My "back story," quite literally, is this: For years I hid a serious case of scoliosis for the sake of normalcy. Surgery saved my life—and taught me how to live.
You see, as a young girl bearing the trifecta of awkwardness—baby fat, curly hair with freckles, and a mouth full of metal braces—all I wanted was to fit in. So when I was faced with a serious spinal deformity at 13, I made the decision to protect what little normalcy I had, even if it meant secretly risking my health.
" It all started in the seventh grade during a routine scoliosis screening. You remember the drill: girls in one room, boys in another, each told to remove their shirt and bend forward while a rent-a-nurse examined the sea of adolescent backs for irregularities. In my case, this uncomfortable scenario included two encore examinations and a letter for my parents alerting them to the curve forming in my spine.
For me, the note conjured nauseating thoughts of doctor exams and X-rays, embarrassing plastic braces, and horrific nicknames like Quasimodo or the Hunchback of Notre Dame. No, I thought, this cannot happen to me. I’m a healthy and active teenager, a dedicated cheerleader, singer, dancer, and actress, the second oldest of four perfect sisters. I didn’t have scoliosis; all I had was a letter, which I swiftly tossed into the cafeteria trash can, banishing the proof of my diagnosis to a grave of half-eaten Salisbury steaks.
As the years went by, I worried that my curve was getting worse. But for the sake of being the star cheerleader, playing the lead in the high school musical, and participating in ski club with the rest of my friends, I continued to emanate normalcy. When anxiety about my condition worsened and led to the compulsive habit of pulling out clumps of my eyelashes and eyebrows, sometimes to the point of baldness, I realized that keeping my secret came at a heavy price..."
This is an excerpt from an essay I wrote, based on the memoir I am writing entitled, "Sexy Back." Thanks for reading and any feedback/advice would be greatly appreciated!