Some days you remember for the rest of your life. Yesterday was one of those days.
After 1,921 days, from March 2006 until yesterday, my daughter has worn a back brace for her pediatric scoliosis, nearly 24/7. Starting in 2nd grade. Every day. When it was 95 degrees at summer camp. Every night.
When her wonderful doctor, Dr. Michelle Caird, of the University of Michigan’s Children’s Hospital told us yesterday afternoon that she no longer had to continue wearing the brace, it was as if my daughter had more than won the lottery. The ear to ear smile never left her face the rest of the day. I think she was smiling while she slept last night.
What was so emotional was how she has handled this for all these years and the things she shared yesterday. These are the life lessons that make us so proud of her, which is why I am writing this.
She realizes that others have had to deal with far worse things. Yes, hers was a daily inconvenience. But she did not have cancer. She was not dying. She just had to wear this brace every day and every night. It was uncomfortable. It meant not being able to wear regular blue jeans or tighter fitting shirts. It meant wearing different clothing than other kids. But she handled this so well, most people never even knew, as she rarely ever complained. She never let it slow her down or contain her enthusiasm for life. Not at all.
She talked of how she could not have done this without so many people’s support. Family, friends, other parents, camp counselors and more. Everyone would assist in putting it on for her. Wearing her brace meant that she could not sit on the floor. In grade school, when teachers read during “carpet time,” she would sit on a chair, in the back or side of the room. And quietly, her friends would join her. That is true friendship. That is what supporting someone really means.
So Rachel, we are lucky. You are lucky. The brace worked. You are healthy and have handled this challenge with such maturity, way beyond your age. You did it every day and with a phenomenal attitude. So celebrate! Go buy those jeans you want to!
I am very thankful that your mom was persistent in dealing with your medical issues, and recognized that we needed a new specialist in 2006. I’m thankful that your pediatrician, Dr. Vicky Solway, recommended that we go to UM Children’s Hospital. I’m thankful that Dr. Michelle Caird is so knowledgeable and kind to you. I’m thankful that Ron, of Wright and Fillipis, who made your many braces, treated you so well.
I will miss the closeness of you asking: “Dad, will you put on my brace?” But not too much! And I’ll adjust to this change very well. And I know that you will too.