Today is my back’s “golden birthday”. Nineteen years ago today on February 19, 2001, my life changed forever. Hello, stainless steel surgical rods, meet my scoliotic-ridden spine, of which you’re about to become intimately familiar.
I’ve shared my back story many times over the years, from here on my blog to the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin social media, and beyond, covering various aspects of my experience. Like my memories of the hospital and wearing fuzzy pjs with monkeys on them; and the first time I realized I couldn’t ride Batman at Six Flags anymore because it makes me pass out (rides with dangling feet are no long my friend); and the scent of Bath and Body Works’ warm vanilla sugar, which never fails to transport me back to the first few post-surgery weeks.
Even 19 years later, I can’t imagine my life without my scar and badass rods. (I’m assuming they’re pretty badass – they’ve literally fused themselves to my spine, with the help of bone from my hips, for 19 years. Talk about strength). My scar is such an important part of who I am, of my history, and perhaps most interestingly, of my style. The only time I was truly conscious of covering it up was during the first 6-8 months post-op when it was still fresh and sun exposure needed to be limited. While it’s not as pencil thin as I was led to believe it might be (unless you routinely use a 6B graphite and always draw double bold lines), I like it, I’m proud of it, and it’s mine.
When the “Epic Wedding Dress Search of 2019” started about a year ago, I had two requirements: it must be lace and have a completely open back. The open back was no surprise to my husband Connor; he’d expect nothing less, in fact. A few of the consultants told me how cool it was that I wanted an open back as many other brides they’d worked with who had scars wanted them covered up, especially for their weddings. I get it, I really do – but that’s not my vibe or state of being, for my wedding or any other occasion. If I see a dress or shirt with an open or exposed back, I’m MORE likely to buy it.
After visiting seven stores in two different states and countless hours with very patient family members, I finally found my dress: Martina Liana #1078. Not only was it full of beautiful lace and beading (with a honey-colored jersey knit underlay – so comfy!) with a stunning lace-trimmed open back, but it also had crystal buttons and a unique scalloped train that brought it all together. It was perfect.
My scar found its way into many wedding photos, showing up in moments I mostly didn’t know were captured, naturally. It lined up nearly perfectly with the crystal buttons down the back too.
Not everyone is as fearless about their scars. They’re as unique to each person as scoliosis itself is; each with their own story.
For the record, I wouldn’t say I’m fearless about my scar; I wasn’t fearful to begin with. I’m comfortable and confident in my scar and how it makes me feel to don something that shows it off. I wear it with pride. I don’t actually know where this scar confidence came from, but it’s been around for the last 19 years. And it’s clearly here to stay.