how I learned self-esteem | part 1

I don't remember if I've ever shared this story before, so forgive me if you've heard it.

When I was 9 years old, I went to an ENT (ear nose and throat specialist) to see about some histamine drops for my allergies. Well, I got a couple of shots to see what I was allergic to (pretty much everything: trees, grass, dog fur, horse hair, cat fur, pollen, etc.). Anyways, then I saw the ENT. He felt around my neck and up by my ears, and his sensitive hands detected something amiss near my collar bone. He told my mother that I had hypothyroidism, and about sent her through the floor. We had no idea what that was, or what the heck an endocrinologist was, who he recommended I go see. 

Off to the endocrinologist we went, and after some blood tests found that I did indeed have hypothyroidism, which meant that one side of my thyroid was slightly larger than the other one. Dr. Mary was shocked that the ENT had been able to detect such a slight enlargement with his hands. Dr. Mary was a very nice woman, and she made me feel at ease. She explained that my thyroid, a gland in the neck, wasn't producing enough of the hormones that regulate body growth and  metabolism. She said it was unusual that I had hypothyroidism, because that was usually found in overweight children, and I had always been very petite. It explained why I was so short and why I was always so tired.

Well, after learning more about it, I was put on a medication that I would have to take every day for pretty much the rest of my life (still taking it). I would need regular blood tests (at least twice a year) to make sure that I was getting enough to help my thyroid produce correctly. Well, it worked, because I went through something of a growth spurt. I was still fairly small, but I grew a little. Around this same time, I had started taking ballet lessons again after a two-year break. One part of ballet lessons is always posture check, where all the dancers stand as tall as they can, with their feet in ready position and their hands and arms in first position, waiting for the ballet instructor to come and check and adjust their posture if need be.

My teacher, Miss Janna, was always adjusting my posture. Constantly. She would adjust my hips, and then my shoulders, and then my hips again, as though she could never get me to line up quite straight. I believe she even mentioned it to my mom, who didn't really think much of it. Then one day in 5th grade, my class was screened by the school nurse for scoliosis, or curvature of the spine. When my turn came, I noticed that the nurse sure spent a long time feeling my spine as I touched my toes.

I got home that day and told my mom about my screening. She decided that we should ask Dr. Mary about it. So we did, and Dr. Mary felt my spine with my hands touching my toes. She was concerned about it, and referred us to an orthopedic surgeon, saying that the reason it had manifested itself more prominently was because of my recent growth spurt due to the thyroid medication. We saw Dr. Milliner, a man from South Africa. After x-rays and a chat, it was determined that I did indeed have scoliosis. A lateral s-curve to be exact, and it was too severe to remedy with physical therapy. I would need to have a special body brace made, one formed to my body with foam pads placed that would make my spine straight. I would need to wear it for 16 hours a day, mostly at night while I slept. It would go from the top of my chest, to the top of my thighs, with it being higher and lower in the back. I would have to wear special undershirts so that the foam would not chafe my skin.

I would have to wear it at school, and likely until I stopped growing. Even then, surgery in adulthood wouldn't be out of the question. All this, I found out in the heat of an Arizona summer, just before I would enter the 6th grade. That is when I started to feel extremely uncomfortable in my own skin.

to be continued.

4 comments :

  1. Thank you for sharing! I was born with problems that make me walk funny. I flat out refused surgery and never went through a brace etc. I'm so glad you're sharing your story!!

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  2. Kylie, I loved hearing this story from you recently and I love it in its written version as well. I can't wait to read more. :]

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  3. Thanks for sharing this :) it's crazy the different trials we have.

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Thanks for reading! I love reading your thoughts, too :)