The Big Guy--The Training Begins  

Posted by Heidi in

When I was sixteen I dated a young man who suffered from congenital torticollis, also known as “wryneck”. In utero, the muscle on one side of the neck shortens while the other lengthens. If left untreated, the shortened muscle continues to get shorter and tighter, pulling the chin down towards the shoulder. There are now excellent treatments for this condition but at the time his doctors felt the best option was to remove the muscle entirely. Since this muscle attaches to the pectoral muscle in the chest, the removal of it left this young man with a dent all along the side of his neck down through his nipple.

Some of the young men I hung out with used to refer to this boyfriend as “half-neck”. Personally, I barely noticed the dent in his neck and I only saw him without a shirt once or twice when we went swimming. Though his deformed chest was a bit alarming, I was much more fascinated by his piercing blue eyes and his experiences living on his grandfather’s cattle ranch. I also remember him telling me this story: when his mother was expecting him, the spirit whispered the message that her child would be born with special challenges. She was grateful for that experience because of the strength it gave her when it came time to make hard decisions on his behalf.

I broke up with “half-neck” when I was seventeen but I never forgot his story.

All three of my children, non-coincidentally, were born with congenital torticollis.

This entry was posted on Saturday, March 14, 2009 at Saturday, March 14, 2009 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

34 wise, witty and wonderful comments

Holy moly! I certainly didn't see the end of this story coming. I really like how you wrote this post.

Oh, and mmmmm to piercing blue eyes.


March 14, 2009 at 10:41 PM

What an amazing coincidence!! Good thing for modern medicine.

March 14, 2009 at 10:44 PM

Whoa! That's crazy! Ain't it amazing how the universe prepares you for what lies ahead.

Or is this cattle rancher with the piercing blue eyes your milkman?

hee hee

I'm so happy I'm 2nd!

March 14, 2009 at 10:45 PM


March 14, 2009 at 10:46 PM

Is it your hubby then??

March 14, 2009 at 10:47 PM

No, not my hubby and not the milkman though my hubby was one of the guys who called him "half-neck" (kind of hoping he doesn't read this post . . . .)

March 14, 2009 at 11:15 PM

I imagine it was a little easier for you to accept your children's condition than for your husband, at least at the outset. It is funny how we can cease to notice such things. My husband has a fairly nasty gunshot wound/scar on his left forearm. A few years ago we were visiting my parents and a friend of theirs came over. She said to my husband, "What happened to your arm?" and I, looking right at it, said, "did something happen to your arm?"

March 15, 2009 at 12:38 AM

Now THAT is interesting. I like stories that come full circle.

March 15, 2009 at 6:00 AM

I didn't see that end coming, either! I have a friend whose baby had torticollis...I had no idea they had no treatments for it such a short time ago.

March 15, 2009 at 6:57 AM

That really is quite something Heidi. It is amazing how we can be prepared in ways we don't even realize at the time. I am so glad that you saw him for what he was and not his neck situation. That prepared you in even a better way I think.

HBO made there apology as they still said they are going forth with the ceremony.

March 15, 2009 at 7:25 AM

You had so many experiences prepping you for what was to come. Wow.

March 15, 2009 at 7:55 AM

The more I learn about you the more I love you.

Who could think something like that was a coincidence? I am astounded at the way God keeps all of the little details in order. Amazing.

The teen boys are, I'm sure, kind and normal men now. Some of the greatest boys in our ward were calling each other horrible names and locking each other in the closet during YM not very long ago. They've grown up, are on missions now, etc.

March 15, 2009 at 8:03 AM

wow...the inter-weaving of life. We can't even comprehend it all. I love how you introduced this.

Is there an end to the interesting things about you??? :)

March 15, 2009 at 9:20 AM

That is rather incredible!

March 15, 2009 at 11:30 AM

Pam--yes, you are right, it has always been easier for me. Kate--me too but this is just part three of a who knows how long story . . . . Lara--well, we're talking over forty years ago but I guess that was a short time ago in some terms . . Jan--good point! as for HBO--glad I don't get it. Phewy on them! Annette--yes, b/c the Lord loves my Big Guy something fierce! Jami--at least one of them was a counselor for a bishop in Michigan (we all grew up in California)--the bishop's daughter met my nephew at BYU and they got married. Now they have a daughter with microcephaly. It's all such a pattern as says Heather EO--me? Interesting? Not any more than anyone else, I don't think but thanks for being interested anyway. :) Heidi--I agree but at the time, it just seemed cruelly ironic. :)

March 15, 2009 at 12:30 PM


March 15, 2009 at 12:53 PM

We never know what challenges lay in store for us----I too believe that experience was a "preparation" for you in some way. I don't know anything about this condition, so may have to go into the internet and learn.

March 15, 2009 at 1:20 PM

Don't discount the fact that you're both interesting (as Heather said) and unique. Your heart is clearly a rare one, with which God entrusts a great deal. That's no little thing.
Just more reasons to respect and love you.

March 15, 2009 at 1:39 PM

Wow! That last line threw me definately! You are wonderful, and just like all of us, have your own special experiences that make you who you are! Thank you for sharing them, they build us all! :)

March 15, 2009 at 2:40 PM

Coincidence is right... but I think maybe preperation too. God works in mysterious ways.

In college i dated a boy who grew up on a cattle ranch and he had piercing blue eyes too.
Oh the memories. Thanks for the lovely reminder.

March 15, 2009 at 3:27 PM

Kim--yep, wow! Wendy--there's a link in the post. Laura--as if your isn't as rare! Melinda--yes, as you say, just like all of us. Sabrina--we have so darn much in common! We're like twins, only, I already have one. Hmmmm. . . .(did I tell you my mom is from Hopkins?)

March 15, 2009 at 8:15 PM

WOWzer I didn't see that coming either. hmmm... there are no accidents huh?

March 15, 2009 at 9:31 PM

oh and I'm glad you saw the award because things got a little dingy at the end of the week and I think I forgot to tell you!! duh

March 15, 2009 at 9:33 PM

It is amazing how life works out isn't it? You gotta love that. And I am loving this series, keep it up.

March 15, 2009 at 10:57 PM

How interesting and crazy. I've never even heard of that conditions, which makes the story all the more amazing.

March 16, 2009 at 12:14 AM

Im sure when you were writing this blog you weren't thinking that someone was praying for an answer and then had a light bulb moment from what you've written! Thanks!

March 16, 2009 at 12:55 AM

Two of my three had it, too. Thank goodness they don't remove muscles any more! Both of them are no longer affected by it.

March 16, 2009 at 7:02 AM

Fiona--no, I don't believe so and thanks again for the bloggy award!! Pam--thanks! I am having a good time writing it. Lisa--life is one amazing story, that's for sure! IWA--it is my privilege and a great joy--thanks for sharing that! Melissa--isn't it nice to live in a time when they know how to deal with things better? None of my kids had their muscles removed either, thank goodness!

March 16, 2009 at 10:14 AM

That is way too uncanny.

March 16, 2009 at 5:41 PM

Wow. It's quite clear that the Lord was preparing you for the challenges you and your family would face. I didn't see the end of that story coming! I really enjoy reading about how you were "trained". Thank you for sharing.

March 16, 2009 at 6:18 PM

I'm glad that there was better treatment for your kids. But clearly, you have the right attitude to deal with that anyway. You see the world more honestly than most people. It's really refreshing.

March 16, 2009 at 6:29 PM

Barb--yeah, but at the time, I just saw it as ironic. Time gives one perspective. Rebecca--thanks---I am having fun writing about it! Heatherlyn--thank you! That means a lot to me!

March 16, 2009 at 6:31 PM

I'm all about piercing blue eyes, and I'm loving this series.

I loved the Friday the 13th post.

And I'm glad to hear your hubby didn't get laid off, though I'm sorry for every one else. It affects us all.

March 18, 2009 at 8:33 AM

This is a breathtaking non-coincidence! Wow.

June 1, 2009 at 9:35 PM

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