Fair warning: This is a long post. I apologize. I type like I talk - in large amounts. But writing this is more for my own journaling & posterity than anything else.
Many moons ago at the lovely age of 11 I was diagnosed with scoliosis. The curve of my spine measured at 22 degrees, which, we learned was high enough to warrant some kind of treatment. By the time my curve reached 25 degrees, the doctor decided it was time for bracing. I was *blessed* to wear a Milwaukee brace during the already-awkward age of 12/13, in my 7th grade year. It. Sucked. My brace was a hard plastic body-jacket that wrapped around my entire torso, closing with straps on the back. It had a metal bar that went up the front up to my chin, and 2 bars that went up the back to the back of my head. Then the bars were all connected at the top, around my neck. I wore it 23 hours a day, only taking it off to shower. It had so many screws & buckles & hardware on it, it chewed up the back of my hair causing me to have to chop my hair super short (combine that with my huge glasses...nice, eh?). All the hardware on the back also put a million holes in my clothes. Constantly. The clothes that were about 4 sizes bigger than what size I really was so they would fit over my brace. It was incredibly hot. Kids at school (and church) called me names like Robocop & Iron Maiden. It was lovely.
Unfortunately, because I was a cranky and moody gal, I have discovered we have very few pictures that show my brace. And I hate that we threw it away without taking a picture of the full thing. Here are a couple of what we do have, that only show the top:
Here is a picture of one similar to what mine looked like (mine went up much higher on my back & stomach & cut just under my armpits):
I wore this one for a year. After a year, my brace had mostly kept my curve from getting worse, and the curve measured at only 28 degrees. We switched doctors to a spine specialist, and he allowed me to try out a different brace, which only required me to sleep in it at night. I was over the moon. I still remember leaving the doctor's office that day with my parents & going to Carl's Jr for lunch to celebrate. I wore that one for about 6 months, and then went back for a checkup for the doctor to check & see if it was doing the job... the curve had increased to 36 degrees. I was still only 13, and the doctor announced it was time for surgery. It was a rough day. I cried and cried. No Carl's Jr celebratory lunch that day. I had just tried out & made the dance team, and now would not be able to be a part of it. I would not be able to go up to Idaho with Sarah - our summer trip where we were going to get to go all by ourselves. I was just about to enter high school, and was convinced that my freshman year would be another awkward school experience riddled with being different and weird because, again, I would be wearing a brace (for 4 months after the surgery). Try school shopping for the first day of high school, having to look for only elastic-waist shorts. It doesn't get much better than that. So cool. So trendy.
She will likely wear it for about 2 years, assuming her curve does not continue to increase. I am leery, and know that there are no guarantees. Those bones can be stubborn, and she is currently only 6 degrees away from where I was when the doc decided it was surgery time. I'm preparing for the worst, praying for the best you could say. We have an appointment with another doctor this week for a 2nd opinion, just to be sure that this is the route we should be heading down. Dr. Camp specializes in pediatric scoliosis, so I am eager to see what he has to say. And then she goes to be fitted next week for her brace (if Dr. Camp concurs with Dr. Thomas' recommendations)
Sydney has been so brave through all of this news, and we are so proud of her. She is such a good girl, and I sometimes wonder how on earth I was blessed to have such a mild-mannered (albeit SO incredibly stubborn) child to balance out my crazy-lady-ness.
To be continued...