The Milwaukee Brace
“I can’t believe how well you have adapted Kim,” Dan said.
“I am kind of surprised myself,” I replied.
“Most girls take a month or so to get used to a Milwaukee brace,” Dan commented. “Do you plan on
going 23/7? Have you considered working in your brace?” he asked.
“Well to be truthful, yes.”
“So why don’t you?” Dan asked.
“What would I say to my boss?”
“Just tell him you have a spinal problem and will have to wear a
brace for an indeterminate amount of time. He doesn’t have to know the
“It’s a she,” I replied.
“Whatever. Medical issues are personal,” Dan said.
That night as I lay in bed wearing my brace I considered what it
would be like if in the morning I could put my brace right back on after
bathing instead of going to work without it.
For the next couple of weeks I wore my brace immediately after work
until I got up the next morning and full time on the weekends. I kept
thinking about wearing it to work. An incident occurred that kind of
took the decision out of my hands. I was shopping on the weekend and I
ran into my friend Meg. She took in my brace immediately as I was
wearing shorts and a tank top that exposed my front bar and neck ring.
“My God Kim, what is that thing around your neck?” Meg asked.
“It’s a Milwaukee brace.” I explained about the neck ring, the three
bars and my rigid pelvic girdle.
“How can you stand it?” Meg asked. “I haven’t seen you wear it at
“I developed this curvature high up on my spine and this is the only
kind of brace that can correct it. I wear it from the time I get home
until I get up in the morning and 23 hours a day on the weekend. My
doctor has given me a few weeks to get used to it before I need to wear
it to work. I then have to wear it 23 hours a day every day,” I
“For how long?”
“At least a year. It could be as long as five years or more. I may
even need to wear it permanently,” I lied.
“How horrible. You can’t bend over at your waist can you?” Meg asked.
“No. I have to bend at my hips. The worst thing is that I can’t look
down very well. My head is always facing out straight.”
We chatted about my life living in the Milwaukee brace and we went to
the food court. Meg watched as I ate and drank always looking ahead. We
shopped together and eventually parted company.
On Monday I showed up at work in my brace. Everyone was very
sympathetic. A number of modifications had to be made at my desk so I
could do most of my work without looking down. My computer monitor was
raised up etc. It took a while to get a desk chair that was comfortable
to some extent.
My first few days at work were difficult, but I slowly adapted. I was
now wearing my brace for 23 hours a day every day of the week. For some
reason this made me happy. After I bathed in the morning it felt good to
get back into my brace knowing it would remain on for the next 23 hours.
Shopping With Ann
Soon after I went full time I got a call from Ann.
“Hi Kim, this is Ann. We met recently and we said we would get
together. You offered to help me shop and try thing on since it is so
difficult with my hooks,”
“Oh yes, I remember,” I replied. “I would love to. Do you want to
meet at the mall this Saturday?”
“That works for me. How about 10?” Ann asked.
I agreed and we arranged a spot to meet. That Saturday I decided to
show off my brace like I had never done before. I dressed in a short
skirt and a low cut tank top. It was cut low in back as well as the
front. I pulled my hair up into a high pony tail. That, along with the
low cut back of the tank top, allowed everyone to get a good view of my
neck ring, occipital pads and the two bars running down my back. Ann’s
hooks would be visible so why not my brace?
When I met Ann I was amazed that she too has on a low cut tank top
that revealed her entire prosthesis. I thought she looked specular.
There was something about her hooks that really got me excited.
“I see you aren’t hiding your brace with that top and your hair up,”
Ann said. “Maybe people won’t notice my hooks. They will probably be
looking at your neck ring.” We both started to laugh.
The two of us shopped for clothes. I loved helping Ann try things on.
It made things much easier for her if I could help her on and off with
skirts pants and tops. She could actually help me a bit too since
bending was difficult. I loved to watch Ann use her hooks. I knew it
wasn’t easy locking and unlocking her elbow joints and grasping things
with her hooks. The limitations of my Milwaukee brace were hardly
comparable to her two prosthetic hooks.
We decided to grab a bite to eat at the food court. I helped by
carrying the trays. Ann offered to buy lunch and I watched as she got
out her wallet and used her hooks to hand over the money. She had the
person at the counter put the coins in her wallet’s change pocket. I
knew it probably took Ann months of practice to be able to use her hooks
as well as she did.
During the meal I started to feel guilty for deceiving Ann. She would
never have her arms back and could never go without her hooks. On the
other hand I could just take off my brace and there would be no
consequences. I decided to tell Ann I was a pretender. She listened to
my story and did not seem put off.
“Kim, you may find this hard to believe, but you are not the only
person who likes to pretend they are handicapped. I found out on the
Internet by accident when I was searching for information in adapting to
using my prosthetics. There are those who get enjoyment out of seeing
pictures and videos of amputees and women who wear leg braces or have other
types of handicaps. There is a large group of men, and even women, who
like to see women who use hooks. These are the devotees. A number of
them also like to pretend. There are some who have purchased long leg
braces and like to wear them even though they don’t need them. You are
in that category. I would never hold it against you. Of course I get no
pleasure out of having hooks.”
“I had no idea I was not the only one who is like this. I really do
like wearing my brace. I feel special with it on. I like the restriction
it imposes,” I explained.
“I have noticed how you watch me closely using my hooks. Would you
like to experience what it is like to have no hands and being forced to
do everything with your hooks?” Ann asked.
I was really embarrassed now. I was afraid to admit that Ann had
sensed my inner feelings.
“Even if I did I don’t see how it would be possible. I would need to
be an amputee,” I replied.
“No you don’t. There is someone on the Internet who even sells
non-amputee arms. What you do is curl up your hands inside a socket. The
arms are a little longer than normal, but they work just the same. I am
sure Dan would fabricate them for you, I am pretty sure he is a devotee
This didn’t come as a surprise as I knew he liked the way I looked in
my Milwaukee brace. I was sure he would make me a pair of hooks.
“If I actually did this would you train me?” I asked Ann.
“I would love too. I wouldn’t resent that you have arms and hands. It
is sort of flattery that someone would want to be like me.”
For the rest of the day Ann and I shopped and chatted. Since she now
knew I had a real interest in how she used her hooks she explained every
detail as she used them. I was learning what was easy for her to do and
what was next to impossible or not possible at all. I think she enjoyed
talking about her hooks to someone who was interested. I reciprocated by
telling her more about how I felt being confined to my brace.
"You really do want to know what it's like for me to use my hooks.
You want to be fitted with hooks and use them like I do," Ann said.
"Yes I do," I sheepishly admitted.
"You do it girl," Ann said emphatically.
When I got home I couldn’t stop thinking about getting hooks. I
really wanted the kind Ann had that had locking elbow joints, but I
didn’t think that was possible. I vowed to get together with Dan as soon
as possible and ask him if he would make me a pair of prosthetic arms
Will Kim get her hooks and also wear her brace?