Brace Yourself

What is scoliosis?

 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. 

My brace fitting

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.