The Brace is On!
My scoliosis story and bracing tips and tricks.
Hi! My name is Katy and I have recently been diagnosed with scoliosis at the age of 13. I found scoliosis a very hard thing to deal with both mentally and physically so id like to help and offer support to others who are going through the same thing. So, I’ll begin by sharing my story with you.
My mum noticed the curvature of my spine in late October when she was examining some bruises on my shoulder from the floorwork I do in dance. She and Dad researched it and found out that it was a condition called scoliosis. I’d never even heard of it before! They booked an appointment with my GP for the 12th of November. She referred me to a doctor at the hospital in orthopaedics so as to investigate the treatment options. Unfortunately, even through we were going privately, it was another long wait as the appointment was the 24th of January. I was terrified of how severe my curve was and what the outcome was going to be.
When we reached the appointment, I was sent straight down for an x-ray. We were called back up to the same assessment room for it to be measured. The doctor told me I had a main thoracic curve and a smaller compensatory lumber curve. He measured the thoracic curve as 43 which came as a shock to me. He then had to refer me to a spinal specialist. Unfortunately, there are no spinal specialists in that same hospital so they referred me to the closest one which was in Exeter. I got an appointment for the 1st of March.
At this appointment, my x-ray from 5 weeks ago was re-measured. Turns out, the way the orthopaedics doctor had measured it was different from the way that the actual spinal specialist measured it. I was shocked to see that instead of my thoracic curve being 43 degrees, it was actually 52 degrees and I also learned that I had a significant lumbar curve of 33 degrees. He then explained to me that we could find out how much growing I had left to do so they could decide on the most effective treatment option. Therefore, he sent me down for an elbow x-ray as the number of bones you have fused onto your elbow can determine how much growing you have left to do. We studied the x-ray and found out that I’d already gone past my rapid growing phase but I still had more growing to do. He told me that my curve would most likely progress within that time. In the back of my mind, I knew that I’d already gone past the point of where surgery is needed to correct my curve. I had two options; leave my curve to grow and have the surgery when its big, or try and contain the curve with a back brace and have the surgery on a hopefully contained curve. I had a big decision to make.
After a while of thought, I chose to give the back brace ago. There was no evidence that bracing could contain curves of my size but I knew that the bigger the operation, the less likely I’d be able to dance in the same way afterwards. My spinal doctor said that I was determined and positive about the situation. He sent a letter to a lady who would fit my back brace and arranged for me to have another x-ray and an MRI scan.
Less than two weeks later, I got my brace casts done. I got given my brace to wear on the 20th March. It was a white Boston brace with 3 straps at the back. I didn’t like it at first but it got better and I soon got used to it! My advice to you is to stay positive but still remember that it’s ok to cry and let everything out. I promise that if you have a brace, it will become part of who you are and that is not a bad thing.
Thank you if you read that far; I know my story’s rather long! Finally, I’d like to share some tips and tricks to help you deal with wearing your brace.
General brace tips
- Go on a shopping spree to try on clothes and find new outfits that work well with your brace.
- Baggy jumpers are always good to hide your brace.
- Get trousers with elasticated waists as they will stretch over the plastic hips of the brace.
- For summer, get stretchy shorts and loose strappy tops so you can stay cool.
- Underneath your brace, wear something really thin. I go for tight-fitting, thin camisoles that are quite stretchy.
- In school, take a body spray with you if you and your brace get hot and sweaty.
- Find a pretty bag to put your brace in when you’re not wearing it.
Being confident with your brace
- Let all your teachers know about your situation. This really helps as they will understand whatever you need. For example, I needed to leave lessons early to avoid being pushed in the corridors for the first week or so as I was still getting used to it.
- Confide in your friends. This may sound easy but I did find it quite hard. I promise you though, you need that group of people in school who understand and can help you through this.
- Settle in to wearing your brace first but then, don’t be afraid to answer questions about your brace or scoliosis. I was always worried about questions that came up but after all, when you answer them, it just makes you look more knowledgeable!
Learning to love your scoliosis
- Decorate your brace! My friend and I are planning to draw some simple pictures on each of my straps. I’ll post about it near the end of May on my blog. You can find the link in my bio on my account on Instagram which is @scoliosis_support_xx .
- Use your brace to make music! I know this sounds really silly but I found myself tapping out and singing the cup song on my brace!
- Start an Instagram account like mine! It helped me to realise that there are so many others going through the same thing and that I’m not alone. We all support each other and its really great to talk about scoliosis with them.
- Raise awareness for scoliosis. You can raise money by having a cake sale or doing a sponsored run. Don’t be afraid to show that you have scoliosis. Be that person who makes others notice and understand what you and others are going through.
So that concludes my post! I hope you all enjoyed reading this, I hope it helped you! Remember you are so much stronger than you think you are and keep fighting! If you need more information or just simply want to have a chat, my Direct Message is always open on my Instagram account, @scoliosis_support_xx . Thanks for reading, Katy. Xxx