I Am More than the Sum of My Parts

Here I am on a sunny day, sitting in the college library, supposedly writing an essay about how the 'highly sexualized' nature of Tifa Lockheart and Aerith Gainsborough from Final Fantasy VII is in fact not a bad thing despite what feminist theorists say, and I'm distracted. I'm distracted because this chair is about as comfortable as sitting on a bag filled with hamsters and no-name brand Jell-O. I'm distracted because I'm suffering some serious heartache (which, I might add, I can almost work into an entirely different post about scoliosis). But most of all I'm distracted because the computers here are very close together and I can't shake the feeling that the guy sitting next to me can read everything I'm writing. If that is so then he knows a lot of personal things that I'll probably have to kill him to protect.

Here's the deal with today's post. I've been fighting with this heartache issue for a while now, probably because this is, as my mom put it, my first serious crush (I didn't bother suggesting that it might be more than a crush, whatevs' yo!) And due to that, my over-analyzing brain also takes into account just about anything that is going on in said crush's life (he shall henceforth be known as the Boy, just to make it simple.)

This week, something happened to the Boy. An ending of something that has occupied his life since he was 16 or so. Hockey. That's right, one of the top three important things to Canadians (the other two being beer and apologizing to people.)

You see, the Boy was part of the WHL (Western Hockey League, I think) and when you hit 20-21, you're out. Now, this isn't your everyday hockey league. This is living, breathing, eating, time-devouring, happiness-destroying, family-leaving, school-abandoning hockey; you sign away your soul to become part of it, and for five or six years all you ever do or think is hockey.

And then you hit 21 and you're out. Never mind the fact that I'm sure these guys are hardly prepared for the 'Real World' like the rest of us mere mortals, they have limited experiences as far as anything outside of hockey goes, and are (by the sounds of it) actually discouraged from doing things without the team. Yeah, yeah, I know, don't drink the Koolaid. It's bizarre, but understandable if you love something that passionately.

What has this got to do with scoliosis, you ask? Simple really. For ten years (give or take a few months) my life revolved around hospital visits, x-rays, surgeries, and specialists. I have a limited number of memories of middle school just because I spent more time in the hospital than I did actually attending any classes (and I will blame my poor math skills on that for the rest of my life!) High school was a bit better, only because I was fortunate enough to have some of the greatest teachers alive who liked to banter with me and encouraged sarcasm. At the end of the day though, I was still being swallowed alive by scoliosis and all of the nasty bi-products of it.

Then it stopped. Well, not so much stopped as my second surgeon (who shall henceforth be known as Dr. Stoic and his predecessor, Dr. Elf) realized that for the time being there was very little left to do. With my lower curve progressing at about a rate of one degree a year, I wouldn't have to consider another surgery to fuse the last of my spine for about five years, and while having it sooner might help solve some of the chronic pain, it was something I wasn't willing to risk.

So that was it, a shake of the hand, a 'Good luck to ya' and 'Call if you need anything' and I was out, thrown into the big wide world with only a spork and a garbage can lid to protect myself against the harpies and orcs (incidentally, aim for the throat.) As depressing as ten years of surgeries and hospital visits and the like was, I found myself paralyzed in a way I had never felt before the moment I left the Foothills Hospital. I was, by all intents and purposes, free from it. My scoliosis still raged, and I'm fairly certain my back was still there (Although I haven't checked recently), but suddenly my calendar was no longer built around the next visit. It should have been a freeing experience, so why did I cry?

Maybe because suddenly not only was I without answers to the pain, but I felt as if I was by myself, suddenly fighting something I didn't know or like or understand all by myself. The experiences I gained from scoliosis served as a way to unite my mom and I in ways I'm sure wouldn't have happened had I grown up an average teenager; where would 'we' be if we didn't have hospital visits to go to?

I had never felt so lost in my whole life, a ship without a harbor, a cookie without a chip, a shoe without a jelly insert. Worse than that, because thoughts of scoliosis had occupied my life for so long I realized that I had put very little thought into my future. It wasn't that I hadn't envisioned any sort of future for myself (in the grimmest sense) , it was that I couldn't understand how a future was possible without scoliosis, and anything I planned on doing would inevitably revolve around the scoliosis and not the other way around.

Oh, well screw that bullcrap, I'm going to be a PI and a writer, and you can suck it, idiopathic scoliosis! Okay, that's all very well and good. We can all cheer and throw streamers, maybe a pinata or two, but like every other moment of my life since the day I was born, it wasn't as simple as I thought.

You see, I'm perfectly capable of conquering the idea of my back controlling my life; fact of the matter is I kicked that habit a long time ago. I have bad days the same as anyone, but for the most part I know what I am first and foremost, a gal who loves writing thrillers and satire and wants to take down evil corporations (I'm looking at you, Proctor and Gamble!). It's what's inside that counts... except obviously my spine is inside, so I guess what I mean is it's what's in my soul that counts. Unless of course we want to start arguing the actual existence of a soul and what in fact a soul is made up of or could it possibly just stem from our own realization that we are separate entities from our mothers.

The point is I don't let it rule my life. Yes, after ten years that leaves a rather large gaping wound in my existence, but I fill it a bit more every day. So what's the problem? Perhaps the fact that everyone else still sees me as the 'Back Girl' (some also see me as the girl who got a guy to punch her in the stomach while she was wearing her Boston brace and it was HI-larious. But that's a story for another day.) The one question I'm asked more than anything is 'how is your back today?' Not 'Have you heard from the publishers?' or 'Did that Agency get back to you yet?' or 'Why has the cat been shaved?' or even 'Why does the downstairs bathroom smell like a methamphetamine lab?' Nope, number one question is how my back is. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the concern, but it's awfully tricky for a girl to get rid of the label that was attached to her for a decade when no one else will let it go.

I don't know what's worse, the fact that everyone continues to see the scoliosis side of me, or the fact that they don't see the writer-drug-dealer side of me. I jest, I jest... I'm not really a writer.

The point is this label, this stupid, irritating label, is stuck to me like a leech, and just as life-draining as one. I know what I'm capable of, I know what I can be and the potential I have, so why is it everyone else insists on clinging to the worst thing that ever happened to me? Who wants to live with that sort of label, I ask you?

There you have it. I don't know if the Boy will have more luck than me, I certainly hope so. He's a very talented writer and will be going to the best school in the country. I don't know if he'll always be the Hockey Boy first and the Journalism Boy second, but I certainly hope either way he doesn't let it drag him down. There's nothing more difficult in my opinion than convincing other people that you're no longer the person they saw you as.

Maybe one day I'll be able to do it, I'll publish a novel or save a child in a custody dispute or just do something, anything memorable, and when people talk about it they won't say 'That gal with scoliosis did bla bla bla.'

No, they'll be saying 'That Kathleen Sawisky, she's just written a best seller' and leave it at that and that's when I'll come out with the 'Golly my back hurts today!' because quite frankly, screwing with peoples minds is the only way I can get any enjoyment these days.

Kathleen

PS: Boys and heartache are stupid, stupid things and I hate them very, very much. Except the Boys part. Or more realistically one Boy. I hate all of them except one Boy. Stupid first heartache.

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