5 (Quirky) Tidbits from an Expert

Coming up on two years in a back brace to counter my scoliosis, I’ve begun to consider myself a little bit of an expert on the day-to-day realities of the matter.  So, once again in honor of National Scoliosis Awareness Month, I bring you today five interesting and/or quirky tidbits and facts on bracing from the top-secret inner sanctum of Bendy Spine People.

1) It’s Called A Thoraco-Lumbo Sacral Orthosis (and You Can Name It)

Some places I’ve even seen it written thoracolumbosacral orthosis, but that is just too hard to read, IMHO.  It makes sense if you think about it.  Thoraco=chest, lumbar=back, sacral=having to do with the sacrum, orthosis=a brace designed to correct the aforementioned when they do stupid things.  At one point I considered making everyone in my household call it that, but I just call it my brace, so that would be unfair.

Also, you can name it!  (If you want.  Is that weird?  I feel like it might be.  But you already knew I was weird.  Right?  RIGHT?  *laughs maniacally and forces you to watch the entire fourth season of Doctor Who*)  Since the brace’s official title is often abbreviated TLSO, I called my brace Tal.  But then I had to get a new one, so it’s name is Hal.  It’s great fun.  For a scoliosis patient.

2) It’s Made of Like, Plastic

This is where I’m not an expert, but my brace is made out of a fairly dense foam on the inside, and a hard plastic shell.  They have to be custom fitted, but they’re good at reducing the curve of peoples’ spines, which is awesome.

Also, there are different types of braces.  There’s one kind you only wear at night, but according to my orthopedist, the all-day ones are generally the best.  So there you go.

3) Wearing It on Long Car Trips Is Not Really a Good Idea

Any longer than three hours, I try to take it off.  Why?  Something about prolonged sitting makes the edges of the thing press into my skin and irritate it immensely.  You can’t make it too tight in general either.  Sometimes I tend to because I’m like “No, I don’t want surgery.  I’m making this as tight as possible!”  But yeah.  Don’t do that.

4) My Friends Are Awesome

Okay, what does that have to do with Hal?  Well, I can see where the brace might be a cause for teasing and/or bullying at school.  But, I’m homeschooled (*fist pump*) and my friends from extra-curricular activities are cool with it.  It’s always funny when Ian knocks on Hal to “see whether I am a robot today”.

And honestly, I don’t mind people asking what it’s for.  Or (amiably) calling me a robot, or my spine bendy, or joking about my “abs of steel”.  It’s all good.

5) Sometimes, Hal Has Its Advantages

Believe it or not, having to wear a thoraco-lumbo sacral orthosis 23 hours a day can have a few upsides.  For example:

  • If you bump into the corner of the table on accident, it doesn’t hurt.  When I get to take it off for good, I’m kinda afraid I’ll be clumsy because right now, I can afford to be.
  • Similarly, if you get punched in the stomach, it doesn’t hurt.  No one has for-real maliciously tried to slug me in the gut, but even in jest, the few that have pretended too have exclaimed “Ow!”  I really  want to test whether it’s bulletproof (when I’m not wearing it, of course).  It also protects against tickling, unless your assailant knows where the holes are.
  • It’s almost an extra layer of warmth in the winter, which is a plus.  (And also in the summer, not quite as nice).
  • It’s useful for random drum beats and sound effects, especially footsteps and helicopter effects.  (I have way too much fun with that.)

So there you have it.  Five (hopefully) interesting tidbits from a Real Live Expert on bendy spines.  If you have something to add, or want instructions for the footsteps and helicopter sound effects for use with your own TLSO, please leave a comment.  God bless!


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