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Thread: The Rude Question

  1. #1
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    Apr 2007
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    The Rude Question

    How do you deal with rude questions about your scoliosis? I had a complete stranger come up to me in a spinning class and ask "Excuse me, but what's wrong with your back?" I'd never seen the woman before, and since she was new to the gym and the spinning class I doubt she'd seen me. I mumbled some polite reply about scoliosis and left it at that, but I was bothered by it for the rest of the day. I realize that when I am dressed for exercising or cycling the curve is noticeable, but I never thought my six per cent was so noteworthy that a stranger would approach me about it.

  2. #2
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    A look of surprise followed by a moment of heavy silence usually does the trick

    I once had someone say to me in a shoe store: "My God, you're short!"
    I was so shocked I actually burst out laughing.
    Chris
    A/P fusion on June 19, 2007 at age 52; T10-L5
    Pre-op thoracolumbar curve: 70 degrees
    Post-op curve: 12 degrees
    Dr. Boachie-adjei, HSS, New York

  3. #3
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    The Historian,

    It is rude, but what an oportunity to educate someone about scoli. Someone in her family may have it and not know what is wrong.
    SandyC
    SandyC

  4. #4
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    Jun 2006
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    Euharlee, Georgia
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    M daughter has run into this problem at dance. She tells the people that they are hurting Sir Francis' feelings (her name for her donor bone). That usually opens the door to explain about scoliosis and how it is not contagious, but they could develop it. She went to a new family doctor who had never meet a scoliosis patient. the nurse parct. was very interested and my daughter let her touch her back. She tought it was neat to be able to feel the top of her rod.
    T12- L5 fusion 1975 - Rochester, NY
    2002 removal of bottom of rod and extra fusion
    3/1/11 C5-C6 disc replacement
    Daughter - T7 - L3 fusion 2004

  5. #5
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    When I was 21 and a young nurse--I had an old form of scoliosis surgery 7 years before that--which gave a modest correction but with a large residual rib hump--, a patient asked me what was wrong with my back and couldn't it be fixed? I did explain the situation.

    Another time my best friend said my back didn't seem to bother me but it would bother her if she had it. I told her the truth: it did bother me and nothing more could be done at the time--in the 1960s.

    My heart doctor showed me HIS scoliosis after seeing mine!
    Original scoliosis surgery 1956 T-4 to L-2 ~100 degree thoracic (triple)curves at age 14. NO hardware-lost correction.
    Anterior/posterior revision T-4 to Sacrum in 2002, age 60, by Dr. Boachie-Adjei @Hospital for Special Surgery, NY = 50% correction

  6. #6
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    Historian, I'm sorry something a stranger asked upset your day.

    I tend to agree with some of the other responses that *maybe* she had seen the condition before - and just botched the delivery of the query in a major way.

    Perhaps she was just curious for other (nosy) reasons (which I just find morbid).

    I don't know what has happened to manners in our society. My Momma would've slapped me silly (and my kids were raised under the same rule) for being so tactless after about age TWO.

    Honestly, I'd like to believe some people aren't just a**hats, but the truth is they are.

    Have a sensational, SO over the top it's ridiculous story ready next time . Something like:

    "On my yearly pilgramage to the top of Everest last year, would you believe I tripped 1000 feet from the bottom on my shoe strings??" ...

    or ...

    "It's such a long story, but you should've seen what I did to the grizzly!"

    and the always effective direct turnabout approach ...

    "I'm not entirely comfortable answering such a personal question from a total stranger. I'm interested why you asked.".

    Deliver the line with a serene smile.

    The last option at least gives her a chance to elaborate if she DID have a personal reason to ask (and was merely having a lapse of brain/speech connectivity); if not, it's guaranteed to make HER feel small for asking.

    Best regards,
    Pam
    Fusion is NOT the end of the world.
    AIDS Walk Houston 2008 5K @ 33 days post op!


    41, dx'd JIS & Boston braced @ 10
    Pre-op ±53°, Post-op < 20°
    Fused 2/5/08, T4-L1 ... Darrell S. Hanson, Houston


    VIEW MY X-RAYS
    EMAIL ME

  7. #7
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    Hi...

    To be honest, I'd much rather have someone ask about my back than to look at me and be repulsed. I don't think a person would ask if they didn't want to get to know you. I do, however, understand, that many people are just more private than others.

    Regards,
    Linda

  8. #8
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    Oct 2005
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    I’m just dumbfounded that anyone would even notice a 6° curvature in someone’s spine. I’ve had scoliosis since adolescence and to this day no one has ever asked me what’s wrong with my back. My own family did not know I had this condition until a couple of years ago when I came out of the closet because of the problems I began to experience.

    Chris

  9. #9
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    Chris, all curves are different. No one noticed my 53° right thoracic - even in a bathing suit (unless they knew what to look for ... rib hump, dropped shoulder, etc.) because I compensated so well.

    I even managed to hide the rib hump by holding my shoulder back and bending from the waist when possible.
    Fusion is NOT the end of the world.
    AIDS Walk Houston 2008 5K @ 33 days post op!


    41, dx'd JIS & Boston braced @ 10
    Pre-op ±53°, Post-op < 20°
    Fused 2/5/08, T4-L1 ... Darrell S. Hanson, Houston


    VIEW MY X-RAYS
    EMAIL ME

  10. #10
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    Wow. I misread it as 60 degrees. I agree that a 6 degree should not be noticeable by anyone, as it's actually considered normal. Historian, if you've been told you have a 6 degree curve, and someone could actually tell, I'd see another doctor.

    --Linda

  11. #11
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    Whoops - I read it as 60° too! I'm with Linda ... 6° should *definitely* not show ...

    Regards,
    Pam
    Fusion is NOT the end of the world.
    AIDS Walk Houston 2008 5K @ 33 days post op!


    41, dx'd JIS & Boston braced @ 10
    Pre-op ±53°, Post-op < 20°
    Fused 2/5/08, T4-L1 ... Darrell S. Hanson, Houston


    VIEW MY X-RAYS
    EMAIL ME

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    14
    Quote Originally Posted by LindaRacine
    Wow. I misread it as 60 degrees. I agree that a 6 degree should not be noticeable by anyone, as it's actually considered normal. Historian, if you've been told you have a 6 degree curve, and someone could actually tell, I'd see another doctor.

    --Linda
    Well, I'm told it's a six percent curve, classified as "mild". Here's what I look like after riding 36 miles.

    Bike Forums Post about falling off spin bike
    Cycling clothing is wonderful for riding, but it makes me look very crooked. But even in street clothes I look a little 'odd', as I've been informed.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Historian
    Well, I'm told it's a six percent curve, classified as "mild". Here's what I look like after riding 36 miles.
    Historian, as I mentioned before, some people (for many reasons) are able to disguise high degree curves quite effectively, and lower degree curves on some are hard to miss.

    Your last post confuses me: I've lived with AIS for almost 30 years, and never once have I heard a curve measured by percentile (I suspect, most here will agree ... hence most have a C, T or L curve of n° listed in their signature lines).

    Who, may I ask, told you this? Although I've never heard of this methodology *either*, perhaps they placed you in a percentile of scoliosis patients: This, however, would assume they have access to the data of ALL scoli patients, and they couldn't calculate a percentile without a degreed measurement of YOUR curve.

    Please elaborate if I've missed something ... I'm quite puzzled. Have you considered a 2nd opinion?

    Regards,
    Pam
    Fusion is NOT the end of the world.
    AIDS Walk Houston 2008 5K @ 33 days post op!


    41, dx'd JIS & Boston braced @ 10
    Pre-op ±53°, Post-op < 20°
    Fused 2/5/08, T4-L1 ... Darrell S. Hanson, Houston


    VIEW MY X-RAYS
    EMAIL ME

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    14
    Hmm, I'm not sure how to answer these questions. Both doctors I've seen, the physical therapists, and a chiro all agree I have scoliosis, and my elevated right shoulder is of the same opinion. Curves under 20 percent from norm are considered mild, and I've seen percentages used as I have by others with scoliosis. The only reasons I'm here are A.) I have the condition, B) I want to figure out how to manage it better. It's mild, but it gives me back pain, and, as I pointed out in my initial post, I draw comment from the occasional stranger.

    As for why I don't list medical details in my signature line, I decided shortly after diagnosis that I wasn't my scoliosis. My signature line is for my my signature, AKA my name. Perhaps I've come to the wrong place.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    388
    Historian, I've been told that curves of 20 degrees or less are considered mild which is the same number you were told...this makes me think maybe when they told you that you have a 6% curve they meant to say a 6 degree curve? That would make sense.
    daughter, 12, diagnosed 8/07 with 19T/13L
    -Braced in spinecor 10/07 - 8/12 with excellent in brace correction and stable/slightly decreased out of brace curves.
    -Introduced Providence brace as adjunct at night in 11/2011 in anticipation of growth spurt. Curves still stable.
    -Currently in Boston Brace. Growth spurt is here and curves (and rotation) have increased to 23T/17L

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