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So they say you have scoliosis. Now what?

Make an appointment with your doctor.

If someone other than your doctor has told you that you have scoliosis, make an appointment with your doctor immediately to get an official diagnosis and, if necessary, to begin a treatment program. The earlier you act on this, the better your future prospects will be.

Check your family.

First, check the rest of your family, especially your sisters. Scoliosis often runs in families, especially along the female line. However, if the girls in the family have it, the boys are more likely than they would otherwise be to get scoliosis, so they should be checked as well. The earlier this is caught, the better.

Get a Binder.

Next, get yourself a binder. A one-inch binder with a pocket inside the front cover is best. Get one in a fun color, or with a cover you can decorate. After all, why not have fun with this? You will find it to be very useful to keep all the handouts the doctors give you in one place. If you print out any research from the internet, put that in there too. Bring your binder to every appointment, and include some blank binder paper for taking notes. I also put driving directions to the hospital in the front of my binder, since the hospital was in an unfamiliar area, and my mom and I have a talent for getting lost.

Be proactive!

Your doctor will do the best that he or she can, but you are only one patient, and things slip through the cracks. It is your job to look out for your own care. You cannot count on the doctor to call you when it is time for a check up. For most curves, observation is all that is necessary, but this still requires check-ups every three to six months. Make sure you schedule those! You want to give yourself the best possible outcome, and you can only do that by staying on top of your condition. If you notice any changes, call your doctor! If several months have gone by without a checkup, call your doctor! They want to help you, but your care is your responsibility.

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You're beautiful anyway!

Scoliosis can have a real impact on your self-image. Trust me, I know from experience. Remember, though: your appearance is like your wrapping paper. You are the real treasure, and who you are has nothing whatsoever to do with what you look like. Your friends will not stop being your friends just because you have a curvy back. Your family will not love you any less. Most people don’t even notice, and if they do, it’s the kind of thing they notice once and never give a second thought. No one is going to judge you based on your back, so you shouldn’t judge yourself that way. Scoliosis is not your fault. Everyone has to deal with something in life -- glasses, bad knees, going bald, arthritis, diabetes, whatever. Our “something” just happens to be scoliosis. We can choose to let it control us, make us depressed, self-conscious, and anti-social, or we can choose not to. Scoliosis does not have to be the end of the world.

There is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. You don’t have to hide your back. It is perfectly fine to wear your normal tank tops and swimsuits. You may have scoliosis, but you are still you, first and foremost, and people love you the way you are. All else is secondary. Accept yourself. Love the way God made you. Keep a positive mental attitude, and everything will work out brilliantly. As one of my favorite songs says, “You’re covered with the fingerprints of God.” You’re beautiful just the way you are.

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