I grew up in the stereotypical traditional working class Italian-Catholic family. Mom, dad, and one older sister. My life was fairly ordinary until junior high school when I was diagnosed with scoliosis.
Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine. I was told I would need to where a Milwaukee Brace until I was done growing. My first reaction was to think forget it, no way, I wouldn’t where it. I was already dealing with the usual horrors of adolescence, acne, braces, and trying to fit in. How much more could a girl endure?!
My mom dragged me to a scoliosis clinic at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. While I was waiting for my appointment, I saw other people with scoliosis. I talked to a girl who refused to wear the brace, and her curve continued to get worse. She now needed a metal rod surgically implanted to her spine forever. I saw some girls with back braces, they didn't seem to mind too much. Numerous people whose backs were obviously not straight. I had a conversation with an elderly man whose back was contorted. He convinced me that I should do everything I could not to end up in his condition. The deformity limited his mobility, caused him constant pain and respiratory problems. The day at the clinic scared me enough to know I would do anything nonsurgical to keep my back as straight as possible.
The reason I am telling you about my scoliosis, it is my motivation to always keep my back healthy by staying physically fit. I wore the brace in middle school through my senior year of high school. It was once I started swimming and exercising my core on a regular basis that I saw dramatic results in my treatment. My curve actually improved! It kept improving into my adulthood. When I was rechecked in my 20’s, my double curve went from 25 and 15 degrees to 18 and 8 degrees, an impressive improvement. I actually grew ½ inch -- one hell of a good motivation. In the process of staying fit for my back, I also learned how to play and enjoy the outdoors.