Monday, June 21, 2010
It's been a helluva week! Scoliosis, graduation, surgery, wisdom teeth, all at once.
I tutored intensively for 2 weeks leading up to exams, very little time off, very much brain power needed. I drove myself pretty mercilessly as is my wont at this time of year.
Return from retreat into more stress. My 18-year-old, Dylan, needs to have spinal surgery for pretty severe scoliosis which has just been diagnosed recently. We've spent the last month gathering information, going to appointments for yet another test, talking to very wonderful doctors, then getting together to try to make the best decision possible about when to have the surgery. Dylan had been making very exciting plans to go to China this summer with a friend - he had gotten so much figured out - where to stay, how to get there, what to do while there (teach at two different schools as well as learn Chinese, then travel whenever possible), how to pay for it, etc., etc. Then this stupid operation began to seem necessary sooner than later. The recovery time is at least a month of fairly strong pain, more of discomfort and not being able to carry more than 8-10 pounds at one time. His spine is tilted at about 70 degrees and looks somewhat like a question mark. Unfortunately it hasn't stopped descending, nor will it until it is stopped.
We finally made the choice that he needs the surgery this summer - no China. It's just too hard to wait and not know if it's getting worse every day, and we want him to regain full mobility as much as possible. The surgery will be complicated due to surgery he had on his spine when he was 10, but we're praying for great results.
So why would I write about this on my blog? Well, it's about body image, isn't it? And having issues like scoliosis affects body image, for sure. Dylan said he didn't even really notice that he had scoliosis until he found out that he did, and now he's aware of it all the time. My daughter read fashion magazines as a young and maturing teen, fully aware of the marketing job they were doing, and is more sensitive than not to wanting to look a certain way to fit the "look." We're all affected by what we know.
When I was growing up, I was hardly aware of my body, except for the period of time when my siblings taunted me with, "Fatty, fatty, two by four, can't get through the bathroom door" (though I actually wasn't fat - I just wasn't in the 3rd percentile for body weight like they were). As an adult, I hated my stomach, but otherwise didn't think about my body. I was thin enough - actually, I was underweight and didn't know it. I had so little awareness of my body. It wasn't until I gained weight to the point where I was beginning to enter the "normal" weight range, that I started having any body issues to speak of. Now, as I enter my 50's and my metabolism is slowing down, I'm exercising more and slowly but surely putting on pounds. I feel bad about it most of the day when it enters my consciousness. It really sucks. I can hardly bear to think what women who are overweight must think of themselves. So much pain around our bodies. Is is possible to just love them unconditionally? To accept them as they are? To get them repaired when needed (as my son will do), and love them just as they are all the time? I don't know how to achieve that. I have so many expectations of how I should look and such distortions about how I actually look. I probably wouldn't recognize my own body in a line-up of bodies without heads - I'd probably figure myself for 30-40 pounds heavier.
Where on earth does that come from???? Why are we so wretched to ourselves? Such searing searching....