1,000 words about my closet

Today is Friday, and that means I have the luxury of directing you elsewhere, which is good because otherwise I would have to tell you about the letter I got in the mail yesterday. That letter included a handy chart that had drawings and statistics and the body of it said:

Dear parents of Chickadee Lastname,

Your child participated in our school scoliosis screening program and ZOMG! How have you never noticed that her spine is bent? SHE FLUNKED! TOTAL FLUNKAGE! TAKE HER TO YOUR DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY!

And because we totally don’t trust you to have the crap scared out of you by this letter, you also need to have your doctor sign this form and send it back by this date, because we don’t want any crippled hunchbacks at our school.

Random Public Heath Nurse


Okay, maybe that’s not an exact transcript, but you get the gist. Thank goodness I’m not the sort of person who overreacts, right?

Anyway, nevermind that. I shall reserve my full freak-out for after the doctor checks her out. In the meantime, why not head on over to Five Full Plates to read my second installment in our Spring Cleaning series—it’s all about my closet. And the rest of my bedroom. Fascinating, I know. But much less anxiety-provoking than that stupid letter.


  1. StephLove

    Hey, Mir, when my sister was a kid they found a slight curvature in her spine in one of those screenings and she was fine.

  2. Carol

    Don’t get too upset about a scoliosis diagnosis, if that should be the case. I have an S curve in my spine, which wasn’t found until my physical before I went to college! That was almost 25 years ago. The only thing I’ve been told to do is exercise, and my mom still tells me to sit up straight. I’ve never had any adverse problems because of it. I do see a chiropractor, but would probably do that regardless of the curvature.

    You’re not a crappy parent.

  3. Megan

    Eh. I did with the flunkage on the bendy spine thing and I’m fiiiiine. Although I do still remember about two months of being made to show off said bendy spine to everyone my mum encountered which got tedious.

    Btw – spine? No longer bendy. Mine was due to one leg growing faster than the other and it only took a little time and some terribly unfashionable shoes to correct.

  4. Suz

    I got that letter for my older daughter when she was in 6th grade (2 years ago). We went to the doctor, who also thought she saw some curving. So we went to the x-ray people, and after looking at the x-ray, everyone said, “oh, she’s fine.” So, I’m sure Chickadee will be, too. (Even though she’s not my daughter…)

  5. Karen

    You have no idea how common the curvature is. Really. Breathe.

  6. laura F

    No freak out necessary. Probably nothing. I had scoliosis at that age. Dr told me to do 50 sit ups a day and come back in 6 months. I did the sit ups, like, twice. Six months later Dr said he could see I’d been doing the sit ups because my spine was all better. Uh huh.

  7. Margaret

    A huge percentage of scoliosis cases are ‘idiopathic’, which is the fancy-pants way for docs to say, “We don’t know WHY the hell this happened!” Also, many cases are minor and require little to no intervention. You are certainly *not* a bad parent!

    It’s likely that chickadee will never have any real issue with scoliosis. A lot of people have mild curvatures. I’d even venture to say that the scoliosis would have been ID’d sooner if it was an issue.

    I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. I *am* however, among the curvy-spined women of the world! My case, ID’d at age 7, was bad and surgery (at 13) was involved, but agreeing to have that surgery was the BEST thing my mother could have done for me–and consequently I have the FINEST posture of any 40 year old woman I have ever encountered! Statistically, though, surgical intervention is not usually indicated.

  8. christine

    My mom didn’t notice my scoliosis until the 7th grade, and only because she told me that my skirt was hanging funny on my hips. Whoops!

  9. beth s

    She’s probably fine. I remember getting that scary note in the mail when I was in about 5th grade. It even had a card in there to set up an appointment at the Shriner’s Hospitalif you coudln’t go to your own doctor. My parents completely ignored it and I never failed the test again. And we diid them at least twice a year all through elementary and jr high. I have even asked as an adult to have the Dr check and no one has ever niticed anything weird. I’m guessing the school sends the note to allot of people just to protect themselves.

  10. parodie

    I have slight scoliosis. Net result? Skirts hang oddly. That’s about it. There’s not much to be done unless there’s enough of a curve to justify more extensive measures (though perhaps medical science has changed in the last 15 or so years…). I would suggest that preemptive worry is perhaps not worth it. You can worry once you know for _sure_ that’s it’s serious! ;)

  11. radioactive tori

    I’ll think good thoughts for your daughter and just hope the school was as wrong as they were when they sent home the form saying my daughter was basically deaf. I needed to have the doctor sign off on that one too and he just laughed and said that they send home notes all the time that are wrong. My daughter’s hearing is totally fine and hopefully your daughter is just fine too.

  12. Randi

    When i was in school they said I had really high blood pressure – the doctor said the school nurse was crazy. It’s a nurse, not a doc – she’ll be good!

  13. klm

    My slight scoliosis was caught by the school’s routine check in grade 8. If it means anything about your parenting, it means that you’re not some weirdo who has her kids take off their shirts and bend over– as I recall, that’s how they check for it.

    My shoulders are slightly uneven, as are my hips. There was nothing for the doctors to do, since I’d already stopped growing and it wasn’t severe. I do sometimes think about what osteoporosis might do to me once I get a lot older, but I can’t say it’s impacted my life at all thus far.

  14. BethRD

    If this were something that the average person could just notice, they wouldn’t have to do official screenings for it at school! I don’t think even the best moms randomly x-ray their kids’ spines all that often.

    My daughter has a medical condition that makes scoliosis more likely, and I got myself convinced she had it about nine months ago (which would have been very serious because she’s very young, the prognosis is much poorer if it presents in young childhood). I dropped into full hypochondriac-by-proxy research mode, found the most reasonable treatment for her age group – which is years of plaster casting of the torso! and that’s the good option! – and had a plan all worked out when orthopedics finally saw her. After her x-ray the doctor walked in and put it up on the light box, and even I could tell her spine was perfectly straight. In retrospect, maybe the part where I investigated my legal rights if my daughter’s day care refused to admit her in a torso cast was a bit of a waste of time.

    So please. Wait until a real doctor actually looks at her and says that a) she has a curve and b) it’s a curve that is a problem. I would like to think *someone* got something out of those two weeks of full bore anxiety I invested in a non-existent problem.

  15. BethRD

    Sorry to follow up to myself, but I realized I’d left a detail out. I didn’t totally make the whole thing up on my own, when I first started to freak out I took my daughter to her regular doctor’s office and my friendly but dopey pediatrician agreed that she looked like she might have a curvature, and even ortho initially thought she might, which is why they were willing to X-ray her. So a quick exam by a medical person who thinks they sort of might see something still doesn’t mean there really is anything.

  16. meghann

    Add me to the slightly bendy spine club! The only way you can tell is I have a slight swayback, and if I’m laying down naked, one hip is slightly higher than the other. All it’s ever meant is that sometimes my back hurts a little if I’m on my feet for a really long time.

    Although if you want to freak Chickadee out, you could always show her Joan Cusack in “Sixteen Candles” and tell her that’s what she has. Mwahahahahahahaha.

  17. Tracy

    I’ve never heard of them testing for that at school. Wonder if they did back when I was a kid and just never knew it. I don’t recall that with either of my kids but maybe they passed the test and so I never knew about the Random School Nurse.

    I’m sure she’s gonna be fine and please don’t ever call yourself a bad parent. You are an awesome roll model for your children…your housekeeping..that’s another story. j/k

  18. Katie in MA

    Well, geez, Mir, way to pass on the freak out! Wait a minute – that IS what blogs are for. Hmmm… In that case, sit down, have some forbidden chocolate and tasty, tasty coffee. We’ll wake you from your sugar-coma when it’s over.

  19. Crisanne

    I failed the test in 8th grade as well. My ballet teacher was the person who was the most shocked as she’d known me all my childhood and had plenty of opportunities to see me all bended over in my leotard. I did have to wear a horrific brace at night for a year or so, but that’s a pretty out-dated treatment. I’ll save any other advice for if she indeed has scoliosis, unless you’d like to email me for any other details. No bad parenting on your part, Mir. How is her rash doing? Have you found an solutions for that?

  20. Busy Mom

    Another hunchback checking in. I’m fine as far as I know (shut up).

  21. Laura

    I got a similar letter, last week, from my son’s school saying they had done sight, blood pressure, and weight/height measurements….and that my son’s BMI percentage put him in the overweight category. I laughed out loud. He is in Kindergarten, about 44 inches tall and 48 pounds. NOT EVEN CLOSE to being overweight – his spine sticks out when he doesn’t have a shirt on and bends over slightly! Anyway, it was funny. I don’t blame the school — I blame the stupid BMI scale. I had heard that it was a completely inaccurate way to determine healthy weight and now I have seen proof.

  22. Pepper

    Add one more to the bent spin club, I have what they call trauma induced scoliois of the lower spine from a car accident, which is a long story but my life has not come to a stop because of it. Don’t panic, and Don’t call yourself a bad parent!

  23. E's Mommy

    I failed one of those screenings when I was in school. The school sent home a notice and my parents, who were doctors, laughed and threw it in the trash. I seem to be relatively normal, or at least my spine does. Hopefully the same will be true for Chickie.

  24. Jason's mom

    Scoliosis can be a serious issue. One of my son’s numerous health issues revolves is infantile ideopathic roto kypho scoliosis (Say that three times fast, I dare you!) Scoliosis does occur in women more than it does men. However, it is important to remember that no one’s back is truly straight. Most people have a curvature of less than 5% according to my son’s orthopod.

    That being said, what will happen once you make an appointment with an orthopedic clinic, is that they will x-ray Chickadee. They will determine what degree of curvature she has, and most likely will want to have her come back in 6 months or so to see if the curve is stable.

    If it is not progressing, then they will most likely give her exercises to do and tell her to come back every x amount of time to monitor it, and to come back if she feels back pain.

    If it progresses, she will most likely have to wear a back brace. Google TLSO and thoracolumbosacral orthosis and click on images to see what they look like. It’s worn under her street clothes and she won’t be able to bend so well because it goes down to the hips.

    Worst case scenario is back surgery. That is done in the most severe cases. You would have noticed long before now if she was that bad. Trust me on this. My son’s scoli curve was at 120 degrees, and his kyphosis hump was 45 degrees when he had his first back surgery.

    Feel free to email me if you have any questions. I can ask my son if he’d like to answer any questions your daughter has as well. He is 10 FWIW, and has somewhere between 15 and 20 surgeries under his belt.

  25. Happy Gramma

    Don’t wrry about the letter. iremember getting one when my oldest son was in school. It scared the daylights out of me. To make a long story short… he is a strong healthy 37 year old father of 3. He doesn’t have an ache or pain and rarely has to go to the doctor.
    I think the schools really overreact to these things!

  26. Half Assed Kitchen

    I have minor scoliosis, too. Didn’t figure that out until my 20s though. I think a lot of people do. But I really hope she checks out fine. Keep us posted.

  27. aem2

    What a great opportunity to read Deannie, by Judy Blume!

  28. Brigitte

    Hope she’s fine, and that it’s the same sort of deal so many commenters have gone through. But also, imagine how much taller she’d be and all the new clothes you’d have to buy if she stops hunching! :-o

  29. Tiffany

    Hey Mir, In junior high i had a slight curve that the nurse thought indicated scoliosis,turned out to be nothing. My oldest(10) was diagnosed at 4 with scoliosis and now she just got put into a boston brace. We are heading down the road of fusing or rods with her. She has an S curve with the top curve being 32 degrees….Id have to pull out her xray to see what her bottom curve is but its somewhere in the 20s.Emily’s curve even has her scar line running down it from her spinal cord detethering surgeries lol.

    The kids school did this testing last month and I exempted Emily out since she is already followed for it,no need to get in a bathing suit to check out what a real curve looks like :)

    Try not to freak out! Yoga and core strengthening exercises are fantastic for the spine and helping with scoliosis…Even if she does have this i would figure its going to be a small curve and nothing too major to worry about. Just work on posture posture posture :) my kid hates being told to sit up straight….pisses her off actually especially when she is sitting up straight and boy does it not look straight at all!

  30. Daisy

    Wow! I was going to reassure you with my story (scoliosis S curve noticed by a physical therapist when I was 48 years old!), but you’re getting some good reassuring stories.
    I’m bugged that the school sent you a letter instead of calling. You could have asked questions to find out if this is truly cause for concern. You know I hold school staff to a high standard of communication because — well, because I am school staff.

  31. Laura

    Skipping the tedious details. Full spinal fusion at 17. Skipping more details. Back in constant pain and told to suck it up and be grateful by Drs.
    Acupuncture works. I’ve backpacked around the world. If only my parents had known about “alternative” 2,000-year’s-experience medicine.
    Chickadee may hate needles, but Honestly, they don’t hurt. And there is always acupressure.

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