"I'm going to be a firetruck!"

Yesterday was a bad pain day. Admittedly, I could very easily be a drug addict, I take morphine for breakthrough pain which, these days, is happening more and more. I've never abused my drug privileges mostly because of the terrifying fear that one misstep with any narcotic will suddenly cause my brain to warp into a large fungal covered sponge with droopy green jell-O-like soup in which for it to stew. That fear, along with the whole 'losing-control-of-my-life' fear, have combined to make me very cautious with my medication, even on days when I wake up and just know that it's going to be a bad pain day. I can always tell, something doesn't feel right. That normal humpitude sensation on my right side somehow feels more pronounced, like a small armadillo has attached itself to my back and then died. Meanwhile that delicate area of my entire spine just aches, plain old aches, aches like an old leather shoe. I mean, metaphorically if this shoe had an entire nervous system in which to feel pain, what with the synapses and all.

The point is, I just know when it's going to be a bad pain day, and those days, apart from being spent on the couch, curled into a ball, are usually spent reflecting a bit more on what this nasty misadventure has done to me as a person and lately, considering my many college choices and whatnot, my thoughts have strayed more and more into the realm of what I wanted to be when I was a child (hence the firetruck reference in the title. Shut up... I was nine... It was a phase... I'm over it... Mostly... I like sirens.)

I was never your average girl as far as stereotypical. According to my mom, my first major decision was when I was in grade four and announced that I wanted to be in CSIS (Canada's answer to the CIA.) Apparently the espionage/ action jackson factor was always present because I also had a police officer phase and an Indiana Jones phase. Can anyone tell me why I'll never be running agents in Russia and learning about secret nuclear bunkers that have remained hidden since the Cold War?

That's right. Scoliosis. I'm not an idiot, I know a 98% fused spine isn't exactly number one of the application form for spy school, but that urge to do something really amazing with my life, and perhaps just a bit dangerous, has always been present. And, of course, knowing that I can't do it makes me even more jealous of those who can.

It's a difficult thing to live with, knowing that something you want to do (and I still would love to be part of the RCMP) can never happen. I have these moments when it hits me particularly hard, and those always seem to lead to further thoughts like "I'll never get to sky dive or bungee jump" or "I'll never get to be a stunt woman for a Hollywood action flick." You might ask yourselves "But Kathleen, did you ever want to do those things to begin with?"

Okay, no, not really (maybe the stunt woman thing a little bit. But I'd never be able to. I like fire way too much.) It isn't so much the fact that I'll never do these things; it's that my choices in life have suddenly be slashed in half, and from now on everything I consider doing or trying has to first and foremost agree with my spine, and like a small child who is a very picky eater, my spine only wants to indulge in things that are pillowy and soft. So, maybe I'll work in a marshmallow factory or something, I don't know.

And of course there is the typical high school experience where we were forced to fill out aptitude tests, one after the other, that were supposed to lead us in the right direction. My top three choices were always the same oddly enough: Private Detective, Author, Bartender. I had always immediately discounted the PI because to me it fell under the very unpillowy and less-soft category that I had to avoid. That left author and bartender. Perfect! I love to write, I want to do that for a living more than anything else, and what better way to live while you write than be a bartender?

When I graduated I spent a solid six months unemployed just writing. With time to myself I finally was able to pull something together, and when mom and I finally moved to Red Deer and I got my rear in gear I took a bartending class at the college and kept plugging away at writing. (By the way, 100% on my practical, so if we ever have a Scoliosis meet-up I can totally do the drinks.)

But much like an in-law who just doesn't 'get it', the silly idea of being a Private Detective wouldn't let me go. I toyed with it for a few months, considering all the pluses and negatives. The list went something like this:

+ Saving the World
-Sitting for a long time
+Wearing a fedora without being pretencious
-Will probably have to take up smoking
+ Will get to bring closure to people.
- Will probably have to work with a lot of men.
+ Will probably have to work with a lot of men.
+Will have to learn some sort of wicked kung-fu to protect myself
+ Will finally have use for badass trenchcoat in my closet
+Will be able to make own schedule thus leaving time for writing
+ Will be able to do lots of problem solving so my brain won't get mushy.
+Will get to be a SPY.
-Teeth will stain from smoking and will have to spend lots of money on whitening.

So as you can see it is very clear what I have to do with my life. Yes, it's going to be hard on my spine, and yes, it's going to be something that involves a lot of patience which I fortunately have plenty of, but it's something else too, something far more important. It's what I want. It's not music, so it's not what my family wants, and it's not necessarily safe, so it's not what my friends want (actually my friends are stoked about it.) It's a career that will test my limits and keep me moving. There will be difficult days, and boring days, and days when I'll be downing more drugs than normal because I've been sitting on an apartment for eight hours waiting for that cheating scumbag to bring his slag up to their little love nest to have a midnight rendezvous even though he told his pregnant wife that he was out of town on a business trip god I hate people like that!

Where was I? Right, the point is it is something that I want, and in spite of it all, spines and surgeries, this is something that I'm fairly certain I can actually do. It may not be CSIS or the RCMP, but at the end of the day I'll still be helping people and maybe even giving them the sort of chances that I'll never have for myself, and really, is there any greater reward?

Yes, there is actually. I'd love to hear back from the publisher I sent my manuscript to and have them tell me that I'm the next 'big thing' and I'll never have to work again. But, you know, perspective and stuff like that. Being a PI is the next best thing.

So here's to us, the people in the world who have their dreams dashed all because we lost the game of genetics. More importantly, here's to us, who never let the pain hold us back completely. After all, we have to live with this for the rest of our lives, that gives us plenty of time to find a career that fits.

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