Braced, a Scoliosis Book Review

braced cover

Thank-you Alyson Gerber for creating a book for our curvy kids – finally.  Thank-you for creating a book that isn’t just facts and figures, but a story about a young Scoliosis patient who is going through the same thing that many of our kids are going through today.  I was asked to evaluate this book by a local librarian and it was actually the first fiction book that I took the time to read in…I’m embarrassed to say…probably a year.  And, I love to read.  I just have too many other things going on.  This was well worth the time, though. (and spurred me on to read more)  I was hoping that this would be a well-written piece and it did not disappoint.  (And, I am a very picky editor!) It is definitely written for the young teens and tweens, but I actually enjoyed it quite a bit, too, because it gave me the perspective of a teen mind that many of us Moms don’t get to catch a glimpse of very often.  The story was interesting – making it a good book to recommend to any child, not just one going through Scoliosis.  It would also be great to recommend to friends of Scoliosis kids, who might be having a hard time understanding how to be supportive of their friends.

Braced, is about a young girl named Rachel, who loves soccer and loves her besties.  It takes the reader through her journey of bracing – through all the ups and downs, emotions, and regular teenage life. I asked my daughter, who is 15, to read, it, too.  Although at 287 pages it is a good-sized book, my daughter was done in an hour and a half.  I think that is a tribute to what a well-flowing book it really is.  I asked her if she shared any emotions with the main character and her response was surprising – she said she really didn’t remember the time she was bracing. She braced for 6 years!  But, since it was from the age of 6-12, she doesn’t remember a lot of those emotions.  And, we did not have either of our kids in a Boston brace.  As I’ve mentioned in other articles, although it is the standard out there, I do not think it is very effective, compared to other treatments.  But, that is ok, because the trials and tribulations that Rachel goes through in the story are relatable to any young person going through trials –and it’s useful for their parents, too.  My daughter enjoyed the story for what it was.

I highly recommend you get your Scoli friend or family member a copy of this book.  Pair it with a Higgy Bear and you’ll have a great gift set! (Ok, maybe a Brace T-shirt from EmBraced In Comfort, just to round it out) 🙂 Happy reading, everyone!

Perfectly Imperfect

We’ve all heard the phrase “Progress, not perfection”.  Perfectionism is something I spend a lot of time thinking about because I struggle with it every day.  It seems that no matter how much I do or how far I’ve come, I always feel that I fall short due to my constant plague of perfectionism.  Striving to be great is a good thing, but, perfectionism can really hold us back in some instances, especially when it comes to dealing with an illness or a malady, like Scoliosis.

When my daughter was first diagnosed, I was overcome with anxiety – and experienced a lot of sadness for my child, whose body would never be perfect.  I knew after that diagnosis that her life would change forever.   I also felt overwhelmed by the many different treatments out there.  I wanted to choose the perfect one – but, as we all know, there are no perfect solutions.  And, there are no guaranteed outcomes.  So, I struggled.

But, over the years, I’ve grown to expect less and less perfection from my life.  I think that God honed me through trial until I realized that perfection is an impossibility.  And, it can also be a hindrance.  How many times do people feel paralyzed due to the overwhelming need to “figure it all out” before they start an endeavor?  How many are afraid to start something because they feel they need to make things perfect or they might fail?  If I had waited to start my business until everything was perfectly aligned, I’d still be waiting to start – because nothing is EVER perfectly aligned!  People can hold themselves back from doing SOMETHING because they don’t want to risk falling short of getting EVERYTHING.  But, life isn’t that way.  It doesn’t exist in absolutes.

Now, when an overwhelmed parent contacts me with a new Scoliosis diagnosis, I try to point out that this disease is a marathon.  It’s a journey without an end.  It will be the new normal of LIFE.  So, don’t worry if you can’t brace a perfect 22 hours a day from the start.  And, don’t worry if you miss 1 out of 5 exercise-therapy sessions.  Even 10 hours per day in a brace is progress toward that 22.  And, 1 out of 5 exercise sessions is better than zero.  My son gets stressed out when he is going to an overnight sleepover because he doesn’t want to bring his brace.  And, you know what?  I tell him to leave it home.  It’s ok to take a night off.  It’s ok to take a deep breath.  Because our kids have to be in this for the long haul – they have to feel like every bit helps, but that one can still be successful when they get things maybe 90% right.  Because the only guarantee in life is that we will fall short of perfection 100% of the time.   And the only way they will believe this is if we believe this.

So, now when I look at my daughter from an angle that shows her a-symmetry, I sit and marvel at how what I viewed as an imperfection is really a very beautiful thing.  My daughter taught me that she was proud of her surgery scar.  She is proud of how strong she is.   And, when my son comes at me with his frequent “hug attacks”, and I can’t fully embrace him because he is encased in his brace, I marvel at his tenderhearted strength through it all.  And, now it’s impossible to see them as anything but perfectly imperfect.  They are perfectly imperfect, our family is perfectly imperfect, and the reality is that I wouldn’t have it any other way.