Sheriff Sarah

Sheriff Sarah

Monday, June 10, 2013

Flashback to...Scoliosis

Passing my 46th birthday this year, I've begun to reflect more and more on the past. For some reason, that contemplation took me back to late May 1980 when I was in 7th grade. I was a short kid and off-and-on shy, although really, in a class of only 60, I knew everyone.

Back in those days, public schools conducted back screenings in an attempt to catch scoliosis as early as possible. While only 2-3% of kids 10 to 15 will be diagnosed with scoliosis, it was a big deal back then. I remember the day of the screening and wondering what the big deal was about one shoulder blade being lower than the other.

The final days of school came and went and I found myself in the orthopedic surgery department at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. It's there I first met Dr. Dan Benson and his wife, Karen (I will return to them in another post). Dr. Benson was one of the kindest men I ever met and a great physician. But I wasn't crazy about his diagnosis.

Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine that generally hits girls and boys who have started to grow at a faster clip. Girls are affected 5 to 8 times more frequently than boys, depending on who you listen to, but I was one of the "lucky" guys.

When my parents and I met Dr. Benson and received the news, I was stunned. That feeling intensified when I learned the prescription was the Milwaukee Back Brace - a hideous monstrosity that would prevent my spine from curving further and hopefully decrease that curve as I grew. (All the online photos I found were of girls in the brace. I will see if I can find an old one of moi which I'll include in a future post.)

Great news, I was certain, except for the fact I would have to wear it 23 hours per day...and 8th grade, then high school loomed in front of me.