Estimated reading time: 7.5 minutes
From the moment we’re born we rely on communication to connect with people. Body language, facial expressions, hand signs, emotions and words. Whichever means you use, they’re all important for establishing connections and being understood.
After years of living with scoliosis, a condition involving the curvature of the spine, I’ve learnt the essence of communication and connections from a young age.
It’s one of the reasons why I became a writer – that love for linguistics and storytelling.
But scoliosis comes with its own set of challenges. Challenges which also propelled me to follow my dream of becoming a small business owner.
The lessons living with scoliosis has taught me are ones anyone can use. Fundamental pieces of the puzzle to forge long-lasting connections.
You can apply the value of communication to many different circumstances.
Businesses rely on good communication to connect with their audiences. Creatives articulate through music and art, plants talk to each other using the Internet of fungi, and the human body has two types of communication systems essential to its function.
It’s the glue that holds any relationship together; defining connections and our ability to relate.
But what happens when there’s a disruption in the interchange of information?
Scoliosis is a prime example of this. A communication breakdown inside the human body.
Labelled the ‘invisible disability’ (that’s not so invisible for some), it results from a miscommunication between the brain and the body’s muscles and organs.
While I believe in educating about the condition all year round, June is Scoliosis Awareness Month. So what better time to raise awareness of scoliosis and the importance of communication and connections?
For a long time scoliosis has been viewed as a curvature of the spine, but it’s much more extensive.
The curvature is the most obvious and primary symptom, but not the whole condition. Scoliosis comes with nervous system abnormalities and abnormal bone and muscle growth that affect the brain and central nervous system.
At the age of 6, I was diagnosed with one of the worst cases of idiopathic scoliosis, meaning the condition has no identifiable causes. Even after having spinal implants (Harrington rods), both curves are over 45°.
While my life has been filled with countless orthopedic and neurologist appointments, and major surgeries including learning how to walk again, there’s no cure for it. It’s a balance of managing, maintaining, understanding and adapting, as best as one can.
Severe scoliosis impacts:
Here’s what you can learn about communication and connections from scoliosis.
Communication and connections are interconnected.
When there’s a functional alignment between the two, communication is strong.
It’s much like the human body where the spinal cord works in tandem with the brain. Picture your spine as an old-school phone operator that facilitates communication to various parts of your body. The spine relays messages from your brain and connects with nerves, arranged like wires in a phone cable.
The same way your body relies on these connections to communicate is how you depend on an Internet connection to send and receive messages.
Sometimes there are faults.
Comparable to the famous tango, two must be in sync to work efficiently. This alliance is essential. Like a dance involving two people, marriage, a business partnership or the Chinese philosophy of Yin and Yang.
Believe it or not, spinal alignment isn’t voluntarily controlled. It’s an automatic neurological orientation to gravity people take for granted. Behind the scenes, the brain is busy storing neurotransmitter patterns to develop this postural memory.
Well, unless your brain is creating faulty variant patterns like mine.
There’s a common misconception that scoliosis contributes to weak muscles. However, they’re far from fragile. They’re just not getting the right messages.
Once a connection is established, communication becomes almost effortless.
People are bombarded by all kinds of communication. Every day, the average person consumes around 34 gigabytes of information. That’s an incredible amount for the brain to process.
It’s no wonder it acts as a filter to tune out excess noise. Your brain is busy focusing on what matters – information you connect with.
Unless a viable connection is created, whatever message you or someone else is trying to relay can’t penetrate through.
Remember, your heart doesn’t beat unless your brain tells it to. Through nerve connections in your spinal cord, neurons tell the rest of your body what to do. If the spine is significantly distorted, from scoliosis or a similar condition, it impairs the flow of information and disrupts the nervous system activity in problematic ways.
When these connections aren’t aligned, communication fails.
Whether you apply disconnection to the human body or everyday information and networks, you can expect to face obstacles. Important messages lost in translation.
Connections need to be nurtured to become and stay successful.
Engaged nerve connections send the right messages to your body the same way engaged customers drive business.
But without regular maintenance, connections can fall apart.
The sooner you identify and fix communication breakdowns, the sooner you create sustainable connections with your audience and those around you.
Scoliosis Awareness Month educates about the importance of early detection. It’s designed to encourage people to learn the initial warning signs and check their children as soon as possible.
Although scoliosis is an incurable progressive disability, leaving it untreated only makes things worse. Treatment depends on the severity of the cobb angle, physical maturity and many other factors.
As difficult as my journey is with scoliosis, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without its lessons, setbacks and silver linings.
Living with any chronic illness or disability is always going to be painful and challenging. But thanks to a close support team, you realise just how valuable the right connections are to someone navigating a scoliosis diagnosis.
Three things you can do this month to spread awareness of scoliosis:
Need help connecting with your audience?