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The Real Deal

Today, the doctor’s office called while I was still in school. They informed my mom that my brace was ready if I was able to come in for a brace fitting. My mom took the liberty to set up a schedule for me this past afternoon.

I was very surprised when I came home from school and my mom announced that my brace was ready at the doctor’s office and that we were going now to get me fitted into it. I kind of whined about the short notice but mom always wins because she is never wrong.

After mom parked the car in the medical building’s garage, where the doctor’s office was located, I really did not want to get out of the car. Mom kind of forced me to get out and I was a bit upset and scared that I have to go no matter what.

We entered the doctor’s office, being disappointed that I had to be here, I took a seat in the waiting area and mom went up to the receptionist to confirm our arrival and appointment. Shortly we were called and a nurse took us into a room. Not sure what you call this room, I guess treatment room. It did not look like the first room I was in when I came for the exam. The size of the room was about the same, inside there was a table, it was covered by white paper coming out from the front end of the table. There were two chairs. One chair had wheels, looks like that chair is for the doctor and another chair against the wall, I guess it was either for guest to sit in or place to put clothing. In my case mom sat there. The nurse told me to get out of my clothes and put on this shirt she handed me and wait for the orthotist, who will be fitting me into my brace and give me instructions regarding my brace. I took off all my clothes except my under panty. I put on this stretchable tunic, which was the length of my torso. It was pretty tight and very revealing, not as in being visible of my parts; I think form fitting is a better description.

I sat on the table until there was a knock on the door and the orthotist came in greeting us as he put the brace on the table I was sitting on. I looked at it as he washed his hands at the sink in the room. Now I was really scared because I was going to be fitted in that thing he just brought in which he call a CTLSO (Cervico Thoracic Lumbo Sacral Orthosis) in simple language a Milwaukee Brace and I will be in it 23 hours a day so my curve would not progress and be corrected. I ponder on the thought of wearing it until my spine stops growing and as the doctor had mention that it would be like 5 to 6 years. As he was drying his hands with some paper towels, he asked me to get off the table.

I did and he had me turn around to face my brace that was still sitting on the table. I saw all the rigid metal bars connected to the bottom portion of the brace that looks like a person’s hip but made of hard plastic with straps holding it together and these bars go up and connect with a smaller ring with cushion strategically wrapped around it, but not a perfect circle. The orthotist unbuckle the straps on the plastic part of the brace, it was like small belt straps to buckles, and that sort of open up the brace. He placed the brace in front of my body exactly where it would go. The plastic part from waist to hip was a snug shell fit to my body. I do not know what the other two metal bars in the back were for but the single bar in the front was pressed against my abdomen going up my torso.

I was asked to breathe in as deep as possible and suddenly I felt this tightening sensation on my stomach and above my hips. I was not prepared to expect this kind of sensation. It was so tight that I could hardly breathe out. The pressure cause me to break down in tears, I cried that it was hurting me. He stopped and had me turn around to face him with my brace partially fitted on me. He told me that it will be just some slight discomfort during the fitting and the first week or so, but once I am conditioned to it, I would not even notice it being on me. He dried the tears off my checks and I nodded that I understood what he was telling me and then had me turn back around so he could finish fitting me back into my brace.

I stood there anticipating the tightening pressure, as he was about to fasten the second strap at the back of the brace. I could feel this pressure pushing down on my hips. He went on to the last strap. This left me feeling like I was in a pressure confinement, which immobilized me from my waist down to my hips. My organs felt like they were about to come out of my mouth. This pushed my bottom forward and it was awfully hard to stay still. I was fighting really hard to stand still. It was impossible to look down to the floor. All I could only see was this metal bar disappearing into my compressed stomach. He came over to my right side held up this pad that was attached to the front metal bar and wrapped around my side just right below my underarm; this pad was to hold my side straight so I can maintain a correct posture. He looped the strap of that pad to one of the metal bars in the back. Boy that was tight. The right side of my body was pushed, keeping me in between the metal bars on my front and back.

Next he adjusted the two pads attached to the two metal bars in the back. He made sure the two pads would go directly on my shoulder blades. Next I heard a drilling sound, it was an electric screwdriver, and all of a sudden I could feel the two pads pressing hard on my shoulder blades. Now the pad on the left side of my ribs was being tighten as he pulled the straps to the back and looped it on a bar. That pulled the bars together to hold me snuggly inside the brace. Last, the orthotist came up to my front and stood face to face at me. He asked me to lean forward and put my chin onto the chin cup attached to the top of the bar that was coming up my front. A rush of fear overcame my thoughts, why did I need to put my chin there? What was this going to do to me? I didn’t want to put this thing under my chin? There was nothing wrong with my chin. I was supposed to get this brace to have my back fixed. I just could not get myself to do it willingly. It was a combination of fear and being a difficult task to do when the rest of your body is so immobilized. In my mind that chin cup seemed way too high for me to reach. I cried that I did not want to put my chin over there because it will hurt. But the orthotist help me get my chin resting on the cup and it felt like my neck had snapped. He used the wrench in his hand to do something the metal bar in the front and then I felt this leather pad applying maximum pressure under my chin and neck area as he raised the metal bar. I almost choked.

That support kept my neck straight and head upward. Then I heard the closing of the latch lock on the metal ring around my neck and I felt my head being pushed more forward onto the chin cup. Now I could feel there was something around the back of my neck, it was leather padding around the neck ring. I could feel a strangling sensation was evident from the pressure of the chin pad. Suddenly I could no longer move my head, but could only look at things with a straightforward focus, I had to move my entire brace up body to look at things around me nor could I look down at all. I felt the pressure on my hips with my tummy tightly compressed in and the feeling of my head being hoisted high up above my body. My body became immobilized by this metal frame on me. I wanted to speak and whine that this was the wrong brace for me, and it was a mistake, but I was having a tough time trying to open my jaw to speak. It felt like I could not move an inch of my body.

The orthotist asked me to bend forward. I tried to bend forward from below my hips and he made a final inspection of my brace with me bending over and standing up straight. My whole body felt like being in a cage. I was asked to sit down on the chair in the room so he can check the girdle (that was the plastic casing abound my hips). My bottom touched the chair and the leather pads behind my head pushed my head forward to the chin pad, which was holding my head to look up and straight at whatever was in front of me. The bottom of the brace was digging deep into the front of my thighs. The orthotist pointed that out to my mom to check for skin sore there as well as other parts of my body where there was padding strapped tightly onto me. He explained that if he had loosened the pressure then there is no sense for me to wear this brace. I started to sway a little because the brace was not allowing my back to touch the back of the chair.

My eyes were going to be doing all the work since I could no longer move my head to look in any direction without moving my whole body. The orthotist said the brace looks good and told me to get dress. He left and my mom helped me back into my clothes. I really needed get use to this. I could hardly feel my clothes being on me because of this brace. My mom held my hands to help me walk out of the room. I was like some alien or robot.

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