The Truth & Beauty of a (Scoliosis) Scar

Wow I am so very touched by the pictures from the latest royal wedding. Not because it’s a royal wedding and not because I care about Eugenie and her (now) husband but because Eugenie has proudly showed her scar from her scoliosis surgery - and the media has not only noticed but has positively commented on it.

It took me many years to find pride in the scar from my scoliosis surgery. My scar stretches all the way down my spine. But after years of trying to hide it (which you can’t really, if you love the beach as much as I do) and a few thoughts about plastic surgery, I learned to carry it with pride. I learned that my scar is actually my medal - from a terrible battle only a few have fought at such a young age. (I must ad here that one of the most beautiful things a man ever told me was my husband shyly admitting that he finds my scars (I also have one on my hip from the same surgery) sexy.)

Approximately 2-3% of population suffers from scoliosis - a degenerative curvature of the spine - and it’s mostly girls. Wearing a brace is the first thing in trying to correct the curvature. I was stuck in my brace for six years (for 23h a day!) of my life - from 9-15 years of age. It’s a horrendous experience. It’s horribly painful - I sometimes had open wounds from the brace; it terribly disturbs your practical life; and it turns a child - in the years she’s most vulnerable to her image - into a freak. I spent many years in a metal brace that went all the way up to my chin. Try walking to school, sitting in school, having a social life , doing your homework in a painful medieval torture tool.

After years of the horrors of the brace and daily physical therapy, my doctor concluded I had to have surgery. I described the surgery in detail in my book Titoland and it is too painful to repeat it here. Let me say this: a week of being stretched out with heavy weights before the surgery; being cut open, stretched out, spine fused with a ling metal rod - and then woken up still open on the surgery table in order to prove you can consciously move. The most indescribable pains of recovery - you’ve been cut open, your whole skeleton has been realigned, and now you have a long metal rod sticking to your spine. Six months in a full upper body cast followed by six months in a brace.

I can proudly say the horror I experienced at the fragile age of 15 did make me stronger. I know what really matters in life. I know what a blessing health is. I know how fragile we are and how we should LOVE every moment when life is ok (not great - ok). I know not to let minor pain scare me.

Every time I enter a ballet class and feel the wood of the bar in the palm of my hand I’m overwhelmed by being endlessly grateful that I can move.

A few years ago, I was approached by a mother of a girl wearing a brace for her scoliosis. She told me how scared her daughter was - and I knew this feeling. I was so happy I could share my experience with the girl, send her pictures of my wedding dress with an open back, videos of me dancing - and tell her her beautiful, healthy self is waiting to reveal herself.

I wish I had the opportunity - like Eugenie does - to do this for more girls suffering from scoliosis.

P.S. This entry got so much attention that it became a story in Gloria:

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