Ryan has had it since he was a baby. It’s a “C” curve to his left side. His OT and I noticed it as Ryan would lean to one side in his infant seat. Today, its not obvious to others unless in a bathing suit and swim shirt. You can see him lean and favor one side. And with his shirt off, well, it just makes me sad.
He was first braced at a little over age 1. He would wear the little toddler-sized brace at naptimes and bedtime. Every time we squeezed his skinny low-toned body into it, he would gasp a touch, and breathe harder. Until at last he would adjust and relax into the brace. Not that it was a relaxing thing, but he would just surrender to the process, the sweetie pie. Ryan wore that brace until he was finally up and walking at three years of age. How we waited for both of those major milestones!
The protocol after that was to watch and wait and get yearly x-rays. We would have check-ins and check-ups with our “orthopod” in Beverly Hills. Notice I say we. When you are a mother, sometimes the lines just get blurred, don’t they?
Ryan is “9-almost-10,” as he says it, and he has a new brace. The curve is at a 28-30 degree again, and surgery is recommended at a 50 degree curve. His new brace is huge and clunky and cumbersome compared to the toddler brace of days gone by. It has spaceships all over it as if somehow that is comforting to him, even though he cannot see it when he wears it. (ok, my sad-bad attitude about this is poking out…)
However, Ryan, yet again, exceeds our expectations and WILLINGLY wears his blue brace. And sometimes the sweet boy actually seems proud of it. Luke calls him “Ironman” when he wears it, and Kate reminds him, “It’ll make your back so strong.” And sometimes I smile-the-proud-mama-smile, and sometimes I hold back tears. Will we surprise the doctor again with dramatic improvement after 1-2 years of bracing? OR is surgery completely inevitable? I tell myself, “Wait and see…wait and see. Hope. Have some hope, Jessica.” (I know you talk to yourselves, too.)
I have a different kind of OSIS—-perfection-osis. Yes, I just made up a word. My heart is curved. Figuratively speaking of course. The more years go on (just had my 43rdbirthday), the more I am aware of my perfectionism.
I do not say this like it’s a wonderful badge of honor. Its more like an admission and confession, an owning up of a condition that has plagued me since I was a kid. Which is why I have had headaches, and now migraines, since I was 12. I’m sure of it. I even had a neurologist tell my mom when I was in college that headaches come with my type of personality and expectations. I may have food allergies, but truly I think I have heart and soul allergies.
There is a brace for this sort of problem: God’s love. For me. Wrapped around me. If I would be so willing, as Ryan, to accept the brace daily.
Lately, through books, devotionals, and messages from my pastor, loud and clear, this is what’s coming through:
That if I could “live increasingly from my real Center, where God’s love has an eternal grip on me, “ I could let go of my perfectionism.
If I truly understood the depth of how the amazing God of the Universe sees me, loves me, accepts me, cherishes me, supports me, heals me, and embraces me unconditionally:
–I would care less about others’ opinions or approval of me.
–I would be less obsessive about working out and staying fit. (Yes, I do this to be healthy, it’s a passion of mine, but honestly there is vanity mixed in as well.)
–I would spend less on the frivolous stuff.
–I would probably be a more patient mom and more fun, too.
–I would not be driven by such self-imposed high expectations.
–I would therefore have less stress and less headaches.
–I would be more “others-focused” and giving of myself.
–I would probably never or less often hear the words, “Oh, Jess, you are so hard on yourself.”
Which you might be saying as you read this blog post.
Yet, I say all this openly and share this because I so want to live my life with intention, and grow, and not be stuck with my curved heart. Perfection-osis leads to heart and soul death.
Ryan must wear his brace.
And so must I.