Veronika Rogozhina
25 y.o, stage 4 scoliosis

“I had progressive scoliosis. It pushed the shoulder blade out of its proper place. One vertebra got under the shoulder blade, and the rib cage became deformed. If I had not undergone surgery, the spine would have continued to twist, the nerves would have been compressed, and my legs would have failed.


“At the age of 14, I was admitted to the Ilizarov Scientific Center for Restorative Traumatology and Orthopaedics, where I spent six months and underwent four spine surgeries. My height had been 142 cm and became 155 after the surgery. The disease devoured all of my height. If it weren’t for scoliosis, now I would be about 170 cm tall.


“The recovery period after the surgery lasted for five years. The first year is always the most difficult one. You are allowed either to lie or to stand (only if wearing a brace). Sitting is prohibited, and you are not allowed to lift anything heavier than a spoon.


“When I checked out of the hospital, I weighed only 24 kg. Even a few minutes of walking caused me excruciating pain, as if millions of needles were stuck into my legs (the blood vessels were unable to do their job properly). I felt nauseated, my vision was blurred, and I constantly fainted.


“Although I was suffering greatly, I had the most important thing one can have: a great zest for life. I saw such terrible cases at the hospital that it made me realize how incredibly lucky I was.


“We are used to blaming the universe or the circumstances for our troubles. ‘Why me?’, ‘What have I done to deserve this?’ I also went through all of this. People would advise my parents to put me into residential care. I was told that I would never succeed and no one would ever love me. Besides, I was pitied a lot, and this made me really angry.


“The worst mistake one can make is to believe such people and to adopt their destructive mindset.

“It takes a lot of willpower and patience to overcome all of this. Yes, it was hard. There was a lot of tears and pain. The most important thing is not to work yourself up or think yourself into depression. We don’t choose the body we are born with.

People may say whatever they like. But how can anyone know anything about you or your future if you don’t know it yourself?
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We all have complexes. This is normal. I, for one, have difficulty picking out clothes. An open back doesn’t look appealing in my case. Of course it’s frustrating. For a time I even felt too embarrassed to go shopping. But beauty is a subjective thing. Everybody has their own definition of beauty. For me, appearance is something secondary. What really matters is the person’s interior.


“The challenges I faced have taught me to appreciate whatever I have. Remembering that my family and I are alive is now enough to make me happy.


“We live under the illusion that nothing bad will ever happen to us. Then some accident happens and you realize, my God, how happy I used to be! I was able to sleep on my back, to ride a bike, to run and walk as much as I pleased… to live life to the fullest!


“Some people are so fixated on their problems that they refuse to see the opportunities they have.

If you have legs, you can stand up and do something—right now.”