Part of my intent for this blog was to help others in a similar situation as my own. I searched with little result to find comparable experiences. I wanted to see how others had adapted to living in a neck or back brace. While I have shared many of my experiences, and feelings on this blog, I’m not sure I’ve been very helpful so far. So today I thought I would talk about some of my new favorite things that have helped me deal with living the last 2 months in a CTO brace.
Hygiene and personal, um, grooming have been difficult. I don’t care for the word “grooming” for humans so much but you know what I mean… I cannot take a full shower in my CTO brace. I have a shower chair and a handheld shower head, and I can take a bottom half shower. I then follow up with a top half sponge bath. Is this post getting weird? I will not go into detail, but I do want to mention a few products that have been quite helpful for this process. First of all, face wipes have been essential. I feel quite wasteful, but they really are the easiest thing to use to try to minimize my brace getting wet. My skin has been pretty sensitive due to brace contact, and probably the difference in how I clean now compared to my previous daily showers. I have had to use a very gentle cleaner like Cetaphil for my face and neck and anywhere under my brace. I also like the Yes To brand, mostly because they have a blueberry face cloth, but it turned out to be a little too harsh for my face. The blueberry and grapefruit cloths are nice for underarms, upper body, etc, and they smell great. To prevent skin irritation on my chin where the brace rubs I also have been cutting a 4×4 gauze pad to put into the brace.
Hair washing has been a challenge since the start. I have a technique that I like to use that I think works pretty well. I have to be careful to not get my hair too wet or the water will drip down into my brace. I use a wet washcloth, shampoo, and a dry towel. I will post again with more details on how I do this at a later date. My scalp has been very itchy, especially at the back of my head where my brace sits. It is not easy to get the back of my head shampooed. I have tried several shampoos and I found a moisturizing Head and Shoulders shampoo that helps with the dry itchy feeling. I also spray a little bit of leave in conditioner at the ends of my hair to prevent it from drying.
Shaving. My wonderful sister shaved my legs the first week I was home. I’m actually used to shaving my legs everyday so I was feeling a little bit like Harry. Then Tracy S brought me an electric shaver, which has been awesome! I would have never thought of that, and it has helped tremendously. No more Sasquatch legs for this girl!
Changing my clothes is definitely getting easier. Especially now that I don’t need my head stabilized while I change my brace. There was a lot of trial and error when it came to clothing, but short sleeve, tighter fitting, v-neck t-shirts have been one of the best for under my brace. They are the easiest to get on and off, and are the most comfortable. Occasionally I will wear a tighter fitting stretchy tank top, which I like for a few reasons, but then the back of my shoulders are in contact with the brace, and that isn’t always comfortable. Wire-less bras have been the most comfortable, and just this week I wiggled into a sports bra which is even more comfortable. Fancy pants (tights with fun patterns) have been my favorite thing to wear. Tights are nice because I don’t have to worry about buttons, zippers, etc, or tripping on big pant legs.