Hi. My name is Mazzy Lane Sass and I am nine years old. My name may sound familiar because I am named after the band Mazzy Star. If you haven’t heard of Mazzy Star I am with you. I didn’t know them either. Ok back to me. I am the oldest of four children in my family. My sister Micah is almost seven, my brother Xander is five, and my baby sister Vienna just turned two. It’s a wild and crazy house, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I always have someone to play with. There is something else that is unique about me that you should know about. When I was seven years old I was diagnosed with juvenile scoliosis (a crooked spine). The doctors told me that I had to wear a brace 18 hours a day. A scoliosis brace is a hard plastic corset with two Velcro straps in front. It covers my whole torso up to my armpit and goes down over my right hip. It’s a real bummer.
So, do you want to know how wearing a brace influences my life? Well, I’ll tell you. Wearing a brace 18 hours a day means I have to wear it to school and to sleep. That means when I go to school I have to make sure I keep my back straight or else my brace will stick out of my pants and it will look like I have a book in my pants. Ok, now sleeping is a whole different story. It’s really uncomfortable to wear a brace while you sleep. Sometime I have mental breakdowns, but most of the time I’m pretty cool.
Every three months I go into New York City to Columbia University Hospital for X-rays. The last visit was for “out of brace x-rays.” That means I don’t have to wear my brace for a whole 24 hours the day before the x-ray. YAY! I had an eight degree improvement my last visit. My curve went from 28 degrees to 20 degrees. From everyone’s reaction I could tell it was really good news. My mom jumped out of her seat and gave me a big hug. The doctors explained how wearing a brace and working hard at physical therapy really paid off.
I have to admit that wearing my brace also has some perks. For example, when we left the hospital my mom brought me to a gift shop and bought me the biggest stuffed animal there! I named him Mocha Choca Latte. I sleep with him almost every night now! Once in awhile I also get rewarded by going to the candy store and when I freak out at night I get to sleep with y mom. My sister Micah gets jealous that I get to sleep with my mom so sometimes she puts my old brace on to see if my mom will sleep with her too. It never works. Wearing a brace has helped me become stronger, braver and more appreciative of good health. It’s also made me realize I have really great, supportive friends. They’ve yelled at my brace, huddled around me when I had to take it off in public, and helped me hide it under coats and clothing.
Let me tell you something. Over the past two years, I have learned to flaunt my brace. When I want to wear a shirt that I really like with low sides, or shortcut in the back or front, I still choose to wear it. If someone notices my brace I smile and tell them its my body armor. It doesn’t really bother me anymore if someone notices that I wear a brace. When my friends sleep over I don’t put a shirt on over my brace. Instead, I wear a tank top with my brace and nobody cares.
Having a brace because of my scoliosis is part of my life and I have learned not to care what other think. While I’m still counting the days until I am done wearing it, in the meantime I’ll keep flaunting my body armor and just being myself.