Most people (except those I went to school with) don’t know it, but from the time I was twelve until I was a sophomore in high school, I wore a Milwaukee Brace for scoliosis. My spine was curved, and the lower curve was about 30 degrees. The upper curve around 20 degrees.
A school screening test found the condition. I ended up with my parents at a hospital helping kids with conditions like spina bifida, complex orthopedic conditions and long-term disabilities.
I was twelve, having just moved to a new school and over spring break I went from outgoing to someone just trying to hide. The best part was that because I was in swimming and dance, I could take my brace off, and it didn’t count against the 1 hour per day I was out of my brace (Yep, I slept in it). Here’s what a brace looks like, though mine had a white girdle and white straps.
I won’t deny I hated it. The first time, after I put it on, I saw my image in the rearview mirror in my folks’ car and left the car, crying, running down the hill). I felt sorry for myself. When I went back to school, some kids told me how sorry they were for me. And yet, every time I went back to Carrie Tingly Hospital (at the time it was located in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico), I would recognize how blessed I was, and how brave other children were.
It was one of those journeys that made me who I am. Not all the memories were good, but it built me into the person I am today. So I am grateful.