Ten Years with Scoliosis
This year marks the 10th year since I was diagnosed with a back condition called Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis. Scoliosis is a chronic illness shaping your back as an S and it is the most common type of spinal deformity. My case was so severe that I had to go in for surgery the year after.
The progression of this illness is emotionally draining and physically exhausting, but thanks to the wonderful and highly qualified medical professionals at the Hospital in Oslo, Norway – I was after an 8 hour long surgery 7 cm taller as they straightened my back out with the help of two metal rods, three links of chain, 14 screws and 63 stitches. I count myself incredibly lucky to be able to say that I don’t have to live a limited life because of my medical history. I’ve had endless opportunities to pursue the things I’ve wanted to pursue with the resources needed. That’s something I’ll always be grateful for.
Sadly, not everyone can say that.
The thought of not having the privileges I’ve had is the reality of so many people from all over, and its something that is weighing on my heart as I reflect on the past ten years of my life.
A couple of years ago, I went to Papua New Guinea with a team from the Discipleship Training School I was helping to lead at the time. We went to a coastal village in the Central Province and I saw a girl – probably around 5 or 6 years old, and I could tell that she had scoliosis based on the way that she walked. I approached her family and ended up talking to her parents.
It is so confronting to see the poverty and the reality that Papua New Guineans face every day – especially as I’ve found myself in an identical circumstance, and the accessibility for help was so very different.
As I was talking to her parents I could sense the hopelessness they were feeling. No matter how much they wanted to help their daughter get well, there was no light in the end of their tunnel. I don’t know how she is doing today, but I know first hand the pain that she walks in every day, and I also know that no one deserves that.
It’s not ok that a little 5 year old can’t get the treatment she desperately needs because of lack of resources, but chronic illness ignores whether you’re over or under the national poverty line. I was able to speak a little bit of life into this family that day. I wasn’t able to help them in the practical way I desperately wanted to, but I was able to share with them that there is a greater plan for her life.
Joining staff at YWAM Townsville is probably the best decision I’ve ever made. Being a part of creating a brighter end in the tunnel of so many people’s lives has given me a sense of purpose and I am so proud and excited about the work that we do in Australia and Papua New Guinea.