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The Image

Rating:; Genre=Non-fiction; Pages=12; Characters=23,448;
I had really questioned my mental stability and my sanity a thousand times over the past few weeks as I embarked on my "new image." It had seemed like centuries that I had been "possessed" with the desire to wear two long legbraces. To have my thighs and calves surrounded by comforting leather done up tightly with so many belts and buckles and laces and straps. I could "taste" the cool steel that supported my legs and kept them in such fixed positions. I could "hear" the metal buckles, the locks clicking into place, and the Velcro closures when they were part of the image.

I could remember every instance of having seen other people in braces, especially those of the opposite sex. And soon my dreams were to come true. How many nights had I fallen asleep wearing my imaginary long leg braces, often coupled to my back brace? How many countless images of others in braces had crossed my mind in that delightful hypnogogic state that precedes sleep? It had been the source of some deep pleasure that was still locked within me. It seemed to have so many component parts. Physical. Sexual. Mental. Emotional. It triggered things closer to ultimate happiness than anything else I could ever imagine, and my life thus far had been a very full and varied one.

My mind wandered back to a bus ride so many years ago. For my first "brace" I had purchased several rolls of adhesive tape and had a thick magazine under my arm. I hesitantly locked myself in a stall of the public washroom at the bus depot and splinted my leg with the magazine and tape. Feelings of guilt and shame washed over me, but were transcended by waves of pleasureas I stepped out and took my first stiff steps. So this is what it's like! My confidence rose with each passing swing of my stiff leg. I tried the stairs. I sat down. I got up and climbed the stairs again. I reflected on giving my undivided attention to every instance of seeing others withwalking, sitting or climbing stairs with a stiff leg, especially the opposite sex. And the reflections paused to consider that the "preferred image" was always of someone with both legs encased. One just didn't seem to do it with thesame profound effect. Except for a solitary exception.

My mind replayed the scene. A downtown city sidewalk after dark. I saw her coming with her companion from about a half a block away. She had on a mid-length skirt and a brace on one leg. One cane, no crutches. It was her gait that intrigued me and caught my attention. She had to swing the braced leg far out to one side and twist her body to move. As I watched her near I focused on the shoe attached to the brace. It was built-up about an inch on the inside and about three inches on the outside. I bumped into a trash can in the midst of this visual stimulation, and when I recovered they were past. Watching from behind, I could see that it was more than just a leg brace, but there were outlines of some kind of a back brace through her sweater. I just stood there and watched until they passed from sight.

But here was a start. My taped and "splinted" leg endured the long bus ride. I was on the verge of anger, or was it disappointment that no one asked what the problem was. I had generated a long story about being hurt in a football game, together, of course, with the explanation that they were certain I would have to wear a BRACE forever. But nobody said anything. The word "brace" kept repeating itself in my head. For about two or three minutes until it was replaced by a resonant "braceS." Yes, that would be the dream, the goal, the desire that I would "hide" from the world. THAT'S what I wanted more than anything else. My mind reviewed various ways to obtain them. None seemed very plausible, and my mind began dwelling on the many times that I had seen others in braces with fantastically complete recall.

We arrived at our destination, which was home, and I had to make the quick decision to keep the splint on take it off before I called for my ride. I opted to leave it on and see what happened. Much to my surprise, everyone bought my story. This went so well that I further explained that I had to see the doctor the next day. Everyone else had to go to work, and I assured them that I could take a cab. Which I did; for more tape and a piece of metal that I intended to shape into some kind of an "attachment" to the bottom of my splint.

I remember being very excited when I arrived back at the house with my package of new accessories, and quickly locked myself in the bathroom. I added several rolls of tape to my ankle and tried to bend the thick piece of metal to no avail. But, being mechanically inclined, I hobbled to the basement and managed to bend it into shape between the tines of a gardenfork. I broke several of the tines, but there were lots left for the lawn or garden by the time my "foot piece" was shaped to my ankle.

I returned upstairs and taped the metal piece to my angle and lower leg. There was something so exciting, so stimulating, so refreshing about having my thoughts become reality. Before my newly fashioned "foot" hit the floor I had decided that all this was eventually going to lead up to wearing abrace, or better yet, braceS. I practiced walking, sitting, and climbing stairs for the rest of the day. It was all done in a wonderful state of mind. I began to get some vague understanding of the power of the mind's desires, and at times, how frustrating and energy consuming unfulfilled desire can be. It was in this state of mental examination that I lay down on the couch to have a nap. I fell asleep quickly and awoke a few hours later with total recall of a very vivid dream. I think they call it "lucid dreaming" these days. One of those ones that are so REAL you have to give your head a shake and tell yourself "it was only a dream" for hours; sometimes days. This was one of those. I had imagined myself about ten years older. In my limited "research" about my braces fantasy life (information IS scant) I had gotten sidetracked, and had become very interesting in the latent powers of the mind, especially over the body.

There were hundreds of titles on healing, meditation, and mind/body issues. I began spending almost every spare waking minute in the large downtown public library. On one of these occasions I took a brief respite from my studies to "cruise" for cast or brace illustrations in an orthopedic text book. I found a dandy. It was a color shot of a young person sitting on the edge of an examination table with two long leg braces. Lots of leather. In fact, there was only the kneecap, a small section of the ankles and the toes that were not strapped or laced in rich brown leather. There were metal and leather "sandals" for the feet, fastened with what looked like two wide Velcro straps - although I don't think that the product had been invented at the time. There were no ankle "joints" as I had come to know them. There was a ratherwide piece of metal that wrapped around under the foot and tapered to a well-riveted connection to the uprights. The knee joints were rather large looking with two hinge points. There was some kind of a locking mechanism,but I felt "left out" that the details were not clear in the photo. Braces just like those, I decided right then and there, were going to encase my legs some day. Come to think of it, the term AKFO wasn't used at the time either. My how my thoughts are dated!

I began reading the text portion and got immersed in the Chapter "Specialized Application." It covered all kinds of conditions, the names of most I could not even begin to pronounce. Then, near the end, there was a brief paragraph or two under the heading "Conversion Reaction." It read something like this: "In some instances there is paralysis that has no biomedical, neurological, pathological or cause that can be diagnostically determined. X-ray examination shows normal bone and joint development. All tests show conclusively that the paralytic limbs should be functioning normally. Yet,most of these patients, for reasons unknown, simply contracted some form of paralysis spontaneously. In most cases it has been determined that the paralysis affects a previously injured part of the body."

My mind went into high gear, no overdrive! It immediately wove that paragraph into what I had been reading. Why would it not be possible to access the mind in such a manner as to "cause" the paralysis of my legs? They call it "The Certainty Principle" today, but at that moment it was a simple idea whose time had come. THAT was what I was going to learn todo. THAT was how I was going to be my braces!

The "frantic" nature of my project was given a "stop-order" when I realized or learned that the key to all this was going to be meditation. So I started on a discipline of meditation. It was very difficult at first; my mind wanted to wander to its usual fascinations over braces, casts, crutches, orthopedic wards and reviews of past scenes. Or, it would project into the future with me in my two long leg braces. It was a slow process, but once started. Some immediate results were obtained. I had more clarity, a better ability to focus my attention, and my recall was much much better.

I learned about contemplative meditation, and it was in this "state" that I would examine a mental brace and all its component parts. It got so I could see the stitching on the leather, see the little errors, notice stray leather fibers at the punched holes in the numerous straps and belts. It is interesting to note that most of these images had leather belts for fastening, a preference that exists to this day.

From the contemplative meditation, I would take my braces to "placement" meditation. It was there that I would be fitted. It was there that I would strap them on with so much careful attention. It was there that I would walk around, test the fit - the tightness of the corset top and calf cuff.It was there that I would carefully select which shoes to wear. Sometimes with the sandal-type brace, more often with caliper-style inserts in my shoes (one often built-up) or special boots. It was there that I would go out into the world with my braces on and "field" the comments and questions of humanity. It was there that I would begin to discriminate the stares of people. I had never heard the terms "Devotee" or "Wannabe," but there was a certain special "something" that darted between myself and another person on some instances of eye contact. It was as if they were telling me that not only was it 100% okay to wear braces, but that they would like to wear them themselves.

I never knew how true these "visions" were until very recently, but I am getting off course here. It was there that I began my "visits" to the medical profession. I was carried in, wheeled in, assisted in; and I had them baffled. I had taken the techniques "backwards" so-to-speak, and instead of using the mind's power to "heal" I had used it to create my brace required paralysis. To me this was indeed a very special form of healing indeed. To stray a bit, are not most prayers merely the expression of some internal desire or want? The trouble, if it could be called that, is that my results were not as predictable as I would have desired. During some of the various tests, I would "lose it" and re-act, especially pin pricks. The inconsistency of my results were not all negative; it had the "experts" in a quandary! In this state I "practiced" being examined, being X-rayed, being submitted to every treatment these "experts" could conjure. I had hydrotherapy. I had hot wax treatments. I was in traction. I had a wheelchair. I had my legs in casts for a time. I really enjoyed that! I took all manner of pills and answered questions and questions and questions. I was beginning to wonder if they'd ever fit me with my braces and leave it at that!

The traction was very interesting. Remembering that this was all done in meditation, I think about how I managed to "access" another layer of mind. While in mental traction, I meditated! That was very powerful, and it was there that I began to "Know" that it was possible to have mental paralysis. I would be "there" for a few seconds, then lose the capacity. My readings on hypnosis had much mention of establishing and then accessing the "resources" of Higher Self. I began to simply touch my index finger to my thumb whenever the paralysis began. THIS was going to be my method! And I practiced with diligence and patience. The days rolled by, the weeks eclipsed and over the next few months I became ever-so-increasingly able to develop the paralysis at will.

My thoughts were not confined to this alone; many times I would buckle my braces on and wear them for an afternoon or evening. I remember wearing them on the outside of my pants on one occasion. Someone asked me about that, and I simply replied that the leather had given me a rash. I also noticed that special "connection" that flashed between our eyes when we made contact. I watched from the corner of my eye as we departed. Yes, that's "one of us!"

On one of the "outings" I attenuated to the medical fraternity again. This time they thought that complete immobilization for a week or two might help, and asked if I would consider it. I pretended to be hesitant, but quickly agreed on the story that I would "do anything" not to be paralyzed. It seemed like a grand opportunity to go a bit farther and prattled on about having back pain and sleeplessness as a result. Told them about meeting another person who had identical braces and that the answer for them was a back brace fastened to their leg braces. I could have been tipped over with a feather when they called the Orthotist and made an appointment for him to measure me before they applied the cast.

This time it was THEY who seemed impatient and in a hurry and I was at the hospital the next morning. I was ready! I was placed in traction for that day and night; the cast was to be applied the next morning. There were half a dozen people in the room. It was going to be a performance indeed! First, the Orthotist took about a million measurements. After getting assisted into various stockinettes that covered everything but my face and forearms, a thin cast was made from my mid-chest to my thighs. That was cut and removed for a mold that the othotist would use to make my new back brace! This was exciting as hell! Next, I hung suspended for what seemed like an eternity by my forearms into cloth slings that were pulled up tight by ropes that went through pulleys in the ceiling. They must have used two hundred of those rolls of plaster bandage!

It was warm, cozy, secure and very very comfortabledespite my arms beginning to ache from just hanging there. The cast was applied down to my hips. They used what appeared to be a high tech blow dryer to help the cast set. Then I was gently lowered down, and all hands helped gently lift me onto a gurney. I was wheeled to another room, or maybe it was in another part of the same room, I'm not sure. I was gently placed on some kind of a table or frame. My feet were strapped to two foot boards, my legs were spread apart quite a bit and the casting operation began again in earnest. When I thought it was over and lavishing in the warmth and security of this new experience, someone took a few measurements and departed. In a few minutes they re-appeared with a metal bar that was fastened between my legs with many more plaster bandages. Someone, apparently in authority, mumbled something about "drop foot," and there was a general mumbled consensus. With that, my feet were unstrapped and encased in plaster with only my toes sticking out.

I was in heaven. And stayed there for three weeks. At the end of two weeks they wanted to release me from my new nest, but I insisted that I was feeling so much better that I was certain it was helping more than anything so far. They were extraordinarily happy with their success in this, so I decided to push it another notch, and told them that I was certain that the relief came from both the cast (especially on my back) AND the fact that my legs were spreadapart.

Seems that they took all this information "under review" and the orthotist came in and talked to me what seemed hours. The conclusion of all this was that I was going to be fitted with new braces for my legs coupled to a backbrace. Then, to much surprise and delight, they were going to fabricate a second unit with the legs splayed apart. This one would be for home use during periods of paralysis and would be a "bare bones" model. It would have no ankle or knee joints, and drop-ring locks at the hips.

Things were happening quickly! During the three weeks, I spent most of the time practicing meditation/hypnosis methods, and needless to say, concentrated on my techniques to create and dispel my paralysis. I distinctly remember the day, the time, the MOMENT, when I KNEW I was getting this down to a pretty disciplined and controlled thing. Although not as paranoid as many people, I have never been overly fond of being punctured by needles. One morning the "blood sucker" arrived in her usually gleeful fashion. She was a young and gentle Florence Nightingale variety nurse that took blood for the lab. After the usual greetings, joke-of-the-day, and chit chat, she got down to business. As she lifted my left arm to find her target, I lapsed into a dreamy state and willfully lost all connection to my arm. She noticed immediately and became concerned. I simply stated that I had been propping my head up with it and it had fallen asleep. She accepted my answer verbally, but her eyes told me differently.

I began questioning whether I had "blown my cover" by doing this impulsive move. I watched her swab the inside of my forearm. No sensation whatever. The needle went in. No sensation at all. I smiled to myself. Yes, this was just like almost anything else; practice, practice, practice. And I did.

Well, the day came when I was cut loose from my secure and cozy plaster home. I really wanted to save it and take it home, but didn't feel right about asking. So, off I went to physiotherapy, the pool, the hydrotherapy for the next two - or was it three days. I'm slim and in pretty decent shape, so getting some measure of muscle tone back wasn't really such a big deal.

I was laying on a low couch doing leg raises with a little sandbags strapped to my feet when I saw the brace-maker come in the room with, OBVIOUSLY, my new braces! He and the physio had a quick talk, then came over and proceeded to explain things to me. All the usual crap about the need to keep doing my exercise, to go through the "full-range-of-motion" two or three times every day. Ice for swelling, blah, blah, blah.

Off came the sandbags, on went a pair of socks, and then they proceeded to get me into my new braces. The complicated braces were laid out beside me and they helped lift my limp and unmoving legs into a bent position and support their dead weight while I lifted my hips and lay in the new backbrace. The back part was a shiny steel frame that extended to the hipjoints. To it was molded some kind of plastic or fiberglass shell with a soft lining. There were two wide belts with Velcro closures to complete this part of the new appliance. This was sensational. I was tempted to "come out" of paralysis so I could feel them strapping the cuffs on my thighs, but thought better of the idea. The two of them each took a limp leg and with more difficulty than I expected from experienced people, got my feet into the ankle-high black boots and laced them up. Then the calf cuffs were secured and finally the corset around my thighs. Although I could feel absolutely nothing, my mind was busy exploring all these sensations as if there were no paralysis in place.

The wide belts were snugly tightened around my waistline and upper chest. THAT I could feel and was remarkably aroused by this new restriction. The orthotist examined his work, made a few slight adjustments at one hip with his bending irons, and we were ready for the parallel bars! They helped swing my feet out over the edge of the low couch as I pushed myself into a sitting position with some wonderful difficulties! Instead of merely giving me my crutches, they each took an arm and a handhold on the metal at my hips and helped me to a standing position. The wonderfully familiar "clink" of the drop rings was a melody to my heart.

The bracemaker took over at this point and explained that larger footplateshad been installed in the boots and that he omitted ankle jointsdeliberately. I hadn't noticed this and the mere talking about it was veryexciting. He explained that if I chose to "lock" the hip joints, I should be able to maintain a nice erect posture without having to exert much effort in keeping my balance, but that trying to walk was going to be a much more difficult matter than with just the leg braces. And how right he was! The physiotherapist brought the crutches and I went to swing forward and nothing happened! This was interesting indeed!

To make a long story short, I was educated, coached and corrected for as long as I had the energy for the rest of the day. I was assured that the locks wouldn't have to be engaged all the time, just when my condition was aggravated. The hip locks were released and my ability to get around was far better than ever, and I had had lots of practice, both real and imagined. The physio explained that the other brace, the one with the splayed legs, wouldn't be ready for two or three days. They would deliver it to me by courier. It was explained that it would be next to impossible to move around in it, and should be used in bed only when my condition was severe. I agreed ....verbally! And with a great sense of accomplishment I left the hospital.

The new braces fit very well, my legs and psyche felt so secure and safe in their nicely padded confines. The torso shell and brace was a wonderful added fringe benefit to these feelings of security and completeness. I tried to move sideways every minute or so, and was pleasantly restrained from all but the smallest motion. This was great. During the next few days I wandered around more than usual in my new "uniform." I was pleased and satisfied, and really enjoyed picking up on those people who stole extra glances and stares. I think that there was a part of me that was out more to roll eyes from wannabe's than having the fun of these outings.

Why not, I recall every sighting that I have made in my entire life! Yes, why not! And this morning the telephone had rung with a call from the courier company. They had a large package from the hospital and would deliver it around 10:00. Only a few minutes to go. The hell with the instructions, I have moved a lot of the furniture around to make wide trails through the house for my first ventures in this new bracing. I was excited, aroused, curious and getting impatient. "Ring" At last. At last. The ultimate braces have arrived! "Ring" The feeling of a passing cloud, but one of a mental nature. "Ring" My eyes opened. The telephone. "Ring" I let it ring and ring until it stopped. I was lounging in the dream. One of those dreams that seem so much like reality. Interesting how the mind works!

Hope you enjoyed!

john

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