To my Aspen Vista Neck Brace:
I first saw you in a picture of another girl. She looked quite happy, posing at a museum in front of a dinosaur, and I didn’t really give you a second thought other than to wonder what your purpose was.
The next time I saw you was deliberate. I was searching the internet for a picture of you as I had just been given a prescription inscribed with your name.
I wasn’t overly concerned with your appearance – if anything I thought you might be less irksome than the foam collar I had previously been wearing around my neck due to your cut out in the middle.
My primary reaction was excitement, because you looked sturdy and I just wanted to try you on and see what happened, see if you could help.
The very next day was the day we met.
It was so offhand, so anticlimactic, the way the practitioner went off to fetch you while I waited to see the neurosurgeon. She handed you to me, suggesting that I try you on right away.
You were a lot bulkier than I had expected. I fumbled with your velcro straps and asked repeatedly for help positioning you.
I felt so uncomfortable, I was sure I was wearing you incorrectly. You were supposed to help, to alleviate my symptoms, but all I was getting was discomfort and pain.
I made it through that appointment feeling very let down by you, but vowing to give you a proper chance. After all, your predecessor – the foam collar – had taken a while to adjust to as well.
Our first night together was memorable for all the wrong reasons. I ended up ripping you off my neck half way through the night after being poked by you every time I shifted, have you jam my jaw, and constantly wake me up.
The next morning I could barely eat breakfast because my teeth were too sensitive after spending the night with you forcing my jaw to clench.
The next couple of days were a blur of frustration. My muscles rebelled against supporting you, my symptoms worsened if anything, I was exhausted, unable to sleep, and I felt betrayed by you. I was considering letting you go, giving up on us.
But then, somehow, things started to change.
I got a new pillow, started wearing a mouthguard, and managed to sleep through the night.
I went for a walk, and didn’t appear to be as drunk as I had seemed before.
My head pain started going down, I was more alert, and it felt like a fog had been lifted.
I started to love you. More than love, I started to worship you. I thought you were my saviour.
The honeymoon period didn’t last very long, and after about a week you started to give me trouble again. My symptoms started reappearing, my jaw and neck periodically began to ache again, and some nights were better than others in the sleep department.
Today, however, things have levelled out. You aren’t a monster, but you also aren’t magical.
We have our ups and downs, but I can say with full confidence that my life is better with you in it.
You mess with my outfits, and make sitting on a couch difficult; you make me choke on water, and make it hard for me to read a menu or cut my food, but when I take you off I miss you.
I know that sometimes I make fun of you, and sometimes I get mad at you.
I know that I test you and you creak in annoyance when I try to move my head or jaw certain ways.
No relationship is perfect, but please believe when I say that I love you, really and truly, and I wouldn’t want to be without you, even for a day.
I love the way I can tighten and loosen you depending on the situation. I love the way you support the back of my head. I love the way you hold my upper spine in alignment, giving me the best posture I’ve had in years.
I love the way you let me walk. I love the way you let me sing.
Thank you for being there and supporting me.