Big, curvy fun news

I’m going on an adventure! Okay, maybe not nearly as exciting or dangerous as Bilbo Baggins, which is what I’m now picturing, but still. It’s big. So I’ve got a spine, like everyone else. But mine is a jerk. It decided early on not to go the traditional route of straight. It decided to curve. And then, to keep things fun, it decided to curve again. It’s not as fun as it sounds. Here it is below, as of March, 2020.

Most recent x-ray


Maybe that’s not the best picture, or the best description. But I don’t know how to download the x-rays off the fancy cd the doctors office gave me, so this is what I’ve got. As for descriptions… Yeah I’m not much help there either. I can throw around big words like idiopathic scoliosis and osteoarthritis but I’m still not 100% sure what terms are correct for my actual condition. I do know that I have scoliosis. I know that I’m the only one in my family with it, and so far my kids look great so I don’t think it’s hereditary… I have double curves, and the doctor estimated about a 70% thoracic curve, and about a 50%….. um… bottom curve. Or maybe thoracic is the bottom. I don’t know, I also have ADHD and I don’t remember these things.

these hips don’t lie. straight. they don’t lie straight.

Quick backstory in case you’re new here. So my spine has been a bitch for my whole life. I started having pain when I was about 4 years old, and it’s done a hell of a job getting worse since. I was diagnosed at 12 by a chiropractor, who did his best to convince my mother to not EVER take me to a doctor because he swore he could fix me. (hint: a chiropractor cannot “fix” scoliosis, also maybe not ever seeing a doctor is a major reason I don’t know much about my own spine.)

Anyway, about that adventure. I have finally gotten to a point in life where I can actually do something about this. I saw a doctor years ago and although she was extremely empathetic and wanted to help, there was nothing she could do. She showed my x-rays to the surgeon in their office and he said there’s no way he would touch me. They recommended surgery immediately and begged me not to bother with anyone in my state. I needed a specialist. And honestly, I agreed. But life happens, another baby happened and I had to wait.

Well, I just had an appointment with a new orthopedist for a second opinion, and he agreed wholeheartedly. He said yes, I need surgery, and also had the same conviction of sending me out of state. Also said I needed not only a specialist, but like a special specialist, in the most special of places. He gave me some names of surgeons he recommended and wished me luck. I’ve looked those guys up, and my husband and I have agreed on who we want to contact. He’s the best of the best, and has fixed much worse cases than mine. So I’m about to schedule an appointment to see him.

Last weird crooked bone picture I swear

So I say all this because this is a huge life-changing thing for me, so obviously I will be blogging, Twittering and Tik Toking about it. I’m passionate about sharing my crazy, so I might as well share my healing too. I will be posting updates along the way, and I’ll probably even take some tearjerking videos when surgery time comes and I see myself for the first time as a cyborg. Or learning to walk again, but like, standing up straight. Looking in the mirror and not seeing a hunch in my back. Oh god I’m tearing up already. So I hope this will be as fascinating to everyone else as it is to me, and lastly, quick shout out to my husband, who is busting his ass to make this happen for me. Love you babe.

Pain and Parenting

A lifetime ago, when I imagined my life as a mom, I honestly thought I would be the most soft, loving, nurturing mother there was. And three kids later I am those things, when I can be. One thing I didn’t factor in, that I never would have imagined would play such a huge role in my life, was pain.

Like it or not, I’m a different person when I’m hurting. I have much less patience, less focus (which is pretty scarce to begin with, thank you ADHD), I get irritated easily and I’m much more likely to raise my voice. None of that really screams soft, loving and nurturing.


As I write this, I am bundled up in my biggest blanket, desperately trying to stay as warm as possible while I take my painkillers and pray they kick in before my kids wake up. Winter is coming, and besides being a pretty awesome GOT reference, it rings true for me in acting as a warning. But instead of whitewalkers, winter brings me a promise that I will hurt more. The colder it is, the worse it gets. And if there’s rain or snow, that’s when it’s at its worst.

And although I know that kids are resilient and forgiving, and I apologize often when I get too angry, that’s not enough. They may forgive me, give me hugs and kisses and tell me they love me. But their behavior changes. My daughter is very sensitive and gets even more so during these times. My son expresses it outwardly, in explosive behavior. When upset, he screams or throws things, runs out of his classroom at school. Once in a while he will even hit another classmate or his sister. And although some of all this is because of my sons autism, and my daughters ADHD, I know I can’t lay the blame solely on that.


I’m constantly trying to be better, but the mom guilt never ends. So tell me, if you deal with any sort of chronic pain, how does it affect your parenting? And if you’ve got any tips, feel free to share with the class, because I am very much still learning.


Ain’t no rest for the anxious

Sleep. That elusive lover that taunts us all day and hides from so many of us at night. As someone with depression, ADHD and a general tendency for laziness, I enjoy my sleep. So much. But it was only recently that I realized how important it is. And oh, does it feel good.

I don’t remember when I started having nightmares. I think I’ve always had them at some point, but they used to be infrequent enough that I’d just complain about a bad night and stick that IV of coffee in and go on with my day. Just kidding, I don’t do an IV drip of coffee. That’s crazy. I inhale it, obviously. 


Anyway, some time in the past year, maybe two years, I don’t know, the nightmares kicked up. I ended up having so many that I was woken up all throughout the night, heart racing and mind reeling. And this continued for so long that they stopped truly bothering me. I’d wake up with these horrible images in my head, and instead of being afraid of going back to sleep, I’d just mentally shrug it off and snuggle back into my pillow, only to slip right back where I left off and continue on with the murder camp or zombie apocalypse or whatever hell my brain had conjured up that night. 

Through all this time, I thought my sleep was good enough since I was technically in bed for 6-8 hours. I thought that was pretty good. But I realized that it had been months since I had lost a single pound, all the while on a keto diet that had previously helped me lose 40+ pounds. I wasn’t screwing up my diet, so why couldn’t I lose weight? Add in the fact that I was permanently exhausted, and my husband and I were worried there was a problem.  He was convinced that my thyroid was failing. 

So I saw a doctor, got some blood work done, and talked to my psychiatrist in the meantime. They both asked how I slept, and both times I said something like, “Good. I mean… I do have a lot of nightmares. They wake me up a lot. And pain wakes me up sometimes… But I mean otherwise….” Both doctors, without even knowing of the other, told me the same thing. I needed better sleep. Not more hours, just better sleep. 

In the end, my blood work came back excellent, besides telling me that I am anemic, which explains part of the exhaustion, and I’m working on that through diet and iron supplements. But the major factor here came down to my brain. My psychiatrist gave me a new prescription for an anti-anxiety med and told me to take one every night right before bed. And both doctors also told me to take melatonin to make sure I’ll sleep.


And the craziest thing happened, I started sleeping better. My dreams are still weird as hell but they’re no longer nightmares, and no longer wake me up. And I swear, as soon as I started sleeping actual REM sleep, I started losing weight again. One of the doctors, I don’t remember which one, maybe even both, explained that it doesn’t matter how many hours you’re in bed. If you keep waking up and you never actually get into that deep REM sleep, you will not wake up rested. Your body doesn’t just need you to be in bed. It needs the good stuff. 

And who’d have thought my brain would have been the culprit for all this!? Oh, that’s right, all my doctors. I should listen to them more. 

Self care for the chronically sick

In the past, I’ve always related self care to “selfish” things. Just doing things that you want to do but never have time for. Taking bubble baths, doing your nails, going out for a haircut or manicure. When I made self care a priority for the new year I was still thinking along these lines. And while I enjoyed the Epsom salt baths I treated myself to those two times, I’m starting to learn that there is way more to this than a half hour of sitting in hot water.

When you suffer through chronic illness, disability, mental illness, whatever, taking care of yourself is more needed than ever, but it is hard. I’m not going to pretend that any of this is easy, but the things we live with aren’t easy either. And taking the time for you might be hard at first, but it’s so worth it in the long run. You are worth the effort. So if you’re like me and can’t seem to look past manicures and bubble baths, don’t worry, I’ve got some ideas.


  1. Ask for help. Life can get overwhelming fast and no matter what it is holding you back, it’s tough to move past a bad spot when you don’t have the energy to do it. But over the years I’ve learned to ask when I need something. It helps me regroup to see something get done, and when I can check something off my mental to do list, my OCD chills out a bit. In turn my anxiety calms down just a bit and when all of that is chill, the depression doesn’t have as much fuel.

  2. Meal prep. I know. This doesn’t sound fun at all! But we all know that diet can play a huge part in how we feel. If you aren’t feeling well, you’ll be more likely to reach for food that doesn’t take long to make, or worse, something that’s prepackaged and not very good for you in the long run. Instead, try to get ahead of the game. Personally, I’ve found a diet that not only helps my PMDD, but it also combats my arthritis and helps me stay at a good weight so my back pain stays manageable. (Read about the keto diet and it’s role in mental health here.) It’s important for me to stick to this way of eating, so whenever I am having a good day, I plan ahead. Chop veggies to prep for the week or cook a huge dinner and put a bunch of leftovers in the freezer for a rainy day. Even if all you do is make a healthy dessert to lift your spirits when you’re down. On bad days, it’s nice to reach in the freezer for a good meal or a pick me up in the form of chocolate that won’t break your scale.
  3. Taking care of business. I know first hand how hard it is to make a phone call when anxiety levels are at an all time high. Or realize that your home is a mess when you are in too much pain to do much about it. Believe me, making a dreaded phone call on the wrong day has ended in panic attacks more than a few times. It’s not pretty. But the trick, which I’m admittedly still working on, is to take care of things when you can. When I’m having a good mental health day, I try to tackle one thing that I know will be too much to handle on a bad day. Likewise with pain. When I’m having a day where I feel good, I try to pick a job that I can’t handle when I’m hurting. This way, when the bad days strike, the stress may still be there, but at least that one thing isn’t lingering in the back of your mind. At least your living room is clean, so lounging on the couch doesn’t feel so horrible.
  4. Find yourself a hobby. Ok, this one sounds like the self care that I talked about in the beginning. But having something all to yourself, that can benefit you and your own mental health, can help in all areas of your life. I freely admit that I am terrible with this. This blog is a hobby, along with Twitter, but I’m on the hunt for something away from the computer.
  5. Keep up with your therapies. Whether you take meds, do yoga, pet all the dogs or go to actual therapy, make sure you keep at it. Go out with friends if it helps, volunteer, talk with strangers on the internet, hit the gym, do anything that helps you feel good.
  6. Reach out. Talking to someone who understands your struggles is so important and can really help. There are so many great places to look for support. I recommend browsing The Mighty for articles from real people with real conditions, writing about their personal experiences. Also, check out Facebook groups and search hash tags on Twitter to find likeminded new friends.
  7. Space out. Sometimes life can be too stressful all around and I totally get that. Diving into a good book or putting on a movie can help you get out of your head for a little while and calm your mind. You could do meditation, yoga, browse social media or get lost in a YouTube rabbit trail of videos. Even just going for a drive on some back roads with no destination or time constraints. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something positive that won’t bring your stress back to the forefront of your mind.


No matter what it is you’re going through, you need the self care. You deserve it. Now go on, get off my page and go do something. Or stay and hang out, whatever works. I’m here.

The diagnosis that broke me


As you may know, I’ve got a laundry list of issues. I am only 28 years old. This means that I’ve been in pain for 24 years. I’ve been depressed for 18+ years. Anxious for 25 years. Add a big ole etcetera in there because this could drag on. But I’ve always dealt with it. Not in an inspiring, healthy way I’ll admit, but I’ve survived.

Then came the winter of 2015. I was 25 years old, and I went to see an orthopedic doctor for the first time, looking for some help for my scoliosis and my pain problems. My doctor was awesome. She was a total sweetheart, very gentle and caring, and listened to everything I had to say. I got some X-rays done and she had a lot to say.  I took off my shirt so she could see my back better, and she twisted me around, poking and prodding, showing me different areas where my spine was doing things that it shouldn’t. She pointed to the X-ray, showing me where vertebrae were twisted in opposite directions, explained each area that looked different than my first(and only) X-rays from when I was a child. She asked if I had trouble breathing, and when I confirmed, explained that it’s because my entire ribcage is malformed. One side is caved in, and my lungs can’t fully expand. This entire time I’m thinking things like, ‘ok this makes sense.’ ‘Nothing I didn’t know already.’ ‘Ok this is bad but I already knew it was bad.’

One thing stuck out to me though. While she was fussing over the things that looked obviously bad, she casually mentioned that I had arthritis forming in my top curve. ARTHRITIS. The talk of spinal fusions and breathing problems quietly slipped out of my head, as this ugly word, this old persons word, just settled in the back of my mind to nag at me. When I left the office, I just sat in my car and cried. I already knew something was different. Something was bad. But arthritis? No way. I’m too young for this. I immediately mentally berated myself for thinking those words, I’m too young for this, because it’s what I’ve heard my whole life. “Your back can’t hurt, you’re too young!”

But I couldn’t help it. I was too young! It’s not fair that at such a young age, I would be dealing with a disease that old people struggle with. And look at an old persons face when they mention their arthritis. You can see the pain in their eyes. I just couldn’t help but keep thinking, this is something that’s going to cause me pain for the rest of my life.

At that point, I had only begun to feel the effects of the arthritis. I knew something was wrong because when it got cold, my back would hurt in a way that I’d never felt before. It’s not like regular lower back pain when you strain yourself. Arthritis is… foul. It almost feels sentient, like it’s got a grudge and it’s out to cause as much discomfort as possible. It was November that i got the diagnosis and it hit me hard, but I was trying to accept it. But the rest of the winter came and went and “accepting it” became a laughable option. Turns out, the worse the cold, the worse the pain is. The more time goes on, the worse it can get and the worse the pain is. More time went on and all of a sudden it wasn’t just cold that did it. If i pushed myself too hard, my arthritis would flare up. If it rained too hard, my arthritis would flare up. I quickly sank into a deep pit of depression and my thoughts were so focused on how much I hurt that I didn’t even look for a way out.


By the next winter the depression was bad enough that I was starting to wonder if I’d survive it. I tried to imagine the future, and for all the effort I put into it, I couldn’t imagine myself there. I’d never sunk quite that low before, and I knew it was time to get out. It took a long time, but I managed to start looking for help. I saw a doctor and started antidepressants for the first time, and although they were hell at first, they were a sign of hope. I started looking more into the arthritis and I realized that the phrase, I’m too young for this, really was as off as I told myself at first. I learned that there are different types of arthritis and that there are lots of people who go through something similar at my age. I read about different remedies and learned that turmeric, a simple spice, was used to reduce inflammation and pain. I started taking that, and it helped more than I imagined. I even went on a special low carb diet to try to combat something completely different, and it just so happens to be a great anti-inflammatory diet as well.

It took me a couple years in all, but my arthritis doesn’t scare me anymore. It can still get bad, despite the treatments, but I’m ok with it now. When it’s left unchecked, it’s hell. That’s not going to change. But what has changed is that it no longer has the power to break me. I had my pity party, I cried it out, and now I’m up for the challenge. Now I’m happy to tell anyone diagnosed at a young age that they aren’t alone and it’s not the end of the world. I’m a bit ashamed to admit how bad this one diagnosis hit me, but I’m determined that I will beat it.






“My curve is bigger than yours” and other nonsense stigmas of scoliosis

Support. No matter what you may be struggling with; mental illness, disability, chronic pain, parenting, there’s a support group for everything. When things get tough and there’s nowhere else to turn to vent, a support group centered around your specific struggle seems like a good idea. You expect empathy, understanding and comfort. Maybe even some helpful advice from people who have already been there. But sometimes, that’s not what you get.

It’s no secret that I’ve got a few issues. But I’ve noticed a big difference in the way people act within each group. With mental health issues, sufferers are quick to speak up and help someone in need. They immediately offer support, empathy and patience. They offer advice on diet, what meds to try, what kind of doctor to see. There’s no jealousy, just a bunch of people who are in pain and want to help someone else who is in pain. Most of the time anyway.

But it seems to go a bit differently when the pain is physical. I can’t speak for other chronic pain conditions, mostly because I only write about what I know, so in this instance I’m talking about scoliosis. And it is amazing to see how careless people can be. From the second someone is diagnosed, there are a million things to learn and figure out. What do you do about it? Get a brace? Have surgery? Pain medication? Physical therapy? Nothing? There are so many ways to go about it and everyone has their own opinion that they believe is right.

But scoliosis is not like a broken bone. You don’t just set it and move on with your life. Every single case is different than another, and even every individuals circumstance changes through time. I wanted to take a look at some of the ridiculous myths and stigmas surrounding scoliosis, and clear them up the best I can. And remember, everyone’s experience is different. Just because it didn’t happen to you… You get it.


  • Everyone has some form of scoliosis.

No. Everyone has some sort of curvature to their spines, yes, because our spines are not meant to be pin straight. There is supposed to be a slight curve at the neck, and there’s a nice, soft curve along your back that allows for the best movement and function. But curve does not mean scoliosis in this way. Scoliosis is when your spine curves to the side in a way it isn’t supposed to. When people say that “everyone” has scoliosis, what they really mean is that it is common.

And common does not mean it’s not a big deal. While it is definitely a common thing, most people who have it have small curves that don’t affect their life in a negative way. Most of those people will go through life with very minimal problems and it may never get much worse. There are plenty that have no idea they have scoliosis because it’s never caused them pain. Comparing those people to someone like me is where the problem is.

  •  Scoliosis does not cause pain.

I cannot tell you how much this makes my blood boil. It is truly disgusting how many people are told by professionals that scoliosis does not cause pain and that they must be doing something wrong. I have been hurting since I was four years old, and if any doctor tried telling me it had nothing to do with my scoliosis, he’d quickly find his name plastered all over the internet with his idiocy. Anyone that I’ve ever showed my Xrays to has a reaction of, “ouch! That must hurt so much!” I don’t get why so many doctors can’t understand such a simple fact.

  • A small curve isn’t a big deal.

Wrong again. Although yes, a small curve has the potential to be no big deal, every person is different. You can have two people diagnosed with a 10 degree curve in puberty, and one may grow up with no problems and only have slight pain when they get older. Meanwhile, the other will get worse, and that 10 degree curve can progress until it’s past 50 and surgery is recommended. You can’t predict how it may or may not progress so no matter how small, it is important to keep an eye on your spine if you’ve got any degree of scoliosis.

  • The larger the curve(s), the more pain you will have.

It is honestly amazing how misunderstood this one is, especially in the actual scoliosis community! Someone will come in looking for some support, post a picture of their most recent Xray and say that they are in pain. And you would not believe how many people will respond, basically with, “My curve is bigger so I’m in more pain than you.” Of course, most of the time no one says those exact words. But it’s implied. People with smaller curves get no sympathy at all, and people with large, scary looking curves get enthusiastic praise for being “so strong” and all the empathy in the world for the pain they’re going through. But I’ve lost count of how many times someone with a more severe curve than me will admit that they don’t hurt that much.

Pain doesn’t radiate at an equal rate of bigger curve=more pain. It depends on your lifestyle, your diet, your exact curve, your muscle definition, so many things! For some of us with double curves, one curve is sitting on top of the other, so even though it may be “worse” than other people, it means that instead of leaning to the side or standing up crooked, we still stand up relatively straight. And sometimes that means less pain than you’d imagine.

  • You MUST get a brace/surgery/chiropractic care.

Again this is one of those things that differs with each case. In many cases, chiropractors can help with pain enough that the person doesn’t feel they need any further treatment. In other cases, like mine, the chiropractor can be nothing but a hindrance to proper care.

Same goes for braces. Some people swear by them, some say they’re a waste of time and effort. Many studies have shown that they help prevent scoliosis from progressing, and even straighten out the curve a bit. But many others have shown that people who were braced tend to experience the same amount of problems further down the line, and need surgery just as often as those who were never braced. But these studies are still comparing completely different people with different builds, lifestyles and activity levels. It’s difficult to compare results when the subjects are so different.

And surgery. Too many people tend to think that surgery should always be done if the spine is not straight. But in fact, surgery is not always the best option. If someone’s curves are not causing them any pain, or very little pain, it’s not always the best choice. It’s easy to look at an x-ray of a scoliosis sufferer and assume they need to straighten out their spine. But in reality, many of us get through life just fine without any major interventions. Spinal fusions are no doubt life changing surgeries but they don’t usually last. Most people who go through a spinal fusion need an extra surgery at some point to fix hardware, to remove hardware, or replace it with upgraded stuff. Some people get lucky and get 10-15 years of lessened pain and feeling well until they need more intervention. But there are many cases where screws pop out, rods come undone or the body rejects a piece somewhere. It’s not an easy thing to go through and shouldn’t be done for vanity or taken lightly.

  • Scoliosis is just about your back.

Scoliosis may be a condition of the spine, but it affects all of you. A curved spine can lead to many issues that at first glance seem to be unrelated. It can affect your posture(obvious one), your breathing, balance, mental health, and add pain in countless areas. It can cause pinched nerves, lead to degenerative disks, arthritis and bone loss. It can affect your stomach and cause gastrointestinal issues. It has even been known to cause infertility in some cases. Don’t underestimate how much your spine affects your wellbeing and the workings of your entire body.


I’m sure there are plenty more things to go on about but no one wants to go through that much. The moral of it all is this: Don’t assume you know anything about what someone else is going through. I’ve dealt with scoliosis my whole life. I’ve been in pain since I was 4 years old. I dropped out of countless extracurriculars and struggled through school with bad gym grades and a horrible self esteem. I’ve got chronic pain, and I developed osteoarthritis in my spine at only 25 years old. And through the support groups that I do turn to once in a while, I’ve seen so many stories similar to mine, yet so many more that are much different. I’ve seen people with larger, scarier looking curves swear that it doesn’t cause them much pain and that they are thankful they never went through with surgery. And I’ve seen younger people, like me, with milder looking curves who seem to be having a much more difficult time than me.

So you know what? If you tell me you are in pain, I will believe you. I don’t care if your curve is 5 degrees or 95. If it hurts, it hurts. Because what hurts more is when you try to turn somewhere like a support group and all you get is doubt. When I go into a forum about mental health and say that I’m struggling, no one asks to see proof from a psychiatrist that I’ve got a real diagnosis. No one compares how long I’ve been suffering to how long they have. Yet with scoliosis, it’s “How big is your curve? Show a pic of your xray. Oh, my curve is much worse it can’t be that bad.”


In the end we are all struggling, some of us a little and some of us more than anyone can imagine. I’ve chosen to take the high road and be kind and supportive to anyone who needs it. I’ve chosen to ignore my basic thought of, “well my back is much worse,” and instead reply with, “have you tried turmeric/heating pads/tens units/etc?” Support should be encouragement, advice when and if it’s appropriate, and empathy. Let’s try to make a change. No more putting people down because they didn’t follow the same line of treatment that you swear by. No more comparing issues to win at this ridiculous game of who is in more pain. No more questioning hurting people for no reason. We are all in this together folks, let’s step it up and handle it together.

We may be bent, twisted and curvy but we are never broken.



The Pain Cycle of Scoliosis Sufferers

I’ve spent much of my life taking it easy. Not sure what made me learn to do it, but somewhere along the line it just became habit. Not to push myself very hard, not to attempt things that are overly physical, or lift things that are heavy. There have been countless times where I will pull back from something, and somewhere in the back of my head, it feels wrong. I can’t possibly be that fragile, this is stupid to be so careful.

As I got older and had kids, my life went from “let’s take it easy,” to “I’m not gonna deprive these kids of anything just because it hurts me!” But I was also creeping closer to 30 and I realized that I had lived kind of a boring life at times in an attempt to keep from hurting myself. I decided to change things up a bit, to hell with the pain. My life became a cycle of pain and accomplishment that seems never-ending. And as I’ve learned, I’m not even close to being alone in it.

The holidays are an especially easy time for chronic pain sufferers to overdo it. Thanksgiving already beat me down twice. Two different times I pushed myself, did way too much, and then paid dearly for it. I was so frustrated that I did that to myself, twice in a matter of days, and I took to Facebook to vent. Sometimes the only people who truly get it are the ones who suffer the same things you do. And the response I got, was just comment after comment of everyone exclaiming “yes! I do the same thing! Why do we do this to ourselves!”Back-Pain-During-Pregnancy.jpg

And yes, this was a special occasion. You want things to be perfect for the holidays so you go nuts. I get it. I repeated these bad choices for Christmas and a few times since the year new already. But for those of us with confused, curvy spines, it is an absolutely every day thing. I wake up to see what parts of the house are a mess, and if I feel up to it, I go to town cleaning everything I can. At the end of the day I might even feel proud of what I accomplished, but on those days, I pay for it. Because that’s when I need to take a pain reliever just to get to sleep. That’s when I wake up in pain in the morning and everything I do hurts. I get mad at myself for doing too much, and then I’m forced to relax and try to heal, doing only what is required to get through the day. Then while I’m trying to heal, chores build up, anxiety builds, and a day soon comes where I exclaim, “I can’t do this anymore!” I go on another cleaning spree, never actually getting everything done, and again, I have to stop. I might even repeat it the next day, making my already hurting body so much worse. The house will look okay, but I can be found crying on the couch with a heating pad, a massager or a tens unit, popping pain relievers and having another pity party. But I can’t seem to stop doing it.

When you struggle with constant pain, finding a happy medium is either ridiculously difficult, or downright impossible. It’s a choice between staying at a 6 pain wise to attempt to keep up every day (and never actually get everything done), or take care of yourself so you can actually feel okay for a few days, and then just deal with a 9 or 10 for a day or so. You probably get the same amount done, but at least this way you might get a few good days in between. Neither choice is ideal for you or anyone else. It feels like you can’t win.

So if you ever come to my home and I tell you, “Sorry about the mess,” I mean it. I really do hate that I can’t have a Pinterest worthy home. I hate that I can’t seem to keep up in a way that won’t aggravate my husbands OCD. I hate that the simplest things need to be planned out instead of just done.  And I hate that although I’m doing my best, I feel constant guilt that I can’t do more. That I can’t be more, and that my pain holds me back from so much. And that I will continue to do this to myself, over and over again.



What Happened When I Realized Carbs (and sugar) Were the Enemy


Over the past year I’ve been trying to find an antidepressant that works for me, and it’s been a hell of a roller coaster. Mentally, and physically. Physically, as in the roller coaster was the numbers on the scale, going up up up up UP! I was on my third try with meds, and finally, this one wasn’t making me gain weight. But it wasn’t helping me lose either and I was 40 pounds heavier than before I ever popped a pill. I wanted desperately to lose some weight, so I was working out like crazy, eating better, and after months of hard work, I lost a WHOPPING… 4 pounds. The roller coaster got stuck and I was pissed.

Then my family moved into our very first house and there was a lot to do, so it all slipped to the back of my mind. We didn’t have a functioning kitchen for a good week, and between that first week and the weeks leading up to the move, I lost count of how much fast food and pizza we all ate. But once we were all settled in, I was ready to make a change. A big one.


I had been looking into the keto diet for a while, but I seriously doubted it. Everything about it made me shake my head. For one, it goes against the whole standard american diet pyramid thing we’ve all been taught. In a nutshell, the keto diet is a way of eating that makes your body stop burning carbs(glucose) for energy, and it starts burning fat instead. You do this by decreasing your carb intake, low enough that you can’t depend on it for energy anymore. I didn’t think I could do it. But mostly, no way I’d be able to give up carbs and sugar! Chocolate has sugar! But then it hit me.

unhealthy white sugar concept


I started paying attention, and I noticed whenever I had too much sugar, I changed and my mood swings were bad. Like angry, She-hulk, monster mommy bad. I’d be having a great day and then stop for a frozen, sugary coffee indulgence because, why not? Within ten minutes I went from super good day to, “everything is too loud, these kids need to go away, I need to be left alone!” I was yelling at the kids when they didn’t deserve it, and snapping at my husband for no reason. I was blaming my depression, I was blaming PMDD, I was blaming my husband. When the culprit was the crap I was putting in my mouth.

So I looked back on the keto thing, and it clicked. This diet requires you to give up sugar, and I really should do that anyway… Why not? If the only goal was to lose weight, I might have given up a few times, but once I got past the keto flu and let my body detox a bit, I was feeling great. It hasn’t been magic, my mental issues are still there. But I started noticing good days again. I wasn’t snapping at the kids for no reason, and my husband has noticed that I’m a lot calmer. The last few days of my cycle that usually have my finger hovering over the call button for a suicide hotline, now have me just… Normal level depressed I guess? Like I said, I’ve still got my issues, but now I’m not fueling them with the evil that is sugar!

Not to mention, since starting this new way of eating, I’ve lost 30 pounds. That damn roller coaster got unstuck, started going down, and I jumped the hell off. Because if I keep up this lifestyle, I’m not going to keep going up and down with my weight. I might have my good weeks and bad weeks because of the PMDD, but now I can at least track it all again instead of wondering why the hell I’m feeling so stabby on what’s supposed to be a good day.


Now, I’m not trying to sell anyone on the keto diet. I’m a terrible salesperson anyway. But I think people who struggle with certain issues *cough* PMDD *cough* need to look closer at what they put into their bodies to see if maybe, just maybe, some of the fault lies in that. It’s a bit embarrassing to look back on how long it took for me to come to this realization for myself, but I’m finally working on it and seeing results. I’ve given up on sugar and carbs and I’m never going back. Plus, sugar free chocolate exists and it’s actually not bad, so there’s that.

Now, it’s time to give up coffee caffeine. Pray for me!

What It’s Really Like Being A Student With Scoliosis, and How To Help


With another school year coming up so fast, I’ve been thinking back on my own school days. I had friends, got decent grades, never got in serious trouble. Despite that, my entire middle school/high school experience sucked. There were plenty of things that had nothing to do with the school itself, but there was one area where they failed me completely. They refused to acknowledge my scoliosis.

We can all remember that time of year that the students groan and moan about the scoliosis screening. While for everyone else it was nothing more than a nuisance, for me it was the most dreaded day of the year. Most kids didn’t fully understand what scoliosis really was, and didn’t care. I, on the other hand, knew exactly what it was. I lived it, I hated it, and on this one day, everyone knew it. That I had this condition that no one really understood, that seemed to be serious enough to make everyone go through the screenings for it. It almost felt like the whole school had to be punished because I had this unspeakable thing wrong with me. I felt like a total freak. I had to fight the nurse every single year because she didn’t care that I already knew I had the condition. She didn’t care that my mother had sent in a doctors note and called multiple times. And she definitely didn’t care that I hated her for it.

This was my x-ray from when I was diagnosed at 12 years old. This is the spine that my school nurses declared “normal”. Even after seeing this.



The rest of the year wasn’t much better. For the longest time I tried my hardest in gym. I tried to keep up the best I could, but no matter what I did, nothing was good enough. When testing came around, I couldn’t stretch right, I couldn’t run, I couldn’t do much of anything the way state standards told the teachers I should. And even though my gym teachers had been told about my condition, it didn’t seem to matter.

While a boy who was severely obese got good grades because he tried his best, I got marked down because I couldn’t keep up. My teachers, honestly trying to be supportive, pushed me to do my best, yet couldn’t understand that I already was. I didn’t have asthma, so when I couldn’t even finish the mile run before class ended, it was assumed that I wasn’t trying. They were wonderful people and I honestly believe they did their best, but I don’t think they had any idea about what I was going through. After years of explaining it and no one understanding, I had stopped talking about it.  Yet I held resentment towards the teachers because they couldn’t see past my appearance to understand that I had issues just as bad as his. Eventually I gave up, started “forgetting” to bring in my gym clothes, started pretending to be sick. When I got sick of excuses I just did what they thought I was doing already. I got lazy and lagged behind on purpose. Why bother.

For the rest of school it was the normal things you’d expect to be a problem. Backpacks caused a ton of pain, but no one really cared back then. I was often late to classes because I had three minutes to run from one class, to my locker, to the next class, and as I’ve already mentioned, I can’t run. But all the other kids were told they needed to carry all their books, so I had no excuse. Scoliosis be damned. Besides, when a kid complains about back pain, the most common response from adults was “They’re making it up,” Because apparently back pain is only for old people. Believe me, this has been an issue since I was four.

Endless times I tried pushing myself to do what I was told, to carry all my books with me. I wasn’t late for class, so my teachers were happy. But I’d come home crying in pain and my mom would get mad at me for being silly enough to carry so much. Either way I lost.

My favorite part, and one that has gotten a huge “YES OMG I HATE THAT” from the scoliosis community on social media, was picture day. I’ve been told to sit up straight so many times in my life, my eyes instantly roll when I hear it. Since my condition got progressively worse through every year, especially after puberty, every picture day was worse than the last. My final few years in high school, the photographer would physically shove me into an acceptable position for a photograph. And believe me, when a kid takes longer than usual just to have a simple picture taken, everyone notices. Check for one more reason to feel like a freak.

Going through middle school and high school can be tough for a healthy kid. Having to go through it with a disability, or a deformity if you wanna use the word doctors use, can make it hell if it isn’t acknowledged. And, I should add, this is only my story. I can’t even begin to fathom what others have gone through. I’ve spoken to women who got through school with no issues caused by their scoliosis, and women who told me that they’d have given anything to have a school experience like mine, because they went through much worse. After all, I could attempt to hide my back with baggy clothes, but the people who had to get through school with a brace, or in a wheelchair, didn’t have that luxury. I was more resentful towards the school because of their lack of care, but a lot of how I felt towards the rest of the students was partly due to issues with low self esteem and the beginnings of mental health issues. Which is also pretty common for people with such severe health problems.

All that was needed to make my school life better was understanding and the tiniest bit of care. Starting at the top. I don’t know if it was school regulations, lack of education or someone in the principals office brushing it off as no big deal, but I do know that it shouldn’t have taken much to fix. Like fully educating the teachers about what to expect if they get a student with scoliosis. Seems logical since they were required to do the screenings anyway.

But my school years are over and I pray that no one else’s kid ever goes through what I did. I’m so glad that some things have changed, even though many schools have eliminated the screenings altogether.

So, to the teachers, if you get a student with scoliosis this year, get to know them and what they need. Offer help in whatever way you can and try not to single them out to make them feel different. If they say they are in pain, believe them. Especially gym teachers, if they can’t seem to keep up, understand that they might not even fully understand why. And let them know they are strong for pushing through things that aren’t easy for them. And BTW, I couldn’t imagine doing your job. You guys are awesome.

To parents, be your kids advocate. Although regulations have changed and education about scoliosis should have gotten better over the years, each school is individual and if they have never had to deal with scoliosis before, they might need an extra push.

And to the student going back to school with a brand new diagnosis, you’ve got this. You may have a lot to face, but despite what I thought of myself as a kid, you are not a freak. If your peers make you feel awkward about your condition, remember you are going through something they aren’t and can’t understand. That doesn’t make you weird, that makes you strong. Own your body and don’t be afraid to speak up if you are being pushed too far, or if you aren’t getting what you need. Believe me, it’ll make your school life easier. And most importantly, you are awesome. Scoliosis may change us, but it does not define us. We are scoliosis strong. And you are going to rock this school year.


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What those of us with scoliosis want you to know.



In honor of scoliosis awareness month I decided to drop in on the scoliosis Facebook community. These people are such a loving group, so supportive and caring of each other in a way that I don’t see in many other places. This is where we go to vent about our pains, our struggles and our surgeries. We commiserate together because there, we know there are people who get it. What scoliosis really is. And so, we wanted to share with our friends and our family what we really go through. Here’s the feedback I received:


“Parents should take heed when their children are diagnosed. Mine put their heads in the sand about my condition and part of my future was robbed from me because my scoliosis wasn’t a big concern to them until my school nurse reported them. I credit my nurse for saving my life. I hated her at the time. I was the freak that got called down to the nurses office every day for a year just because she wanted to know if my parents brought me to the doctor yet. Looking back, I’m ever so grateful to her and I wish I knew how to find her to say thank you. So, if the school nurse from Northport Middle School in Port St. Lucie, Florida, circa 1996/1997 is reading this; I owe you my life and I’m grateful to you every day.”  -Shelly L.


“I hate my scoliosis because I wanted to serve in the US military more than anything else. I was disqualified for service due to my spinal fusion. Three of my grandparents served. I was absolutely heartbroken when 9/11 happened and I couldn’t help. I knew beforehand that I wouldn’t be able to but going to war made it so much harder to accept. I’ve got the heart of a soldier and a useless back to go with it.”  -Shelly L. (same as above)
“I want everyone to know that even older adults can have surgery for scoliosis. I lived most of my productive adult life with a moderate case that became painful and it progressed after age 50. My family doctor told me I was too old for surgery and to just take pain relievers and exercise. I was even discouraged by a neurosurgeon. I did my own research and found a scoliosis orthopedic specialist who performed surgery on me April 20th for severe 80/76 scoliosis and kyphosis. I am a lot straighter and recovering well. Healthy patients of any age can benefit from surgery if indicated! I suffered several extra years because of misinformation.”  -Nancy M.
“I think people don’t understand how significant scoliosis messes with your head. Even if you don’t have a lot of pain or limitations, it’s still difficult to find clothes that fit. It took me a few years to realize that I wasn’t just putting on weight and getting out of shape. My curves were progressing, which led to depression, which made me slack on being active, which led to lack of muscle tone, which let the curve progress. At age 60, with an upper curve of 70+, I’m struggling to get my conditioning back, but I will do it. Keeping up the positive self talk is imperative!”  -Diana H.


“One thing I want everyone around me to know is that this stays with you regardless of whether you feel a lot of pain or very little pain. Every morning when I wake up, it’s me and 30-some pieces of titanium pieces getting out of bed. When I try on clothes at the store, it’s really my scoliosis, my protruding shoulder blade and uneven back and hips trying them on. When I lie down flat on the ground, there’s a part of my body that doesn’t touch the ground at all. There are big things to deal with, like back pain so bad that after driving for more than an hour, I become stiff and have to lie down and rest before continuing my day. And of course the frequent thought of wishing I could have a straight, healthy spine, and I rub pain relief cream on my aching shoulders and neck. But there are many little things too. It’s not simply “back pain” or “having a bad back”. It is so much more than that. It’s a scar trailing from my neck to lower back that shows I’m different. I have something different. And it isn’t just about the titanium; it’s about my relationship with my body, what I have been forced to accept about myself. I want my family to know that my story continues every day. My surgery was thirteen years ago, but I am still that young girl who tried every day to look in the mirror and make peace with what she saw.”  -Anna B.


“I wish my loved ones knew that I wish I could do some of the fun things with them and not have to stop, or decline an invitation. I wish I could play in the grass or on the floor with my nieces without being uncomfortable. And that even though I may have a smile on my face, I am writhing in pain on the inside.”  -Melanie E.
“Many years ago I was traveling through Europe and had stopped for a Turkish bath in Turkey. I was being massaged by a woman who was chattering nonstop in a language I didn’t understand. Suddenly all the other Turkish ladies laughed at the same time. I asked her what she had said, and she replied “baby camel”and pointed at my back. I was horrified and very embarrassed. One good thing came of it though, I was always super conscious of my posture after that, which has helped my discomfort over the years, both physical and emotional.”  -Penny C.
“I have kyphosis between my shoulders, a 70 degree curve. I am 57. No doctor ever found my scoliosis when I was in school. It’s strange because I was pigeon toed and wore corrective shoes. I’ve always wondered why this happened to me. My rib cage is off center, my bones are asymmetrical and now I struggle with severe back pain. I have advanced arthritis in my left knee and foot. I ask, “why me?” The pain I experience has severely affected my life.”  -R.S.

It’s amazing how so many people with the same condition could have such different experiences. I can relate to the pain, the struggle, the low self esteem. I remember growing up I always doubted myself. When I was in pain, I was made to believe that I was too young to be in pain, therefore there must be something else going on. I doubted everything about myself. Through years of struggling through sports that I couldn’t handle, I became more and more defeated until I just gave up.  Scoliosis screenings in school were traumatizing, being forced to bend down for a test for a condition I already had proof that I had! I was the only one in school with scoliosis and that one week of the screening, everyone knew it. I was a freak.

As I got older, I remember clothes not fitting me right. If a shirt was too tight, it would show off my protruding shoulder blade. If it was too loose, it would slip off one shoulder and expose how uneven I was. Bathing suits have always been hell. Picture day was always super fun too.

“Sit up straight please.”

“I am.”

“No, you’re not. Sit up STRAIGHT please.”

“I AM!”

The more years went by, the worse my back was. I attempted to go through that stage you find in your 20’s, where you say, “screw the world, I am who I am and I’m proud of it!” But I was lying to myself. I hated my back. I hated being twisted and crooked. I hated always knowing that I was the freak in the group.

I thought I was sitting up straight for this picture. BTW I was with a great friend who has never told me to “sit up straight”   😉

Now I’m an adult. A wife, a mother and a homemaker. I’d love to say that I’ve gotten past hating my body, but I haven’t. I could get all dressed up and feel like I look amazing, and the mirror might even agree, until someone takes a candid picture of me. Every time I see a picture of myself I cringe. I’ve been told that my condition isn’t obvious, but I don’t know if everyone I’ve ever met is blind, or if I’m truly the only one who notices the way my shoulders slump way too far forward. Or how if you take a side pic of me, you can see the enormous hump in my back from my ribcage sticking out. I can’t be the only one who sees my uneven shoulders, my crooked hips, the way I will be sitting comfortably, hunched over, and then shoot up out of nowhere because I just realized that I probably look like the Hunchback of Notre Dam. When I brush my teeth or pick something up, I stand on one foot and lean sideways a bit instead of just bending over straight.


With my kids, things got worse. When they were babies, I couldn’t respond to invites until I was sure I had help. When my son had colic, I spent the first 6 months of his life sobbing through the night because I was in so much pain from rocking him. As they got older, the more time went on, the more it hurt to get on the floor and lean over to change diapers. Even now, when they rarely need to be picked up, I feel like all I do is disappoint them.

“Sorry guys, we can’t go to park today. Mommy is in too much pain.”

“Guys no jumping on Mommy today.”

“No babe, mommy can’t play like that right now. I’m sorry mommy doesn’t feel good.”

And all I can think is “I’m sorry you don’t have a better mommy. A healthy mommy. I’m sorry I can’t do these things for you.”

My most recent x-ray.

I’ve got to say, after almost 7 years of marriage, my husband has never seemed bothered by my scoliosis. He teases about it once in a while, because he knows humor gets me through pretty much anything. But I still feel like I disappoint him too. I feel like I am incapable of keeping an actual clean house. I can handle only so much before my back is screaming in pain and I have to sit down. Cleaning hurts. Hauling laundry up and down stairs hurts. Making beds, doing dishes, cooking. Everything you could possibly imagine hurts. And yet, I’m used to it.

But here’s the biggest thing that’s got to me about my condition. Having kids destroyed my back. I always thought I’d have a brood of crazy kids running around. I wanted to be that mom who stayed at home, baked cookies, and raised 5 or 6 amazing kids while taking care of her husband and being an all around freaking Stepford mom. Without the creepiness of course. But I can’t. After one, my health declined. After the second, it plummeted. And my body just can’t handle any more. My spine has developed arthritis, my back is weak and ligaments are loose. My doctor didn’t even understand how I managed to have the two and strongly discouraged ever having another baby ever again. Plus, I desperately need surgery and no doctor will perform that serious of a surgery on a mother with two young kids.

So for anyone who previously thought scoliosis was just a “bad back”, this is what we go through. The embarrassment, the pain, the deflated self esteem and the anger. We’re a bit sick of telling people that we ARE sitting up straight. We understand that scoliosis is quite common, but the ones who have tiny curves and no problems cannot compare to those of us with severe curves, with back braces, or titanium rods and screws in our spines. We don’t want to hear how we need to “just exercise more” or how we should just get the surgery and then we’ll be cured. Surgery is not a cure. It’s a band-aid on a bullet hole. In almost every case, the person who had surgery will need to have another down the road. The pain will come back, and the spine might start to curve again, sometimes in a spot that’s not fused. We are sick of making excuses instead of telling the truth about our pain, because we know people won’t understand.

But I’ll tell you one thing, if you are supportive to anyone with scoliosis, you are a precious gift to them. If you let them vent without trying to give advice, you are priceless. We need back rubs, heating pads, and a shoulder to cry on once in a while. Because, after all we’ve suffered through, we may be bent, but we are never broken. After all, we must be some sort of super heroes with a giant S carved into our spines.