The big one. This is it. Honestly, I don’t know how to start writing this. About a month ago, I found out that a) I officially wouldn’t have to have spinal fusion surgery and b) I could FINALLY start to slowly transition out of my brace. I’ll be completely honest, I was an emotional wreck (I could barely make it to the elevator without bursting into tears), but not in the way that you might imagine. I was upset. Really upset. There was underlying happiness, which I know now, but at that split second, I was on an emotional roller coaster. Before I even began to drive home, I got in the car after the appointment, whipped out my notebook, and wrote until my hand felt like it was going to fall off. Then, I recently opened up that book and reread what I wrote. Most of it doesn’t make sense unless you’ve been in the same position in that you’ve worn a brace for a decade and been told that it’s all over. But even for those of you in that position, this still might not make sense. I’m going to do this in two parts: this article will just be an excerpt from what I wrote, and in the next article, I’ll give an update about how I feel after having a bit of time to cope with everything. Here we go:
I found out that I could start transitioning out of my brace today. I’ve been waiting for this day for almost 10 years. So I should be happy. Right?
To be honest, I’m upset. I’ve spent the past year slowly buying clothes for a non-brace life. But my doctor told me that I have to keep my brace on 14 hours a day, which means that, with swim practice, I still have to wear it to school, anyway. (Message from future Kate: reading this back, I sound like a raging lunatic. I’m sorry if this part is insensitive...I know that finding out that I wouldn’t have to have surgery and limiting my hours was great news, but I was just all over the place that day).
But I don’t think that’s why I’m sitting alone in my car, writing while my tears are staining my brand new notebook. I have to stop wearing the brace. In a combination of disbelief, nostalgia, and sadness, I’m upset that I have to stop wearing somethings that has given me so much sh*t. (Message from future Kate: another apology...sorry to curse, but I’m trying to just copy what I wrote word for word).
This brace is one of the few things in my life that I always had on the agenda. Almost like something I could depend on. I’ve had it longer than I’ve had any of my friends. And there is somethings so important about those things in life that makes letting go of this brace so difficult for me, despite how much I’ve wanted to get out of it.
This is definitely not the state I expected to be in after finding out that I was done. The appointment itself was anticlimactic. I waited for about an hour, only to see my doctor for less than five minutes. All of my birthday-candle-blowing-wishes, lucky pennies, dandelion-fluff-blowing-hopes, finger crosses, fortune cookie messages that I’ve poured towards a single moment. Gone. Maybe I’m scared because now I have to find something else to look forward to in my life. I don’t know what to think, but I never expected this.
It sounds ridiculous, and must be really hard to understand. I just feel like I’m known as the scoliosis girl, and somehow, losing the brace is like losing that identity. I know that in the coming years, there will be times that I will be so glad not to have to wear a brace, but right now, all I can think about is the fact that I’m losing it.
I just wish I had more time. It’s crazy. I know. As strange as this may sound, I wish I could wear my brace longer (Message from future Kate: Ok, here’s where I started to go crazy. More time to wear the brace? I was off my rocker).
So, that was it. Reading this back, I don’t really know where my head was at, and as much as I hate when people tell me this, it’s just something you have to experience...it’s so hard to explain. All of this wack aside, I would just like to thank all of you for being there for me. These past few months have made my scoliosis journey so much more beneficial and I’m so lucky to have gotten to share it with you. No matter where you are in your journey, know that this community is here for you. And remember, we’re bent, not broken! :)