A Story of Rejection and Triumph
To be honest, I cannot remember the first time she told me that she had scoliosis. This memory has been faded out, along with many others, during a time of great happiness and change in both of our lives. However, I will never forget the first time that her condition hurt me as well.
She and I met on an exchange program, and quickly fell for each other. There were a lot of things happening all around us that fall of 2007, but we still found time in the evenings on board the Scholarship, to just sit and talk. The kind of talk that couples do.
One of these evenings, I will never forget. We were talking about massages for some reason. I had never had a professional massage, but she was a veteran. Her scoliosis had from early on been treated with both massages and chiropractics, and massages had been a source of (attempted) pain relief throughout her adolescence. She explained to me that many masseuses refused to touch her because of her condition. They were simply too afraid of working with a body that they were unaccustomed to, not knowing what the consequences would be if they exerted pressure on her back. As a result, she was turned down again and again in her attempt to find some pain relief.
Although I can on one level understand the masseuses, this is a story that still gets me worked up today. How can you turn down a young girl who knocks on your door, asking you to do something for her so that her pain becomes just a bit more manageable? This young girl already has a complex about her condition, as it from early on has made her look different from others. To then shut the door in her face when she comes and asks for help is, to me, inconceivable.
I can only try to imagine how those rejections made her feel. Those rejections reinforced what she already knew: that she was different. But those rejections must’ve surely done something more. The notion of a massage, although very innocent in principle, is nevertheless very intimate in practice. To repeatedly hear that the people that massage other people for a living, don’t want to even touch you, must’ve made these rejections so much more difficult to bear. She must’ve felt isolated, like an outsider. And this isolation was caused not by kids in her class, but by medical and homeopathic practitioners.
I don’t think it dawned on her that night that this discussion would provoke me so. To her, it was probably just another story to tell. Like all the other obstacles in her life, she just shrugged her shoulders and moved on. Accepting her condition for what it is, and trying to live life to the fullest.