Tuesday, May 29, 2007

And a word from our graduate, Lori Baldwin

Lori, our 17-year-old, graduated from Covenant Day School on Saturday and we are very proud of her. She is bound for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with a possible major in journalism. (I wonder where she got that from? Not from her father the dentist! I believe she has potential to be a better writer than yours truly...but I keep warning her that there's not much money in writing.)

I was looking through some old files and found the following excerpt that I wrote 7 years ago:

"During a routine sports physical my eleven-year-old daughter, Lori, was diagnosed with scoliosis. Our family was shocked and she was scared. She worried that she would have to wear a brace and when her orthopedist confirmed her fear and said that her 27-degree curvature required a brace until she stopped growing, it was tough news to swallow. Then when he showed her a young man’s body brace it was hard to control the tears. What would the other kids at school think? How noticeable would it be? Could she still compete in sports? Lori was full of questions.

We went the route that families with scoliosis patients go: x-rays, measurements for the brace, waiting, and then finally, getting the brace fitted.

The first two days were the hardest as we tried to figure out what Lori could wear that would fit over the brace. We finally found one pair of shorts that were handed down from her older sister—just to go shopping in. Several trips to Old Navy and the mall, and several exchanges later we finally settled on a set of “brace clothes” and a few non-brace, for when she would be at camp, biking, or running(She was greatly relieved when the doctor OK’d taking the brace off for sports and other “necessities,” like going to an amusement park with friends).

At school the first day most of her classmate didn’t believe her when she told them she was wearing a brace. The next size skort and shirt cleverly concealed it.

I encouraged Lori to write her feelings and experiences down in a journal. “Maybe you can write a story about a girl with scoliosis, one day,” I told her. After a few entries, the journal dwindled down and her brace became a non-issue. Friends, relatives, even her orthopedist all commented that they couldn’t tell she was wearing a brace.

I knew that the dreaded brace was no longer Lori’s enemy when a few months later I asked Lori if she was ready to write her story. “I would Mom,” she answered, “but there’s really no conflict.”

That was from the mouth of a writer-in-training. Postscript: Lori successfully wore her brace for three years.

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