(Oil Painting, 30″ x 40″)
“Cyborg” is to me a highly personal and symbolic piece. I underwent a major back surgery to correct my scoliosis last summer, and my X-rays speak for themselves of the years I spent fighting my scoliosis and the peace I have now that the fight is over. Here, I present a self-portrait based on fragmented pieces of my back X-rays from before the surgery.
Before my surgery, my back was severely S-shaped. From second grade up until freshman year of high school, I saw special doctors every six months. I was continuously being shown my X-rays – always being reminded of my inescapable abnormality. I would then go home, and night after night after night, I would lock myself in a back brace for sixteen hours, hoping to avoid the necessity of surgery. Now that feeling took my breath away – as any proper plastic corset ought to!
This continued for eight years, until at last it seemed the scoliosis had begun to correct itself. I’d done it! I’d escaped the surgery!
Three years later, my scoliosis had returned with a vengeance. I had to have the surgery.
During the time right before the procedure, I couldn’t decide what to fear most. What would be worse – the loss of flexibility? Leaving behind all my athleticism for the six months of recovery? Or more simply, the pain? Even up until the point when I was inhaling the anesthesia on the operating table, I hadn’t made up my mind. I just let myself slip into the darkness to awake a new person – it was all I could do.
When I woke up after the surgery, all I saw was yellow light. All I felt was relief. All I could do was smile. When I couldn’t walk, I stood; when I couldn’t stand, I sang. The pain wouldn’t go away anytime soon – it still lingers even today. But I have walked the length of a very long corridor and finally turned a corner. Few feelings could match this one.
This piece marks the conclusion of the worst of my fight with scoliosis; however, I still have a long road to travel. I am only just now starting to return to my old life, slowly putting lacing up my running sneakers and putting on my Taekwondo uniform once more. A movie would end here, but my life is no cinema! I intend to keep on fighting the battles I need to fight and enjoying life to the fullest every day.