Do you set off metal detectors at the airport? That is the question that I get asked most often when someone learns about the metal rods in my back. The answer is no.

My spine has been curved since I was born. It wasn't until the strap of my OshKosh B'Gosh dress kept slipping off my left shoulder, though, that my parents learned I had scoliosis. In third grade, at nine years old, my spine was shaped like an "s" and curved more than sixty degrees. 

At Boston Children’s Hospital, two metal rods were fused to my spine to straighten the curve. One month later, I left wearing a back brace that, when spray-painted silver, would become the base of very good tin-man costume.

In 1996, then sixteen, my mom and I waited for the doctor to return with my x-rays during a routine check-up. It was always so cold in those rooms wearing the thin hospital gown so I kept my socks on to stay warm.

On this trip, the doctor took longer than usual because he was marking up the x-rays with a wax crayon to show that the lower lumbar had started to curve from the pressure of the rods above, requiring another surgery. 

So, in total, there are four metal rods solidly attached to my spine. In moments of vanity, I wonder how tall I might have been without the surgeries or the rods. More importantly, though, the experience has formed my character and is a useful metaphor.

The Delta's mission is to build a tribe of women who are well, strong in body and mind, and to change how women take care of themselves and one another. I hope to model the values of this organization, including a willingness to be vulnerable, turn inward and ask meaningful questions. Who are you? What do you want?

As someone who is always searching for deeper meaning and respects authenticity, I hope to be as transparent as this picture. I am a perfectionist, but I am not perfect. We all have our own stories, and it is those stories that lie under the surface that are the most interesting. 

While I can't change my past, I can choose how it will inform my future. I want to be happy and healthy and I want to sit in an audience with other women who want to do the same. I think there are enough of us to fill a room. 

Katie RobertsComment