Surgery is great. It takes out the bad, leaves the good and sometimes adds even more good. In my case the tumor was in my thoracic area. In addition, I had some stuff going on in the lumbar area, unrelated, thankfully, to the cancer, that the surgeons also fixed. After all was done, here’s what I understand at my comfort level.
My osteoporosis, from the chemo from the first time I had breast cancer, ate up a lot of my spine. The tumor was the other part of what was going to get cut out. The lower spine required some aligning of the vertebrae and adding some spacers between the disks. In the end the surgery went from my T6 to my L4. They took out the bad stuff and then gave me an array of cool metal bars and pieces that look like railroad tracks in the thoracic area. I didn’t notice the lumbar area. Marvin was kind enough to shoot a photo while they were giving me a CT scan to prep me for the radiation oncology part of my treatment.
Anyway, because after removing my natural bone and tissue and adding metal, the surgeon said that my back will remain weak as there is not too much there holding it all together. Breaking the support bars or pieces would be less than desirable.
Here comes the straitjacket–the TLSO back brace. It’s in two plates, front and back, part metal, part hard plastic of some sort. I’ll have to look up details online. It has lots of Velcro fasteners that like to fasten to everything else but the target of the fastener. Without the brace I can only lie in bed with my head up to 30 degrees, and I have to roll like a log side to side. I put the brace on in bed. When I was so weak, I could not put it on alone, nor could I sit up from the lying position after I got it on.
Now I have it worked out so I can put the brace on myself. Sometimes it takes a couple of tries as positioning exactly on the back plate can be tedious when morning grogginess or evening fatigue get the better of my physical gymnastics. After I get the brace on, it restricts my movements greatly. No bending, twisting, leaning side to side and anything else that involves possibly tweaking the spine in a way that it won’t like.
To support my new look of vamp I need to get some lace and leather since the brace is much like a corset. If Madonna can look great in hardware, why not the rest of us. For now I’m trying to just get pants that will fit over the brace bottom. Though I don’t like to wear sweats except for cleaning house, so far sweat pants are easiest. I’ll stick with the easy solution until fashion slaps me in the face a couple of times.
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