It was summertime in Spain, 2012. It’d be around 9 pm when I had just come back home from the beach. Even though it was quite late, it was hot; very, very hot and sticky and I had sand all over my body. Because of that, I decided to shower that evening. That was rare considering I’d gotten into the habit of taking morning showers. I waved and smiled at my parents who were on the couch peacefully watching some Spanish TV show but without a word, I went into the bathroom. I took off the flowery pink dress I generally wore to go down to the beach and gently dropped it on the floor. I was about to take my bikini off but then the mirror in front of me, as usual, stopped me.
Putting my arms down, I stared straight into the mirror observing my body, more like my hips. They were definitely much better than the year before but still not perfect. Or what I thought was perfect. I shut my eyes not wanting to think about it. But, unconsciously I turned sideways to look at the reflection of what my doctor called “gibbous”. They are visible bumps you get on your back from scoliosis because apparently, scoliosis is the three-dimensional rotation of the spine, and so it causes as many bumps in your back as many curves you have. I had two curves but my upper curve was in a worse state than my lower one, and that made my hips uneven as well as my upper bump bigger. Looking at this one bump was the worst about looking at myself in the mirror because it was very noticeable. It never seemed to get any better and I couldn’t stand the thought of that. Every time I’d look at it, I couldn’t help but feel as if I’d been defeated in my own game, as if birds were going through my body at the speed of light, and as if nothing was enough to describe what I went through and the unknown battle that was still left. I didn’t and would never have words to explain this devastating feeling. What I hated the most about scoliosis was that I couldn’t control it; there was nothing I could do to stop it or make it better. This wasn’t like any other situation where I could put effort into something to achieve it. I had to wait and see what that mischievous snake of mine decided to do. All of these thoughts crowded my mind to a point where my brain wouldn’t process what my eyes were seeing anymore. My eyes focused again on my figure and I turned to face the mirror completely. My eyes drifted away from my body and I looked at the reflection of my face. This one was getting more and more serious and my eyes more watery. I forced myself to cry. I had the belief that if I cried, things would get better. I wasn’t one of those people who stopped themselves from crying. Instead, I always forced myself to cry, thinking that with each tear I dropped, my back would become a little straighter. So, that July 11th, I ran into the shower dropping a bittersweet tear- one of pain and hope- on the pink flowers of my dress.
My parents and I were at the waiting room of a hospital in Seville, waiting for my name to be called. None of us really knew what the problem was. All we knew is that there was something in my body that was not okay. A couple of weeks ago, we were sightseeing London. There, I got my first bra. I was so excited about it even if it was merely a bra that looked like a sports bra. In fact, I think it was a sports bra. As I was trying it on, my mother noticed that one of my hips was more pronounced than the other. She was convinced that the reason for that was that one of my legs was shorter than the other. Since I was 11, I thought that one of my hips started developing and the other one was developing at a slower rate. On the other hand, my dad decided not to make speculations and see what prognostic the doctor would give. I had already gotten an X-ray of my entire body done and the doctor was supposed to already have examined it by the time we got called in.
I looked around the room impatiently. There were a couple of boys my age playing on a black Nintendo DS and being as loud as one could be playing videogames. I wasn’t very patient and the fact that they were being so noisy was seriously bugging me.
“Hidalgo, Elisa”, I heard a fat middle-aged doctor call my name. I didn’t like the look on that doctor’s face. It appeared to me as if he was tired of his job and was there just for the money, with little motivation.
Anyhow, we stood up right away and followed the doctor to a door marked number 16. We went in and he sat down in front of us. He picked up a thick blackish sort of paper from his desk, which I assumed was the X-ray. His movements were quite robotic and his face, emotionless. He placed the x-ray on a strange thing that was stuck to the wall. It reminded me of a picture frame except for the fact that it was more technological. It had buttons and was divided in different sections by very thin lines. After having placed it there, he pressed one of those buttons; the button. The button that projected light from the frame into the X-ray so we could see it more clearly. I jolted backwards in my chair, stunned. It felt as if I was the centre of the world and this one had stopped for a few seconds.
When those seconds passed, I burst into tears screaming the five words that would be engraved on my head during my entire life, “My back is a snake”.
After I was diagnosed a lot of things in my life changed for me. I started wearing a brace and going to several doctors who would only point flaws in my whole body. They’d say that my pelvis was tilted forwards, my knees rotated inwards, my feet outwards, and a lot more. But, that didn’t matter to me very much. I got X-rays done every half a year and when I did, they crashed my hope.
I have had to live with this problem and I’ve grown up with it. It has, definitely, been a big part of my life. Because of it, I never give up on anything quickly. I believe that I have control over them and that, if this is the case, I can achieve anything with determination, but not with hope. I’ve learnt that I’m not defined as only a girl with scoliosis. I’m much more than that no matter what all those doctors said at one point.
Now, I’ve stopped growing and my back will stay as it is. It’s obviously not straight but the doctors say I can perfectly live like this, and that I won’t need an operation. However, I still have to take care of my back and my journey and battle will never finish. Yet, for now, we think the snake is not poisonous.