I was a servant to the Television—religiously consumed by the channels, by the same series on repeat, and yet through my recuperation it was precisely TV that was my salvation. Every morning I rose, I was stiff, I was in pain, but i didn’t have to move much. The bed I slept in through this time conveniently faced the television, so with no real movement required, I would grab the remote as if it held my golden ticket to the Fiji Islands on the Travel Channel, a plate of culinary master piece on the Food Network or the winning seat on the Price is Right.

After a few months of nothing but television and the occasional break to the bathroom and to eat, the images all faded together, like impressions of dreams I once dreamt. The channels began to all mold together– as if somehow after a while, they were all just one channel, one episode during one eternal day.


In retrospect I don’t know what I would have done without the convenience of that TV. It gave me a much needed escape and put me in so many other places.

But once I started to feel better, and was able to move a little more, I was no longer able to watch TV the way I did during this time of recuperation. In fact till this day, I still think twice before I turn it on.

My Journey

My imprinted memories from the hospital go far beyond the episode with the toilet.  I am full of many memories I wish would vanish; disappear, because maybe they never happened. We all have those memories, those we wish never happened.  If we just don’t speak of it, or think about it, we will one day forget. Until recently, I was still trying to forget, still trying to get a magic eraser, but it really was all to no avail. Somehow, along the path to forgetting, I realized that it was the path, the journey, which made me–me.

My journey at the hospital was long and arduous. Privacy was ripped away from me, and my life and personal hygiene was in the hands of other people. To make matters much worse, I was menstrual two days after surgery, and all I wish I could do was take care of it by myself–but I was dependent on other people for everything. Which meant that too was in someone else’s hands.  Luckily, morphine hid any embarrassment I might have had, hid any feelings of dread, and it just left me numb.

Undesirably, my morphine was taken away two days prior to going home. Those were the worst two days. I couldn’t sleep. Everything hurt. I couldn’t get comfortable. My body was in array of sharp pain from the top of my spine to the bottom. I was given a high dose of oxicondine, but it did nothing. I still felt every ounce of pain in my body, and I thought I that this was just how it was going to be. Pain would be with me forever, and perhaps I would never feel normal again.

The day I left the hospital, my brother came in followed by a nurse and a wheel chair. He pushed the wheel chair all through the hospital, while my mom parked the car in the front of the hospital.  This memory is foggy. But I remember feeling as if I couldn’t really believe it had just happened to me, but it had, and it was now one step closer to being over. Surgery was now over, and what was left was recovery. But no one ever told me what to expect, and my expectations of what was to come was far different from the reality I was faced with, because my life would never be the way I once knew it. So being pushed through the halls of the hospital, was my transition, leaving my life I once knew, and entering a completely new life. The journey had only just begun.

What It’s Like

I guess I would say that I am tired of telling everyone the same story. I have metal running down my spine, I sometimes beep in metal detectors, and yes my life is slightly more complicated then the average.  I do take medicine when I cannot fall asleep due to pain, I cannot sit all day, and if I had the possibility to stretch several times a day, I would. Living with scoliosis, is not easy. I am not always comfortable, I usually live with pain, if you find a way to get me a new spine, let me know I am totally down to sign-up. I smile and I ignore it because this is who I am, I like myself, and I am happy, but explaining it to the world is not always easy. This is the truth. Sometimes I just want to blend, sometimes I wish I weren’t the one with the story to tell, sometimes I wish I were just listening. My story is mine alone, no one else will ever be in my shoes, but this is what it’s like. Welcome to a little inside piece of me.

Like An Elephant

After a few days of being in the hospital, my mouth still tasted of medicine, it was sour from the lack of cleanliness. My skin and hair were greasy. They hadn’t been washed. I was fifthly, I smelled of medicine and hospital, of my own bodily sweat and fluids, but I didn’t care. But of course it was at that point when a nurse came in with her Pepto-Bismol colored bucket and a washcloth. Her sole purpose was to clean me, while I lay there motionless.  She added the antibacterial soap to the bucket, and began to dunk the washcloth into the bucket. She “cleaned,” my legs and arms, and then proceeded to wash my hair. I just laid there, drugged and emotionless. At that point I was numb. I had lost all of my feelings to the process, to the surgery, to the reality, to my forever-euphoric medicated state I was in. I just didn’t care. The world around me could fall, and at that point I would have never even noticed. I was blank and emotionless. At least that was what I told myself, but then again, looking back there are those moments that left their imprint in my memory.

The moment I had to stand up to use the bathroom, instead of relying on my, oh so handy catheter, is still fresh my memory. I guess it was a moment of weakness, and that’s why it stayed, why it became imprinted in my thoughts. It wasn’t when they removed the catheter that laid it’s mark, it was the moment that I realized that I had to use a raised hospital toilet.  I couldn’t sit down on a normal toilet seat because it was too low, and I wouldn’t be able to make it back up.  I never commented about this to anyone. I never told anyone how uncomfortable it felt to rely on a raised toilet. It was only temporary, but it was something I never wanted to repeat. It signified a dependence on something I didn’t want to have. Writing this I realize that sometimes I feel like an elephant, were every wrinkle is a memory, an imprinted mark that left its print on my skin.

Escape…If only I could

Waking up was like a distant dream. I was so drugged-up numb by the morphine, in shock by my reality, and in no way was I capable of much. I could tell you that if I could have, I would have walked right out of that hospital. I wanted to escape my reality. I felt like Jenny in that one scene in Forrest Gump when she prays to god to make her a bird so that she can fly far, far away. I too wanted to be a bird, and so badly did I want to fly far, far away. It obviously didn’t happen. I was trapped and forced to face the truth. I was going to need some help to do absolutely everything I was once capable of doing by myself. That truth was difficult to face. Needing help from others was not an easy reality to accept, especially when in my own mind I was so sure I could still do it.

Borrowed from Ranta Sara Rez

Doctor Mark Sinclair came in the next day with a teddy bear and carrying his doctor-type clipboard. He asked me once again to move my toes, and said that everything looked great. He then said, “You know you tried to stand up when we were stitching you up,” and somewhere in a distant memory, I remember the hands that pushed me down. Incredible isn’t it? I was about to walk out during surgery. Thankful I only remember the hands pushing me down and nothing else. Right before he walked out he also mentioned that my physical therapist would be there in a few hours to help me get out of bed.

It was not long after that I had a nurse and a physical therapist come into my room. They were both geared-up and ready to help me stand.  At that point I was lying down face up, with a few pillows supporting my right side. My mom removed the pillows, as the nurse pushed me onto my side, and then the physical therapist slowly lifted me to the center, so that I was seated on the edge of the bed. Sounds like a smooth enough process, doesn’t it? It wasn’t. Every movement caused extremely sharp pain, and I just wanted to hold my breath and not feel it. The therapist had me sit there for a while, and that too was extremely painful. There was so much pressure on my spine and my hips that I felt unsure of whether or not my stitches would resist.  After a few minutes of sitting there, the nurse came on my left side and the therapist on the right side, they grabbed me under the arm to support me while I stood up.  I held on to the shoulder of the physical therapist while the nurse gave me my walker. When I stood up I was taller, I was stiff, and I was immobilized.  I couldn’t move too much, but I was so happy to be standing, and yet in so much discomfort. I decided I wanted to walk all way to the end of the hall way, and when I was done I felt like I had ran a marathon. I was so tried and in so much pain, but some how it was all worth it. I was moving and I was now on my way to recovery.

My happiness of success faded quickly with the arrival of some unexpected visitors.My father was one of sixteen children. Most of my aunts and uncles are people I don’t know with the exception of a few great ones, most have evaded being part of my life, and part of my family’s life. So when the time came to visit me in the hospital, I truly wished they hadn’t. I didn’t want people that were not part of my life to see me in the condition that I was in. But of course, they came. The herd of them walked-in, and all I can think of was how do I get them to leave?  I was angry that, after so many years, they showed up in my life then. I couldn’t do anything else, I just cried, and asked someone to take them away. I don’t know who it was who kicked them out; I was too drugged-up to remember.  I think about now, and I am not sure I would do anything different. They were never part of my life, they never made me feel as though they considered me as one of their nieces, and because of that, they didn’t deserve to be part of my life.

The days at the hospital are all faded together, I am not too sure in what sequence it all happened but I do remember that the experience was enough to make me want to hide from my reality, from the pain, and from the fact that I needed help to do just about everything. I was disabled, I was weak, and I was humblized. To make matters much worse, my monthly visitor came during my time at the hospital. So I was no longer just in pain from my surgery, I was now physically discomforted by the fact that I had my period, and all I wished I could do was escape.

My Foreign Body

As I slowly regained consciousness, the smell of medicine, of sickness, of a hospital transpired throughout my senses. I could barely open my eyes they were stuck together by the rheum gathered in each corner. I began to blink, to regain the lost moisture in each eye. My mouth was also dry, it felt like sand paper, and tasted of sore medicine, there was no moisture, I was parched and in desperate need of water. I wanted to stand, I needed to get out of where I was, I needed to find water. But I couldn’t move, I was trapped to the bed, stuck in my place by the heaviness of my body, by the foreignness of my new form.  Should I cry? I couldn’t, I lacked the energy to do so. I couldn’t think, what had happened? Why couldn’t I move?

My confusion was interrupted by the sound of the nurse and the doctor approaching.  The doctor looked at me and asked, “Can you move your feet?” I didn’t respond I just wiggled my toes for him. “ It looks great,” he gave me a smile, and I am not sure weather he stayed or left, but soon after the nurse said, “ We are waiting for your room, it’s currently being cleaned. Can I get you anything in the mean time?” I asked for some water, and my mama. She came back with ice chips, and said that I could see my family as soon as the room was ready. I grabbed the cup of ice from her, as if I hadn’t had water in days. The extremity of my thirst led to me downing the cup of ice, enjoying each chip as it moisturized my body, and allowed me to feel alive again. It was really all to no avail, because soon after it all came right back up. Vomiting water right after surgery felt like death. The pain left my entire body in shivers, I had never experienced anything like it, and I didn’t want to go through it again. Clenching my thirst was not worth the effort I had to make to vomit, and definitely not worth the pain it left me in.  To relieve the discomfort I was in, I was given morphine, and it truly did make every so much better.

I woke up in my room, to my entire family staring at me. They looked worried, concerned, as if they really had no idea what to expect. In fact, I didn’t either. I had two IV’s in one hand, and one in my neck. I had catheter, and a morphine button, an endless supply of “happy medicine,” given to me in small doses every 15 minutes. I must say that I was in shock. Somehow I never really considered the fact that the new addition to my spine would make me feel so much heavier and so stiff. I felt as though I had bricks on top of me and a piece of wood strapped to my back. My entire body was foreign, I did not know how to move in my new shape, any slight adjustments would cause trickling pain throughout my back.

Borrowed by: World Art Resources

It was then that I realized that I had given up my ability to move, to be flexible, for a smaller curve and for life. The exchange was something I hadn’t considered until that point.


Flexibility: Don’t Take It For Granted

I miss my flexibility. I miss just being able to move-normally. As kid I was so flexible. I remember being able to do a back-bend without a problem. Nowadays, I am happy if I can just pull off the regular, everyday motions. Sometimes I feel so robotic in my mannerisms. Like a piece of steel, I am immobile and I can only move so much. There are certain times, when it becomes apparent to me that my motions are just not like everyone else’s.

Getting out of bed is a prime example. My way of get out of bed looks very much, like what I would picture an eighty-old getting out of bed, slow and calculated. Generally, I turn to the side and rise-up using my hands.

My way of gettting out of bed. Borrowed by: Pharmainfo

There are times when I rise, just facing forward and lifting my body forward, but what happens is that I become a sort of sea-saw, and I get stuck in the middle, not sure if I am going to make it all the way up or if I am going to fall right back down. Most days I don’t choose that option of rising.

I wish I could do this. Borrowed by: Innovation Games

Another time when it becomes very apparent is when I have to turn. My body just doesn’t turn very well. So in order to turn I have turn my entire body and not just the upper body…There goes my dream of having really toned obliques!

I can't do this. Borrowed by: 123rf

And of course there is bending. I am very fortune to have very flexible hips making it relatively easy for me to bend. The only problem is that it doesn’t always feel super great to bend. In fact it usually takes me a few seconds longer than the average person to make it bend down, and of course to make it back up.

My bend is really really straight.

In order to avoid bending so often, I have developed really agile toes making it easy for me to pick up anything with my toes. This doesn’t work if I am not at home, because how strange would it be if I randomly went around picking things up with my feet, but it works very well in the comfort of my own space.