On Monday, while Lisa was recovering in the hospital with Mike, I took Maranda for her appointment with the orthopedic doctor to determine what to do about her scoliosis. She is going to need a brace.
I know it’s not as bad as cancer, I know it could be worse, much worse…but let’s give Maranda her moment…it may not be cancer, but it still sucks and it is not something anyone would wish for… it’s not going to go away. If we’re lucky, we can stop the growth of the curve. It will be another adjustment in our lives…a big, uncomfortable one at that.
I’m not looking for sympathy, I’m not looking for reminders that it will be okay, I don’t need verification of how strong we are….I just want you to walk for 5 minutes in Maranda’s shoes and really feel, really get what this might be like….it may not be cancer, it’s not going to kill her…but…..
Let’s begin….take a deep breath…clear your mind. Remember back to what it was like to be 11. You’re no longer in grade school. You’re a sixth grader in a new school with older kids. You went from being the “big kids on campus” to the “babies” again. You don’t sit in the same classroom you change rooms every hour and you need to be moving at a pretty quick pace to get to your classes in the five minutes allotted.
Think about your locker….changing classes…hallway talk…lunch in the cafeteria…gym class (and no time for shower after!) Remember what if felt like as you were starting puberty…your hormones are kicking on and your body is changing…opposite sex is very cute and hard to talk to....are you there? Are you 11 again? Do you remember how you felt…confident? Awkward? Shy? Unsure? Nervous?
Now add to your 11 year old self….your parents, who are starting to seem irrational to you…..your siblings and the pain-in-the-butt they could be…
Now…add to that you’ve been diagnosed with scoliosis and you have to wear a brace.
Picture yourself going and have a “cast” of your body done. How scary, how uncomfortable. Once the cast is done, you’ll wait for 4-6 weeks to actually see this brace you have to wear until you stop growing (approx 8 years!!!) your whole teenage life. They will show you how to get it on and off…it’s going to be tricky at first….and not just that…people are going to be looking at your body… remember you’re an 11 year old who is just starting to develop and you don’t like anyone to see you naked.
You get the brace home…you have to wear it…23 hours a day…basically the whole day.
Put this brace on your 11 year old body. It’s uncomfortable, isn’t it? Did you remember to put a t-shirt on first? The brace is going to rub, especially in the beginning…you’re going to get sores…the t-shirt can help so that you don’t get as many. Now make sure you find some clothes to dress in that will hide the brace. Hey, at least it’s easier than the olden days….it doesn’t come all the way up to your neck…so you should be able to cover it up. Ok…now let’s put the clothes on….oops…that’s a little tough…you can’t bend your back. How the heck will you get your shoes on? Of course, you’ll figure it out. Let’s think about some other things you’ll need to do…how about sitting? Think about it, you can’t bend your back…guess going to the bathroom will be a bit of a trick as well. Walking should be okay, riding a bike or roller blading, that will be tough (remember you only get one hour out of your brace a day…so does that mean you carry your brace on your bike so you can put it on when you get to your friends?) How about having to change for gym class in a locker room full of other girls? How about the first dance or first kiss (not that your parents allow you to do this until your 25 anyway!) but let’s just say you break the rules and give it a try…how the hell awkward is that?! Even giving your Mom a hug will be different. And picking up baby sister or something you drop is going to be a trick…you can’t bend your back!
So how do you feel? It’s wonderful to be a pre-teen again, isn’t it, especially one who has scoliosis? I’m not trying be all whiny or down about it, but really…this sucks. It’s hard to imagine going thru your teen years in a brace…I know we’ll manage, I’m sure Maranda won’t miss out on things…we’ll figure it out…but it just bums me out.
So far, Maranda has taken the news of getting a brace in stride. When the doctor told us, Maranda just flashed me a look but didn’t change her position (she was lounging on the exam table) or her composure at all. While I’m certain she doesn’t realize all the implications of wearing a brace, she will know soon enough—first hand. I’m sure we will all survive this---what else can we do.
Maranda’s personality and disposition will be a definite asset. She is a wonderful person, one who has been described as compassionate and an “old soul”. She has always seemed wiser than her years. So, this post is in her honor …in a sense she is my hero, my role model….she truly does make lemonade out of lemons. My prediction is that within one year of her wearing the brace, other children will be wishing they had a brace and could be just like Maranda…she just has that effect on people.
And while I should end on that note…there is one more thing I have to share. The doctor who confirmed the need for the brace is the same one who diagnosed Lisa’s cancer. While that in itself is not alarming these words are “I would like to send Maranda for a MRI, I’m sure it’s nothing to be worried about”. Those words are exactly the same thing she said about Lisa. And while, I’m sure there is nothing to worry about (surely lightening wouldn’t strike twice) Maranda will go for an MRI to investigate something the doctor felt in her stomach… perhaps nothing, perhaps a cyst, minor surgery at the most is the doctors prediction.