Disabled Chronicles, No. 589
“They looks like railroad tracks in there!”
The heavily accented Hispanic X-ray tech expressed this with a mixture of shock and something that echoed the sentiments of pobrecita.
“I know right?!” I answered back with a half smirk on my lips and equal sentiments of How Cool and How Utterly Badass Is That?
I don’t think he was ready for my response, because his bushy eyebrows shot up, then crunched down as he adjusted my arms and ensured that my IV filled with nuclear medicine was not too disturbed as he made sure he was able to get a clear shot of my mid-section.
Of course he was referring to my hardware: these two pencil-thick metal rods, on either side of my spinal column, held together at measured intervals with smaller cross bars. They indeed look like train tracks. This internal scaffolding was erected when I turned 12. Spanning from almost the top of my back down to the very bottom. It stands out stark white against the black of X-rays, this undeniable beacon signaling that the ravages of disease are being corrected here.
I am always in awe when I see it, this old-new part of me that I was not born with but that since its installation, has given me new life. I marvel how my shadowy bones look next to the metal pieces, how symbiotic it all is together. How I Am this mixture of bone and blood and metal and muscle and woman.
Where this X-ray tech may feel pity for what I had to endure when those rods were put in (or maybe what he assumes my life to be because of them), I can only shake my head and be thankful.
These rods kept me from a life of ventilators breathing for me and instead gave me a life of being able to use my full outside voice inside, much to the chagrin of Nephew. These rods took away a life of being bedridden and instead set me loose in the world. These train tracks in my back allowed me to work for ten and a half years, often 12 hours a day in the beginning, to take care of our family after our Mom died. This internal scaffolding gifted me the opportunity to travel the high seas and the friendly skies. This hardware lets me go out into the sun on my own, gave/gives me the chance to know love (and to find it again) and allows me to greet each new day, even when I can’t find a single good reason to.
The scar that buries these train tracks is not one I am ashamed of or pity because it has been the coolest gift I have ever been given. And even when the weather gets cool and my rods remind me that they are there, or I turn wrong and the tension of them stops me mid motion, I still take a moment and am grateful. Without them, I would not have the full chance of being Me. And I will always be thankful for that.