Each morning my attire is chosen, with painstaking deliberation, to cover my branding brace. If the corset is concealed, the illness is invisible, or so the theory goes. Yet, however ingenious the amalgamation of apparel, the disguise always fails and spine-suffering Sophie surfaces. It is the small transitional movements that betray me, revealing the difficulty I have manoeuvring my body. Levering myself into a sitting position causes eyes to swivel and stare, and arising is even worse, it provokes expressions of pity! For some mysterious reason, having a visible physical difficulty makes you public property. Strangers on the street will approach and ask personal, health-related questions.
“Ah, a back problem?” says a self-righteous unknown. I reply with a feeble mumble in the affirmative, whilst attempting to dampen my desire to absquatulate. Even at this early stage, I can prognosticate with surprising accuracy the continuation of the conversation. “Oh, I know what that feels like” they continue. Inside, a well-rehearsed response is about to erupt. How can this impertinent individual claim empathy with no knowledge of my spinal history or symptoms? I bottle up the vapours of anger and annoyance and listen, feigning interest, to their entire medical history. It is evident that their intent is to offer solace and provide hope. However, unfortunately these passersby vocalise my fears, they remind me of how far I still have to traverse on my road to recovery.