I then breathe when I hear she grew a centimeter since last year. And I thank the heavens she is a girl and not a boy who will forever wish he was over 5'0".
To finish up our last well check, our pediatrician took a look at my daughter's spine. By this time, I was already checking my phone and packing up to leave.
Until, the doctor told me she was "rather crooked."
I was floored. She's a gymnast. She turns and flips and balances and swings from high bars that would make me pee my pants. How could she be "crooked?" I was even more floored when our doctor ordered x-rays.
Our pediatrician went on to explain that her age is a concern, because she hasn't really grown yet. There is much more growing to do, which means there is a good chance her spine will continue to curve. Scoliosis is more common in children going through growth spurts, not children who haven't had any yet.
In the next breath, she told me not to worry.
I went home stunned, and of course I spent the night Googling "Juvenile Idiopathic Scoliosis" and scaring myself half to death.
Over the next two weeks, while waiting for the x-ray results, I spoke to many parents. I decided it was crazy to worry. Scoliosis is common, and the chances my little girl will need a brace are very low.
It's been an eventful few months since that well check. After I received the news that my baby girl was in fact, in need of a Pediatric Orthopedic, I really started to worry. I worried about her in school, I worried her gymnastics days would be limited. I worried all because of a curve in the spine I had no idea was there.
Naturally, I Googled and Googled until I found a Pediatric Orthopedic that was top notch. I found a phenomenal doctor in New York City, and we visited his offices in Westchester. During our first visit my fears were confirmed, he explained that she needs treatment. I listened as best I could to this brilliant doctor, while handing Moopa fruit snacks and juice boxes to keep her quiet. He spoke of back braces, and surgical options down the road, and "Scoli Scores" and many other things that I'd never thought I'd have to think about.
I decided to think about only what was necessary, and to let everything else fall into place. I can't change what is to come, I can only work around it. I can only teach my daughter that life is what you make it. You need to play the hand life deals you, and rock on like the rock star you are.
Yesterday, I drove my baby to Westchester to pick up her back brace. She needs to wear her brace a minimum of 18 hours/day. It comes off only for gymnastics, necessary P.E. classes and showers. I was afraid she would cry when she saw it, that the reality of the next five years would crush her like a million bricks falling from the sky.
But nothing crushed her. She smiled. She laughed. She told us it felt fine, and she wore it all the way home without complaint. As we drove she named the brace "Katie" and we decided to stop and buy a few shirts that hid "Katie" well.
Last night, she took off her brace for her three hour gymnastics practice, and she immediately put it back on for the ride home. She slept in it, and she got up this morning and got right on that bus.
Kids are amazingly resilient. They have a magic about them that is inspiring. I keep telling my daughter she will have the best posture in the world by the time "Katie" comes off for good. And until then, my baby is rocking that brace like the rock star she is.
Every challenge we overcome builds character, and this brace is hopefully the only challenge we'll have with her scoliosis. I pray it prevents more curving, but we don't know what the future will bring. Until then, we pray, and we play the hand life deals us.
*I asked my daughter if she minded me posting about her experience with scoliosis. I asked her, "Do you mind? Are you okay if many people know?"
She answered, "It's okay if they know, I want them to learn about it." Kids. They are the best teachers in the world.**