Bracing Myself for a Hot Aussie Summer
Hi, my name is Niamh and I was diagnosed with scoliosis on the 1st of June, (which ironically is National Scoliosis Awareness month haha) 2017 and I wear a Boston Brace. I was very surprised when I found out as I had never heard of scoliosis before and had had no clue that there was anything wrong with my back at all. I was extremely nervous about the treatment methods available so being the paranoid person I am I googled it and thousands of extremely off-putting photos and diagrams came up which ended up scaring me even more! But the truth is that Scoliosis is actually quite manageable and if you push through and put in the effort in most cases you can achieve a great result at the end! I am only 7 months into my treatment and have quite a way to go but already my back is in much better shape, with my curve starting at 34 degrees to being just 8 degrees with my brace on! I’m about to get my second brace which I’m super excited about… Goodbye Freddie the 1st, hello Suzie the 2nd!
I have always been extremely open about my condition, in fact having my Instagram account (@pretty.in.plastic) has helped me deal with my experience and reach out to many other brace wearers from all around the world! Sharing my scoliosis journey was at first very intimidating as I feared what people would think of me but I am now so glad that I did as it shed light on my situation and prevented a lot of speculation from my classmates and friends.
I got my first brace on the 9th of June (winter in Australia where I live) which was great timing but just 2 weeks later, I was on a 16 hour plane trip with my school to AMERICA!! It was so exciting but very uncomfortable, having to sit in one position for 16 hours straight! And then to make it worse, when I got out of the plane it was BOILING! Despite my brace and the heat, that trip was quite possibly the best two weeks of my life, as I tried to enjoy myself and make the most of it despite my brace. I see a lot of people on Instagram who are very negative about their experiences and I believe that if you try to enjoy your life despite your brace and maintain a positive attitude, your experience as a whole will be a lot more positive too.
My advice to new brace wearers is to embrace it! I’m sorry that pun is getting SO OLD for (me anyway) but even so I think that it is important to embrace your brace. If you want to achieve good results you have to commit yourself fully to it and keep tightening it and tightening it even when its very uncomfortable because after a while, the tightness just feels normal and you wont even be thinking about it! Wearing a singlet or similar undergarment under it is a must-do as it prevents most rubbing and chaffing and makes the brace much more comfortable in general. I would recommend a long white singlet with spaghetti (thin) straps that comes up relatively high under the arm pits as this prevents getting sores and rashes where the brace digs in. Ideally, the singlet should be 100% cotton or close to. The reason that the singlets should be cotton is because the natural fibres help your skin to breath better, keeping you cooler than man-made materials do. I got my singlets from H&M in the DIVIDED collection and they tick all of those boxes so I would definitely recommend them. In terms of fashion, I’m not an expert for boys but for girls I would recommend long t-shirts to hide how squished and flat your bum is and dresses that have a nice waist line, as its easy to look a bit rectangular in a brace! Skirts that come out a little bit or baggy jeans with a belt are also good options. For more fashion advice, check out my Instagram and also feel free to DM me, I love making new friends and helping others with their scoliosis journeys!
Hopefully in the next year or so when my spine is stabilised I will be finished with my brace but we’ll see how I go. Even though its often very uncomfortable, especially in the summer time when the temperatures reach over 40 degrees, I am putting in the effort to make my spine as straight as possible as I know it will be worth it in the long run!