Sunday, January 26, 2014

A piece of Julz

It's funny how little we care about things till they happen to us. For a decent number of years before I was diagnosed I used to make jokes about scoliosis. I called and I still call chairs with curved back rests Scoliosis chairs. Back then I had no idea what was going on in my back. All through high school and Senior high school I had some pains in my back but it was for short periods of time and not severe so I never paid attention to it. You see I was a very sporty person. I played basketball and swam a lot so the muscles in my back were pretty strong.

Having a swimming pool in my hostel during university and joining the basketball team there kept me on a relatively good path. The problem started when I graduated from University and joined the working class. No one ever prepares you enough for that. When I think about how 'stressed' I felt in school as compared to working a 9 to 5, I just laugh. Goodness I sometimes even wish I was back in school.

Moving on, I wasn't exactly carrying bags of cement or bending over to pick cotton, I was doing the usual office administration work but a lot had changed.

l  I was sitting for long hours.
l  I was standing a lot waiting for the bus to and from work
l  I wasn't getting enough time to play basketball
l  I rarely went to swim because of proximity to the pool
l  I spent hours sitting at my desk on my computer even when I was working from home

Things had clearly changed. The pain in my back got worse until I went to the hospital. I had an x-ray done. Isn't it funny how the person doing the x-ray always hides when he's about to take your x-ray? Lol. A week later the results came and it said there was nothing wrong. I thought “hey, maybe it's my chair at work so I spoke with my boss and we had it changed. The pain also changed, it got worse. My neck also joined in. My mother who is a retired nurse told me to go and see a specialist, an orthopaedic doctor so I did.

I took my X-rays with me. The doctor studied them for a while, examined me and asked if I had certain pains. He was 100% spot on. You know how excited you get when someone describes an exact feeling? I was almost smiling. He diagnosed me with a mild case of thoracolumbular scoliosis. This simply means that between the thoracic and lumber portions of my spine it is curved slightly, in my case, to the left. He further went on to tell me that I didn't need surgery (woohoo!) but I would have to wear a brace :-( , a lumber support to be specific. He also advised regular swimming to strengthen my back muscles. “Why swimming?” I asked and he told me that because of the water it would put less strain on my spine itself. Plus it was a cool (low temperature) way of getting a serious workout.

After that day I have had a completely new lifestyle. I wear a lumber support (which makes me a size bigger), I sleep on an orthopedic mattress, I take a decent amount of pain killers, I don't wear heels and try to swim as often as I can. So many things have changed. Scoliosis does that. There are times when the pain gets so overbearing it disturbs my mood and all my plans go out the window.

Rather than feel sorry for myself, I looked for ways to make my life cool and fun again. So I

l  Got a swimming partner :-)
l  Got a tablet to do all my computing needs while I lie down in bed
l  Altered my clothes so my lumber support doesn't look odd.
l  Stopped my 9-5 and ran my own business
l  Found a number of swimming pools close to me

Living with scoliosis is hard but the honest truth is that when you plan your lifestyle well, the pain will reduce drastically. I haven't gotten to the point where I go weeks/months without aches and pains but I'm constantly working hard to get there. God doesn't give us anything we can't handle :) 

Scoliosis :  a medical condition in which a person's spine is curved from side to side. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Angela looked at her watch. Her brother was 20 minutes late. She played around with her drink uncomfortably. She didn't like where she was. She didn't like shabby public places like this. She just had to give her brother some money and he suggested they meet there. She was contemplating leaving when she saw an old friend of hers. He was called Henry. He walked straight up to her and sat down. "Wow, Angela how are you? It's been so long." He said. Angela nodded boldly. She told him why she was there and they did a little catching up. She enjoyed his company even after all those years. "Where is your Rosary ring? You always used to wear it." Henry asked. Angela looked at her empty finger. “I don’t believe in those things anymore. I’m now an atheist. Henry was surprised so he asked why. "I don't think God exists. If he did he wont let evil things happen to good people." She said and sipped on her drink.

Henry was even more surprised. He remembered Angela was one of the most dedicated Christians in school. "Well I can't say I understand all God does but..." Henry started but Angela cut him short. "I watched my dad lose everything. First his job, then his wife and finally his life. I had to wait tables just to pay for his funeral. There is no God, just luck." She said. Henry could feel the bitterness in her voice. "I'm sorry about your father. He was a good man. All I can say is things happen for a reason." He said. Angela was about to reply when she felt the floor underneath her shake. She looked down immediately and saw that the building was collapsing. There were screams all over the place.

People rushed to the exit but the stairs were the first to cave in. The screams got louder as one pillar underneath them fell causing the whole floor to tilt. The people on that side fell to their doom as others held on to anything they could find. Henry grabbed a table leg and pulled Angela to it. As they hung there they could see another pillar about to give away. Angela looked down. They were 3 stories up. Her heart beat hard. Was she going to join her father wherever he was? "Angela we might not make it. Please accept Christ now before it's too late. Just pray." Henry yelled. She was surprised he was thinking about her at this moment. She looked up and saw that the table leg was about to break.

Just as it broke and they slid down to the edge of the floor she closed her eyes to pray. "We are glad to have you back. You will join us in heaven but not today." She heard a voice say. She opened her eyes. She was inches away from the edge when she grabbed on to a decorative light pole. Henry got a hold of it too. She looked around and saw a roll of water hose attached to the wall. She turned and saw 7 people holding on in fear. She turned to Henry. "We can use the water hose to climb down!" She yelled. He looked at it and understood exactly what she meant. She stretched her hand and dragged it towards her. "Ok, go down before the pillar gives away! " He screamed as she gave the hose to him. She smiled and said, "not today, I won’t die today." She gave him the hose and unrolled enough for Henry to climb down. Everyone cheered when he got down safely. Angela turned around and gave the hose to a child.  Henry and a few people downstairs helped the little boy as he came down. One after the other Angela helped all 7 people down. She climbed down as fast as she could herself and met a host of cheers.

Minutes after the area was cleared the second pillar collapsed. Angela was safely out of the building looking for Henry. She didn't find him. Wherever he was she wanted to say thank you for those few words that gave her back the life she lost: a life in Christ.