How did I get it? Why did I get it? How can I get rid of it? These were all questions I asked when the doctor told me I had scoliosis. I was freaked out and I couldn't find good information about what it was, or about the brace I was soon going to be wearing. So, I thought I'd share my scoliosis story, with pictures, and include links that taught me what I needed to know.
Scoliosis is a curving of the spine. It's effects can range from being virtually unnoticeable to crippling and life threatening. My scoli is noticeable, but I wouldn't say it was really serious. Mostly, it's inconvenient. Still, I have to manage it by wearing a body brace 23 hours a day, except when I shower and exercise. I won't try to fool you, I don't like wearing the brace.
It's cumbersome, confining, and I can't easily bend over to even pick up a dropped pencil. For the most part, it doesn't hurt me physically. Sometimes, however, it hurts me emotionally, or psychologically. What I mean by that is that some days I just don't feel like I can put on a happy face about scoliosis. I want to go to the movies wearing my favorite outfits, but with the brace, my clothes fit differently. That makes me feel differently. That's what I struggle with the most--how I feel about myself when I wear my brace.
This is me, at my brace fitting. I am deciding if I want a plain brace that blends in with my clothing and is easier to hide. Or, if I want a colorful design instead. At this moment, I'm crying because I feel overwhelmed with the decisions and all the information. I'm wishing I didn't have scoliosis at all.
My orthotist, the person who made my brace, was wonderful. Being fitted for a body brace felt embarrassing sometimes, but she made me feel as comfortable as she could. My mom was with me, and I was glad for that. I could joke with her, and laugh about what I was going through, which was a good distraction for me. I tried to ask good questions, and learn everything I could about how the brace was made, and why I had to stand or kneel, etc. There were moments when I even had fun.
Once the plaster dried on my body cast, just like an arm or leg cast, I had to be cut out of it.
Here's me, myself, and I. My orthotist used my body cast to mold my body brace. I returned a week later for the final fitting. I really liked the blue swirls and peace sign I'd chosen.
My brace is a Boston brace, or a TLSO brace, which helps my back below my neck and above my hips. Another kind of brace is the Milwaukee brace, which helps with neck curves.
When I put on my brace for the first time, I wanted to cry but at the same time is was sort of excited. This was just the beginning.
These were long days at the hospital, at least nine hours. I was glad I brought a book, my ipod, and my homework. It was a hard day. I cried, I was scared, I was frustrated. Through it all, I tried to be positive and have fun. Everyone answered all my questions, but inside of me, there was a big empty feeling. On the way home, I realized that the biggest hurdle I had to jump now, was how I was going to feel about my scoliosis and wearing a hot, confining body brace.