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Every Life is a Story
    A place to share my own family stories

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Thanks, Mom!

When I was in fifth grade, the school started testing students for scoliosis. Scoliosis is a curving of the spine, and apparently it was considered a big enough health problem to start regular testing to see if you had it. To prepare us for the next days test, the P.E. department showed a film explaining everything you needed to know about Scoliosis. It covered everything, including how bad it could get. They showed the spinal surgery for scoliosis, complete with view of the completely exposed bloody spine as doctors were working. It also showed young girls in complex back and body braces to try to straighten crooked spines. In short, it was a pretty graphic movie.

The next day, we all got in line in the girls dressing rooms, clasped our hands together and bent over so that the teachers could trace our spine with their fingers to see if it was straight or not. Then they would call out a yes or a no, check off our names on the clipboard, and move on to the next student. I was stunned when the teacher traced my spine and said, "Yes". Then she pulled me aside to have me tested again at the end. Still a yes! I had scoliosis! Images of back braces and bloody surgery filled my head as I made it through the rest of the school day, and walked home.

I walked into the house, and I remember seeing my mother come out of her bedroom with a big smile on her face, and her arms open for a hug- and I ran into her arms and burst out sobbing. Then my mother became my avenging angel- descending on the school with righteous anger over my terror. We got a doctor's opinion, and it was that I did not have scoliosis, or if I did, it was so minor it was almost impossible to differentiate from a normal spine. My mother spoke to teachers and school administrators about the movie and how inappropriate it was. She was my hero.

As it turns out, I do have scoliosis, and so do at least three other adults I know. It's a minor thing, and certainly nothing to be afraid of. But even so, I can remember how awful I felt that day, and my Mom's outstretched arms at the end of it.

Thanks, Mom.

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