where wheelchair users and BIID/transabled unite!

Braces on me

Chapter One

This whole brace thing started when I was about ten years old ,and a girl a couple grades ahead of me in school had polio and had to wear a afo mounted to a saddle shoe (early fifties).when I asked her if I could try it on for size ,she agreed and took the brace and shoe off and handed it to me and I proceeded to put it on ,being nearly the same size as she was, made it a lot easier to do .so when I was in the brace she asked me how it felt and I just said something stupid ,I supposed and then she told me to run and jump and do a bunch of other stunts, and most of them did nt work very well ,I then returned her brace to her and asked if ,when she was done with it if ,and she stopped me right there and said that she would have to wear it for the rest of her life ,now that’s something for a ten year old to try and comprehend. Anyway I sort of forgot about braces for the next few years , until my best friend Mary showed up for school one Monday wearing what she said was a “Blount Milwaukee spinal hyperextension orthosis, or simply put a Milwaukee brace. This was the coolest thing I had ever seen a heavy leather pelvic section and a stainless steel neck ring and aluminum and stainless steel bars up the front and back respectivly, and it was locked on so that she couldn’t remove it even if she did want to. Well just like the last girl I asked Mary if I could wear her brace for a while just to see how it felt and what it was like and stuff. At this point Mary looked at with an unusual look on her face and said that she could fix it up for me to have my own brace if I wanted to.

I said sure, but what will I tell my folks about it when they see it and what would we tell the school and my doc and all the rest . Mary said that her mom Jan would take care of all of that and not to worry. Well as it happened my parents were leaving for New York for three weeks for a business trip ,and that I was to stay with the Morgans until they returned .so that afternoon I arrived at the Morgans home and Mary showed me to my room and then took me downtown to her moms office. It looks closed Mary,and she agreed but said her mom said to use the side door ’cause that was always open for the docs and the technicians and so forth, so that is what we did. Once inside Mary shouted for her mom and Jan came out of a small room and asked me to follow her back to it.

As I followed her we walked past all kinds of junk and tools and plaster molds of legs and arms and bodies and as I entered this small room Jan closed the door behind herself and asked me to get into a pair of casting shorts and sit up on the table ,so I did and as she explained that she knew that I thought that I was getting Marys old brace ,which may have fit me ,sort of poorly ,she could not ,in good conscience allow that ,so instead she decided to fabricate a whole new brace just for me and my outings with Mary I think she called it “publiking “or something ,anyway while Mary and I were “publiking in her creations ,we would carry some of her cards that would tell people where they could get custom made recreational braces at a reasonable cost and excellent quality ,and then she asked me if I had any questions .As one might imagine ,I only had about a hundred…..thousand or so ,like what would I tell my parents when they noticed me in a Milwaukee brace and the teachers at school and my doctor and,and,and….”.Whoa there” said Jan all of these things will be taken care of in due time ,first we have to get a cast made so that I can build the brace ,then we need to fit it to you ,then find out if you can wear it for any length of time before any otf that stuff becomes an issue .now about the cast ,if you will follow me into the casting room we can get started .So we walked out of the small room into a much larger room that had all sorts of equipment in it some hung from the rafters ,some bolted to the walls and some screwed to the floor ,so I asked her which one of those things she planned on using on me and Jan said ,pointing to the one hanging from the rafters, this one .

About all it looked like was a cage with open front and back and minimal sides and a couple of hooks .so I went over to it and stood there while she got some stuff together and drew a bucket of warm water and as she walked over to where i was standing she started to explain the procedure and handed me a big piece of stockinet and asked me to pull it on from the feet upwards, which I did and then she made some marks with an indelible pencil by wetting it first and then drawing on the stockinet ,explaining what all the marks were for ,when she was done with that she took out a head halter and fastened it around my head and chin and adjusted it ,she then hooked it up to the hooks on the frame and went over to the wall and pushed a button .a motor started to whir and the halter started to lift me off the floor, when I made a noise she stopped it and inserted a bite block into my mouth and went over and pushed that button once again and this time i came right off the floor and after about fifteen minutes my feet were touching the floor again and she pushed the button yet a third time and lifted me off by about a foot ,where i stayed for about a half hour .then she unwrapped a large wide roll of plaster coated cloth and dipped it into the water ,squeezed out the excess water and started to wrap it around my ankles ,then my knees and on up to my thighs and she did both legs that way ,so I asked her why she was wrapping my legs for a back brace ,and she told me “that as long as we have you here we might as well do the whole wrap in case we needed to do the legs at some future date and then she continued to wrap the rest of my upper torso and arms and neck and head .

I remember that it took a good two hours for the plaster to set and just about dry, so here I am suspended for about three hours .at first it was painful but as I hung there it hurt less and less and when she let me back down it was really strange for my legs to bear weight again .after the plaster was hard enough she pulled out a small machine she called a Stryker, and I wondered if she was going to strike me with it ,and she replied that a Stryker was a saw to remove the plaster, and some times it vibrates so much that it tickles ,but soon the plaster was all off and it was set aside to finish drying and to get sealed together so that it could be filled with more plaster in order to make a positive mold of my entire body, and Jan said that it would take about a day for the plaster to set and dry ,so Mary and I could go home . We stopped for pizza on the way home but my jaws were still stiff from the casting session, so I couldn’t eat much. We watched TV for a while and I finally got to try Mary’s brace on, while we waited for her mom to get home and it felt really good, but Mary said that my brace would feel even better because of the custom fit, so I thought to my self,”if this brace feels this good, my new one should feel like a dream”

Chapter Two

When Mary’s mom got home she found me sleeping on the couch in front of the TV. still wearing Mary’s brace and asked how it felt and I explained that I just wanted to see what it was like ,but that it felt very comfortable and really quite good all in all .With that Jan told me to go to bed and sleep well ,and to wear Mary’s brace so that I would have something to compare the new brace to because the brace I was getting was a little different style than Mary’s. I went right to sleep and dreamed about this new brace and what it was going to be like wearing it and explaining it to my friends and family and what ever.

Time raced by until it was ten a.m. and Mary woke me by shaking the brace and asked me to take it off so she could put it on ,then we would go down to the office to get me fitted for my brace .Well it was a Saturday and Jan was the only one around the lab ,so we went right in ,and back to that first little room and sat down to wait for Jan to come in to take some measurements ,but instead when she came in she had the finished brace in her hand and announced that she did most of the work on it last night after we left and then came in early this morning to finish it up ,because she knew that I was anxious to get into it .so here I was standing in a brace lab just about to be put into the neatest brace ever built and it was going to be all mine ,so with out anymore delay Jan started to thread my arms through the front of the brace and then she attached the front panel with screws and then the back panel and the sides and finally the neck ring .She then made a few adjustments and said that was it and I was now wearing a brand new Lyon spinal orthosis. She then asked me to walk around the lab for a few minutes to get used to it and then tightened all of the screws and said that we should be back at about 4:30 for re-evaluation of the fit and so forth ,and asked me how it felt and if there were any bites etc. Then she explained the differences between my brace and Mary’s, indicating that Mary’s brace had a posterior opening and that the Lyon had no opening and that the only way I was going to be able to remove it was with a special tool that fit into the screws that held it together, and that I would need a partner to help me remove it anyway. This Lyon brace was the coolest brace I ever saw and I could move around better in it than in Mary’s brace I could even bend over somewhat ,try that in a Milwaukee brace.

Well we went downtown and then out to the mall and I was getting used to it pretty well when I decided that I needed to hit the john ,all of a sudden things got difficult ,but I managed to overcome the problems .I was putting my shirt back when this guy came over to me and commented on the beautiful brace and asked if it was for need or for fun I told him it was for fun and he got all excited and asked where he could get one ,so I gave him a card and told him that the woman makes the most beautiful braces and he agreed as we were leaving the restrooms area ,on the way out he saw one of his buddies and explained what had just happened and the buddy wanted a card as well, and when we went back to the lab I told Jan all about my first day in a recreational brace and about the two guys and all the rest of it and then asked Jan when I would be able to remove my new brace she looked at me and said “remove”? Not for at least another three to five weeks minimum and then we will make some changes

Chapter Three

At the end of the second week, I was still staying with the Morgan’s and Jan asked me to come into the lab with her this morning, so I said o.k. and away we went, now this was the first time I was going to be in the lab while there was anyone else there so Jan told me to let her do all the talking and I complied.

When we arrived she had me wait in the reception area while she got set up .soon the nurse came out for me and we went back to a different small room and I hoisted myself onto the table as the nurse set up a pillow for my head, so that I could recline, then she asked if i would like a warm blanket and I thought that would be nice so she brought it in and draped over me so that i would be comfortable, and I was.

About twenty minutes later Jan wheeled in a cart with some items under a white cloth and closed the door .i asked what that stuff was and she replied that it was the second phase of my new brace and reminded me about the bolts sticking out of the sides of the Lyon brace .these bolts are for …and she held up a bi-lat h.k.a.f.o complete with new shoes and started putting them on me and affixing them to the brace .she made a few adjustments and helped me off of the table and asked me to walk around for a while so she could observe gait analysis. she also told me not to straighten my legs out completely as there were these drop locks that would fall and make walking impossible with out crutches .before I was to leave for the bus stop she fitted me with those crutches that have the arm cuffs instead of the under arm ones and said that these were better because they would give me better support and control, she also showed me where the lifts were for the drop locks so that when I got on the bus I could at least sit down. The address she sent me to was a place where they do custom fitted wheelchairs and they were already waiting for me when I arrived.

So these folks had a power chair all ready for me when I got there and all I had to do was just sit there while they made the adjustments and corrections ,then they told me all about this new power chair and all of the features and so forth and especially about the battery level gauge and that when it changed from green to red I had only about another forty-five minutes of battery left, but not to worry because there was a small engine that turned a generator that would charge the batteries in about an hour and that would give me a full charge so i could go again .then they opened the door and sent me on my way .

So here I sat with these new leg braces a new power wheel chair a new back brace and no clue as to how to get back home again, but I was extremely pleased that I had all of these goodies and was going to make an adventure out of getting home and it would be an adventure at that

Chapter Four

Well I got my bearings ,and discovered that I was in the southern part of the city and the transportation system I needed was about thirty six blocks from where I sat .Perplexing at the least ,not to mention rather overwhelming ,here i sat ,totally new at this gimp business, and not knowing exactly how to handle any encounters that are bound to come up ,an I assumed that there would be a bunch of them .

Little did I know…..Well anyway I started to follow my nose ,more or less and got headed in the right direction and was making fairly good time ,getting across intersections and all, and most of the sidewalks in that part of town were A.D.A. compliant ,so that wasn’t much of a problem. Most of the people that I rolled by were unaffected by a man in a powered wheelchair wearing braces all over the place and didn’t even give it a second thought ,there was this group of rather young kids, however that posed a bit of a dilemma for me and this is about where the adventure began. The largest of them was about 5’5″ and maybe 125 pounds ,and I correctly assumed that HE was the “leader” as I was rolling by the place where they were sitting and drinking what I assumed to be sodas and smoking cigarettes ,this “leader type ” walks over to the sidewalk and stands right in front of me ,so i stopped ,unfamiliar with the surroundings and less familiar with the power of this chair ,let alone the traction it had ,and said” well lookie here guys ,we got us an electrogymp on wheels ,whaddya spose we outta do wif im, and I suggested that he let me pass lest he become injured ,this caused quite a laugh amongst these kids and the large boy asked me if I was “gonna hit him wif my crutches “,I told him that I would not want whatever it was that he was made of splattered all over my crutches ,this caused another laugh ,until he glared at the others and they all stopped laughing. I simply stated that if he chose to remain there I would run over him to which his reply was something like “O.K. see what happens if you do ” ……so I did, and was very surprised to learn that this chair had some balls, and although I didn’t run completely over this baboon I did put a new sense of respect into and otherwise disrespectful little brat, and when I backed up he got up and summoned his pals to run away with him and they just sat there. He took off anyway, then one of the other kids came up to me and said” I don’t apologize for nobody ,but I’M gonna apologize for this guy cause he don’t know no better ,and he was a looser” then this kid said “me an’ my buddies will walk you through the next seven blocks, cause it gets kinda tough through here” I thanked him .As we “walked” they all opened up and started the same questions that I would have asked ,given a similar set of circumstances,like what was it like to wear a brace and so on ,and I tried to explain as best I could given my somewhat meager knowledge of the subject ,but I got through it all o.k.. Well we were at that point where they had to go one way and I the other and as we parted they all thanked me for talking to them even after the way it all started, and I got the impression that there were some potential “wannabes” in that group, the more the merrier I thought, but they would have to wait a few years.

Anyway I was rolling through a better part of town now and as I rolled by a bar I was thinking how good a beer would taste right about now ,but all of the bars had steps ,in the past this would not have been a problem, but in this chair ,well you know the A.D.A. hadn’t gotten to this side of town yet ,so much for the beer ,and I thought it was all right just the same as I didn’t have my I’d. that says that I twenty-one on me at this point so I just rolled on towards the bus station ,then I started to hear another chair rolling up behind me ,and when I had to stop for the light he caught up with me and we started to talk and sat through the next four changes .He admired my braces and my chair and we talked about all of the pitfalls of being a gymp, then he told me that he was only a gimp on the weekends and I looked at him and said that I was new to this whole deal too ,so I gave him one of Jan’s cards and then we went to this place that didn’t have any steps and he ordered two mugs of dark beer ,then he told me that during the week he was an orthopedic assistant ,and that he had access to all sorts of braces and casting supplies .I said that I thought we should get together and talk it over after I was done with my initial wear in time ,at that he asked what I meant by that and I told him the whole thing ,he just sat there with his mouth open ,hanging on every word and when I was done he just said “unbelievable” “a wannabe’s dream scene”. Well we finished our beers and he asked how I planned on getting home and I told him that I was planning to take the bus ,with that he asked just how was it that I planned to get into the bus, what with the chair and all ,and I just sat there and looked stupid for a few minutes and as I thought about it said that I hadn’t figured that part out yet .He told me that the milk route drivers don’t take freight on weekends and the chair is considered freight to them and even if I could board the bus, I would have to leave the chair and that if I did that, even in storage for the weekend ,there wouldn’t be anything left of it by Monday because the thieves would strip it for drug money .”Oh” I said, and you have a better plan? “Sure do”, he said ,and here it is ,we had stopped next to a hi-cube van with the name of the company that he worked for emblazoned all along the side of the box ,and all I had to say was “oh”, “now what?”. well he pushed a button on what looked like a garage door opener, and the tail end of the van started to drop ,when it hit the ground he rolled onto the ramp and motioned for me to do the same thing ,and although I was a bit apprehensive ,I rolled onto the ramp along side him, and up we went .Once inside with the door closed he noticed that I was looking a bit nervous and said “I could bail, if I wanted to ” and I told him that I would go along for the ride just to see where it went .

Chapter Five

When Bill asked me where I was headed, I explained that my folks were in New York for three weeks, and I was staying with friends, as a matter of fact the very same lady I spoke about earlier in our conversation, the one that built these braces and set me up with the chair and all, was the same one with whom I was to stay, lest of and as a matter of course, I chose to do something different, and this was, by all accounts “different,” so I told him that all I need do was to call Jan and explain where I was and what I was up to ‘,so that she would not worry and all, so Bill handed me his cell phone and explained how to call her .

So I called the Morgan’s and Mary answered the phone and wanted to know where I was and what had happened and all the rest of it. After I filled her in as to why I was so late in calling she told me that her mom had gone to the wheelchair place and they told her they kicked me loose, thinking that I was a local and didn’t even give a thought to the fact that I was a newbie and when they figured it out, I was already gone, So Jan knowing that I was familiar with that area, did not worry ….much. At any rate she was relieved that I was all good, although she was a might pissed that I had stopped in a bar for a cold one, but she soon forgot about it and wondered what had happened to me so I explained it all over again to Jan, and when I was done she only asked if “Bills name was Arneson and I confirmed that and asked how she knew that .She told me that she knew who he was and that he was an excellent technician and was to be trusted implicitly, which set my mind at ease.

Jan wanted to know how I was doing with my new additions and with the new chair so I filled her in on all of the details and told her that I was going over to Bills house and that we were going to have dinner and a talk about gimping, and he was going to show me some of his work .I then asked her if I could remove all of this hardware, in order that I might try on some of bills creations, but she refused and said that we had a deal and then I remembered it and nothing more was said.

During the next six weeks, Bill and I made the rounds and were seen in public a number of times and each time it got better and the six week “wear in period” went by quickly after which Jan allowed me to remove my braces to try out some of Bills toys. In the mean time my folks had returned and had taken off again at least five other times since then and, I think it was on the second or third time they got back, that they finally noticed that I was wearing some braces and my mother inquired as to where these devices had come from and when I told her that while I was staying with the Morgan’s, Jan had noticed some defect in the way I walked and stood and she had taken me to one of the docs with whom she works and he prescribed them, expecting a an uproar ,and deep concern over my well being ,all I got was … “Oh, I see, well Jan knows best what to do with things like that I guess”. “How long will you have to wear them “she asked, and I said “evidently quite a long time as there were some very serious problems that needed to be corrected “again all she said was “oh”. Ever the unflappable, good ol’ Mom .So I can now come home wearing any type of brace and /or cast and not have to worry about what will be said at home. This is a cool thing and has worked out rather well at that. Anyway after all this had gotten back to “normal” I asked Jan why she was so determined to keep me in those braces for so long at a time and she explained that she “enjoyed seeing me wearing them, and the state of near helplessness it set me to, and, she said she also knew that I have wanted to be braced for a long time, and the addition of the bi-lateral h.k.a.f.o’s and the powered chair was the topper for her. Some months ago she had gotten a special deal on a powered wheelchair for a large adult, so she picked it up for little more than a song, as for the cost of the rest of the braces, well, when you build them for a living another set-up like the ones she put me into, was just a snap —- and the hkafo’s were actually built for someone else and that party never returned for the final fitting, so when she discovered that those braces were so close to the measurements she took from me that it was a good way for her to turn them over to me . So now that Mary was done with her actual medical needs for her brace she could get down to the recreational side of braces. Mary had explained to her mom that she wouldn’t do any of it unless I was to get hooked up with a set of braces of my own, so that we could go out in braces together and “public “in them .So when I availed myself to “tryout” Mary’s Milwaukee brace, Jan just grabbed at a golden opportunity and went ahead with the total brace concept as Mary had suggested.

Chapter Six

Bill was promoted to manager of his company’s new branch and had to move to the other side of the state. Mary and I kept adding to our collection of orthopedic toys, and our circle of recreationally braced friends grew steadily, and Mary and I would go off on little jaunts to other towns and places even farther away, we would go see bill about twice a year.

One time we checked into a swanky hotel in full iron and the hotel staff literally fell all over themselves to provide us with grand service, and when we discovered that they would not accept even a nickel ($5) in tips we were ecstatic and we had a ball. Later, we learned that the hotel had just been fined very heavily for non-compliance with A.D.A. Standards, so they were trying to avoid any further complaints…So, we decided to push their envelope, as it were, and showed up for dinner in a formal dining room in sweats and braces, and in our power chairs, although we got a lot of stares,’ nary a word was ere aspoke’, and we continued to enjoy our dinner, a word of advice however, if you are wearing a Milwaukee brace. Do not ever order the lobster, as it is messy at best without the m/b, it is a disaster in one; Mary did and, was making a total mess of it. Over the next years we also learned that if you intend to party don’t overindulge, as emmesis is even worse in brace than it is out. Other things to avoid are, snowmobiles (this one especially as you cant keep out all of the wind and the bumps feel like they will just pop your head right off the top of your spine Both Mary and I are pretty fair water skiers out, but in brace is a whole different story as with the added weight and diminished mobility it just doesn’t work the same ..

If passion overtakes you, and you feel that you just have to do the nasty, we recommend that you take off any upper torso braces as, with, the extra dimensions braces such as Milwaukee’s, Minerva’s and so forth add, tends to make it difficult, if not impossible altogether. Give it a try if you don’t believe it…We are both in brace for most of the day and a good share of the evening and sometimes we will do the 23 hour thing, just to stay in practice, and as with any activities we will do the exercises that are recommended by those folks that know about such things, this avoids atrophy, or muscle tissue loss.

Chapter Seven

After I got used to donning and doffing that whole setup by my self, it was easier to play. I did my work thing and sometimes wore the braces to work and I would like to wear them to restaurants and to shows etc. and overall it became pretty much second nature to be wearing them for most of the day, and when Mary would come over we would choose which braces we would wear that night, and where we would go, and what to do after we got back, well that part was easy.

Mary worked at an office ,and they did things like organize your business and do payroll and equate efficiencies an all of that sort of stuff ,so she could wear any brace she wanted and most of the time she wore her Milwaukee, the Minerva ,or a Florida . My work was just a might different in that I would be able to wear only a certain brace on a certain day ,Mondays for instance were a .f .o. day, Tuesday was Milwaukee brace day, Wednesday was a little more difficult as it was halo day , Thursday was hip, shoulder and neck brace day, and Friday was hkafo day ,so you are reading this and wondering how this all works out ,well I had learned the orthotics technician business and currently work for one of the largest orthotic labs in the state and ,on those days ,I wear the type of brace that I will be fitting ,you see I found that if a patient is getting one for the first time ,and if he/she sees the fitter in a similar device ,it tends to set their mind at ease ,and also adds a greater degree of credibility to the oft times used “I know just how you feel” or “it is not really all that bad “and several other things fitters say to their clientele to promote compliance with a specific regimen for treatment. For the medical users a brace that is not worn is not a good situation. If it fits and is customized to the patient and is judged to be functional and easily disguised from view it will be worn to the completion of the prescribed course of treatment this is a good thing ,but if it sits in the closet or hangs on a hook and is not worn ,this is a bad thing ,so I wear what ever it is that I will be putting on the patients that day ,and by doing so have actually increased compliance by 37% over the other fitters who do not wear “demos “as they are called in the profession (demos=recreationals) so I get to wear a bunch of different braces and appliances for the “benefit” of my patients. What a deal, getting to wear new braces, and, get paid for it as well!

Well one day I went into work in a Milwaukee and my boss comes in to my fitting room and tells me that he thinks what I do for my patients is a really cool idea but, that the example of the Milwaukee brace I use is outdated ,and that if I am going to be correct about this ,I should at least have a current model and I of course agreed but stated that I could not afford a new brace at this time then Dan, my boss, said that because I have increased compliance with my patients ,the company would build it for me for free. Well I just about fell over backwards at that news and asked when they were planning to do this little project ,and Dan said “how about right now ?,so I looked at my appointment book and saw that I was open ’til 4:45 and the time now is 7:30 so I said “sure lets do it .So I doffed the old brace and went into the fitting room ,got into a pair of casting shorts and some stockinet and Dan and Jerri came in to do the plaster work .Well being a tech ,I of course wanted to help ,but they insisted that it will go quicker if I just pretend that I am a first timer ,so I said o.k. and just laid there and let them do all the work .First Dan applied about 45 pounds of traction to my neck and sixty to each leg and fifty to each arm .I was then left alone for a little over and hour and a half whilst things stretched out .after I was all pulled out they started to wrap plaster around my feet then onto the ankles ,knees and thighs and on up to my waist ,torso, shoulders ,and ,when they came to my throat I thought that they would just stop there ,but they kept on going around the back of my head ,then my forehead and on down my arms . Well this a lot of plaster for just a Milwaukee I said ,and Dan said that he thought ,as long as we(they) had me here as such they would do the entire cast in case they wanted to make additions at some point down the road ,so I figured that if they wanted to do that ,who am I to argue ,especially for the price .As they were just finishing me up a phone call came in for them to fly out to an outlying hospital to do a halo for an accident victim. Dan came in and broke the news thus” You are probably gonna hate me for this ,but we just got a call from Community hospital and Jerri and I have to fly over there to do a halo and take some other casts for the eight accident victims involved in the crash ,we will be back Saturday morning to cut you out of this ,but for right now we must leave immediately ,sorry ”

Sorry ?,one of the things I have always wanted to try was total body plaster for a day or two ,o.k. so I was getting it for four days ,and was getting a new Milwaukee out of the deal ,nothing to be sorry for ,of course I didn’t say that to Dan but I sure was thinking it awfully hard. When the receptionist came I asked her if she would call Mary at work and she agreed, and after Mary arrived and saw me totally casted, she was ever so slightly envious and asked what the story was, so I told her the deal, and she became even more envious and then she asked about the traction and I said that as the plaster was set and mostly dry that she could remove it and she informed me that she already had and that I was in for the duration.. I told Mary where my keys were and she said that she would take care of me whilst I was in this cast ,but she expected me to do one for her when she had the time off and I said I would .Well unfortunately for me Dan and Jerri came back a day early ,when I asked what they were doing back so early Dan said that the doctor there said that one of the cervical fracture victims had expired in the night ,of complications and one of the leg fractures had been flown out with heart problems on a chopper so that took care of two of the most difficult cases ,so they finished early and decided to come home and let me out of my “little plaster prison” Which I was enjoying to no end .so Dan got out the cast saw and was just starting to cut ,and the phone rings ,as it is prone to doing ,and this time Dan and Jerri had to rush back to their apartment building for some reason and they were gone for almost 8 hrs ,another reprieve ,but they came back again anyway and Jerri started to cut and tell me all about why they had rush out so quickly ,because there was a fire alarm coming from their side of the building ,and it turned out to be a fire in the boiler room so they had smoke damage ,what with the oil that fires the boiler, and a motor and the 2400 pounds of newspaper the stupid landlord stores down there well the fire department closed the building for the week and these two had to find another place to sleep for the time being .Meanwhile I am still stuck to the casting table and have been for 96 hours in a row and loving it ,but as is the case with all good things ,this too came to an end Dan finally found enough time to get the job done and freed me from my little heaven, oh well it was fun while it lasted ,it did ,however feel strange to have weight on my legs and feet once again ,or more specifically ,to have all of the weight pulling in the same direction as opposed to the traction and the cast .

Well after four days Dan calls me on the intercom to inform me that my new brace was ready to fit ,so I went over to the lab to try on my new toy ,and when I walked in ,there was Dan and Jerri and the brace(s) .I must have looked pretty astounded ,because Dan asked if I would like to sit down for a minute ,and I did. these were absolutely beautiful ,not just polished but highly glazed ,mirror finished and the leather was all hand tooled and there was some color as well ,so when I could form complete sentences I asked “why all of the glitz? and Dan said “most of your patients are kids with scoliosis , and the occasional round backed adult ,we thought that if they saw what a work of art this brace could be they might want to have some of it on their own braces ,and thus add to the compliance rating you already have going ,what do you think?? “I think you could possibly be correct in your assumption, who in the world did this exquisite work, and Jerri said that her brother has been doing it for years and as a favor he came in one Saturday and buzzed it out for us. I understand the premise, but what will he charge on a regular basis? Jerri said that he would only charge at the rate of $7.50/hr and all the kids he could meet and the occasional cup of that black stuff we remotely refer to as coffee, so I agreed to give it a try on a couple of braces for my patients ,to test the waters as it were. And further to see what kinds of work this guy could do. Hey , If it increases compliance ,what could it hurt , although the insurance companies wouldn’t go for it , it could be construed as a decoration that would improve cosmesis of the device and this is a good thing ,especially when you have to put one of these braces on an adult ,for “roundback” or as an adjunct to a halo brace where everyone can see the vest, and the biggest plus would be for young boys who would have to wear a Milwaukee for the next six or so years,they could have car stuff or whatever ,tooled right into the leatherwork. So why not try it, after all, it does look petty cool.

So anyway I donned this brand new Milwaukee brace and was actually surprised that it fit and felt much better than the old brace ever did, although Dan did have the throat mold a little high ,to begin with, that was soon adjusted for comfort as opposed to functionality, so that I could work without being in too much extension and later on when the rest of it was finished ,and attached to the main body of the m/b ,it was a real trip trying to walk, but as I tell my patients “after a couple days, ya get used to it .

Well when Mary saw them for the first time she got all excited and wound up about going out to show them off

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One Response to Braces on me

  1. alan newman says:

    what a fantastic story wish I knew someone in Australia that does braces if u know someone e mail me will u