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Meet the author:
Laci Felker
Laci Felker.png

This is a powerful, very personal story. Could you tell us about your motivation for writing it and what it was like to write through your personal experience?

I’m hoping that talking about it will lead to more awareness for situations like mine. Growing up, I was faced with a lot of doubt and snide comments when it came to talking about my back and hip pain. Even before I was diagnosed with scoliosis I would have trouble walking long distances or lifting heavy things, and I distinctly remember the muscle spasms I would have in my back when I was eight. I’ve always been open to talking about my experience, whether or not people want to believe the issues I’ve faced and pain I’ve dealt with.

As for writing about it, I think it’s been such a constant thing in my life for so long that it’s just a matter of fact. My spine is twisted and curved and there’s nothing I can do about it outside of take care of myself. Now, if my hip hurts I adjust the way I walk (usually it involves a bit of a limp) and I keep going. I’ve never had a chance to share this experience in writing before though, so I appreciate Otherwise giving me a place to be honest! 

 

Your relationship with your mother figures prominently in this piece. Could you comment on how you sought to capture this relationship and include your mom as a central character in the narrative?

It was easy because my mom really is a central piece to this. For my entire life it was mostly just me and my mom. She stood by me when others doubted, and she always fought for me to get the help I needed. Like the majority of parents, my mom loves me fiercely, and I believe there are very few things I could talk about that wouldn’t have her positioned right beside me throughout my life.

 

You write with candour about how you’ve experienced pain. What challenges/ obstacles did you face in capturing the visceral elements of pain in your story?

I will admit that it was difficult going back into the mindset I had when I was sixteen. Then, I didn’t have many answers outside of the fact that I had scoliosis and it took me a bit to remember how helpless I felt. I couldn’t even walk down the stairs without falling, and I remember my mom bringing me my food to eat while I sat there waiting for the pain to go away. It’s honestly a little hard to read what I’ve written, but it’s helped me come to terms with a few things. So, for that I’m grateful. I also had to remember that the doctor who helped me (who knew me since before I was born) passed away a few years ago. But I owe a lot to Dr Speeg and just how much he advocated for me.

What or who lies outside of the boundaries of this piece? Were there characters or aspects of your experience you chose to leave out in the retelling?

Some of my friends aren’t mentioned, but they were my rock when going back to school and having a mountain of work to get through. Collin, Charlotte, and Alyssa being the big three willing to help me and dealing with some of the frustration with me.

What do you hope readers will take from your story and do you think there are ways in which it speaks to the possibility of an Otherwise?

I hope that, in the end, readers will have a better understanding of the fact that a person can have physical issues and pain that isn’t visibly present, and perhaps be a little more kind when someone tries to explain that to them. For me, it was hard when I would try and explain that I was in pain as a kid and be met with a gym teacher who forcibly pushed on my back to make me touch my toes, or a chiropractor who said he could “straighten my spine”, but it left me in tears and in pain for days.

As for it speaking to the possibility of an “Otherwise”, I will say that this story brings readers into what my life was like at sixteen. It gives them a glimpse into what life was like for me as a teenager, and paints a picture of how I perceive the past and what it was like to experience something that isn’t just unique to myself. Scoliosis is very common, with more than three million cases per year in the United States alone, and I believe this story shows that just because you can’t see what someone else, other than you, is going through, doesn’t mean it’s not real or it isn’t happening.

 

Laci Felker is originally from Louisiana in the United States, but currently resides in Florida. In her spare time she reads, tries to write, and binges all of the TV shows she’s been putting off. You can find her and her other works at www.lacifelker.com.

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Read Laci Felker's story It's such a pain (literally)

in the Bodies issue

This interview was conducted by Otherwise creative non-fiction and memoir editor Laura Moran

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