Cripple Girl

ANNE

Mother’s Day has come and gone.  Vince had told me he wouldn’t be able to make any phone calls from boot camp for two months.  That’s standard procedure.  Why?  Who knows.  Maybe they want them focused on the program and not distracted by family and friends who could be unhealthy influences?

Vince sent me a postcard telling me he’d be able to call me on May 10, and to have my phone switched on and close by because he would call as early as possible and he was really looking forward to talking to me.  May 10 happened to be Mothers’ Day.  It was clear he had no idea it was Mothers’ Day.  After all, they have no television, no radio, no internet, no newspapers.  One of his big requests recently was for me to send him the weather forecast for the week so he could sort of know if he’d be running outside or not.

I thought it was a nice coincidence that the first day he could call me would also happen to be Mothers’ Day.

But Mothers’ Day came and went and he didn’t call.  But…May 12 would be exactly two months since he entered boot camp, so maybe he would call me that day…but no.  Then I got a postcard from him saying his first phone call “should be” May 17.  I guess it’s SNAFU at the DOC.  At least I am not going straight to the worst-case-scenario assumption, like I did for years: He’s dead!  They beat him to death and are covering it up!  They’re probably burying his body in the woods right now!”  And so on.

His postcard went on to say, “I can’t believe how much progress I have made.  I’ve lost 25 pounds and I’m now at 11.2% body fat.  Physical training, as it turns out, is beneficial in so many ways.  It’s the first thing we do every morning and it really sets the tone for the day.”

Well duh.  I’ve been an exerciser most of my life, and I can’t imagine life without it.  This is, I think, thanks to being diagnosed with scoliosis and having to wear a full body brace, 23 hours a day, for several years starting at age 12 or 13.

During the 24th hour, I could take a bath (not a shower) and do my physical therapy.  The doctors and my mother warn me that if I didn’t do my PT I might have to have surgery to implant a metal rod alongside my spine.  In retrospect I think surgery would have been easier, socially, than wearing a brace.  It’s no fun being called “cripple girl.”

Scoliosis_Fig07_en brace

But guess what?  Doing PT every day year after year created the habit of exercise.  So that brace was good for something, because now the medical profession knows that bracing doesn’t have any lasting straightening effect on scoliosis.

When I turned 16 I told the doctors at Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children to go fuck themselves (or at least I did in my head).  I wanted a boyfriend.  I found one.  I became a mother.

Vince moans and groans about the enforced exercise, but maybe the theory is that it’ll become a habit.  A good one, for once.

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