Perception is Reality

It’s ironic.

When I was a kid pretending to be an old person I’d bend over, put my hand on my back, and complain, “Oh my aching back.”

Thirty-seven years ago, when I was sixteen-years-old, I was diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis and underwent surgery to insert a Harrington rod in my back to prevent the curvature of my spine from worsening and to correct it as much as possibly.

I was delighted with the outcome of the surgery. My back was straightened to the point that I allowed myself to stop hiding underneath over sized clothes. I had a body I could learn to love. Yes, I can still be classified as a “twisted sisters” but for the past thirty-seven years this ol’ back of mine has held up pretty well and I’ve  not had a moment of pain–well other than ordinary aches and pains from overuse now and then.

Until now.

For the past six weeks or so I’ve been struggling. Pain has awakened me when I turn over at night. Mornings have been difficult due to pain and reduced mobility first thing in the morning. I’ve been conscious of my back almost every waking moment.

Being the curious sort of woman I am I decided to research the long-term prognosis for someone with scoliosis who had Harrington rod surgery many years ago. (The surgery is rarely performed anymore.) I was surprised to find thirty-seven years free from pain is not the norm and my doctor confirmed that when I saw him yesterday.

I don’t know what the long-term prognosis will be. I’m hoping that the current course of treatment we’re trying will put me back in the land of being free from pain. But even if I’m faced with dealing with ongoing chronic pain in my back I’ll still consider myself blessed. Thirty-seven years being free from pain is a gift I’ve been given.

The longer I live, the more convinced I am that perception is reality and we have the ability, to a large extent, to influence our experience of life by the choices we make and the attitudes we carry.

What do you think? Can an attitude of gratitude and looking for the silver lining change our lives?

(By the way, you can learn more about scoliosis at the National Scoliosis Foundation.)


I’m a writer, reader, and creative. I thought by now I’d have things figured out, but I keep coming up with more questions. I think that’s okay. I’m here most mornings pondering ordinary things and the thin places where faith intersects.
  1. Linda, I’m fully convinced an attitute of gratitude makes a huge difference! Yours will no doubt help carry you through this challenge also. Best wishes as you face this new chapter in your health.

    1. I agree wholeheartedly, Denise!

  2. I agree. If we focus on our pain it becomes worse. However it takes a lot of fortitude to wake up every mooring facing a day of chronic pain. I suspect you might learn techniques to help you manage better.

    I wish you the best.

  3. I just finished reading a book called “Love Without Conditions” by Paul Ferrini. He suggested two questions to ask oneself about what happens in our lives:
    1. How does this situation help me learn to love more fully?
    2. What does it ask me to give that I am still withholding?
    Great questions to help keep us focused!
    My best,

    1. Sounds like a good book, Gayle. Thank you for pointing it out.

  4. Dear Linda, yes, I truly believe that if we look for good we will find it, as my mother said. Then she continued with “And if we look for bad we will truly find that also.” We can choose how we will respond to life. For me, responding with gratitude (although I haven’t always done that) means that I see that good my mom taught me to seek. Peace.

  5. Linda, I’ve spent 54 years with idiopathic scoliosis but not to the extent that I was treated with a Harrington rod insertion. Instead, I’ve undergone two fusions in the last nine years — the second in December 2011. Of course, by now, procedures have taken markedly improved, and this second time I didn’t receive any titanium plates or screws but am “holding myself together!”

    With the first surgery, I received almost a decade of relief and couldn’t help but share my good success, even though not 100%, with others. I firmly believe that attitude of gratitude made it possible for me to ignore the residual pain. And now, I’m happy to say, I am 100% pain-free! My thinking now is that this second surgery and it’s miraculous result are the product of my attitude.

    Praying that your current treatment will benefit you and keep you and your back healthy for many years to come.


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