Cast day is here! Alex will receive the first of several casts to help correct his scoliosis. Currently his curve is 58 degrees.
Up at 4 am in the morning to get ready to leave for the Children’s Hospital in Atlanta. I don’t think either Tom or I slept much the night before. A little worried about our little Alex and how he would do today. The last time that we were at CHOA (Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta), was for TJ’s torticollis release surgery. They are a great hospital. We don’t mind making the long drive to Atlanta, the care doesn’t even compare to the hospitals we have here.
All the bags were packed, GPS ready and all we had to do was wake Alex up. We felt bad because he wasn’t allowed to have any formula past midnight. We didn’t want him to be hungry and hoped that he would just go to sleep after we got him in the carrier. I let Tom wake him up and change his diaper. He was wide awake, smiling as usual as Tom got him ready to put in the carseat.
All ready in the car. Ready to begin our Journey. The ride to Atlanta is about an hour, as long a traffic is good. We were hoping that at 5am it wouldn’t be to busy. We made it in about an hour, so not to bad, and Alex slept the whole way.
As we get Alex out of the car and put him in his stroller, he gave Tom and I a look that just broke our hearts. He knew that he was at an unfamiliar place. He looked at us like “Mommy and Daddy what is going to happen?” I know he trusted us, but seemed a little nervous. But it doesn’t take Alex very long to get back to his happy self and smile.
When we finally found our way to the surgery floor, we signed it and got him registered. It was only a few minutes before they called us back to get him all checked in and ready for his procedure. The nurse took his temperature, his blood pressure and his weight. He loved having them check his heart beat and tried to eat the stethoscope.
We tried to lighten the mood and try and have some fun memories before they came to take him.
Once the Doctor came in and answered all of our questions, it was time to get Alex ready in his gown and hat and tiny socks.
He looked adorable. My little squishy happy baby. The doctor’s asked what color cast we wanted. We finally decided on black. We joked around that he could be BatBaby and ride in his batmobile that my dad made.
The hardest part of the procedure is when they take him back to the OR and you can’t go past the double doors. We had a great nurse named Dina that Alex just loved. I was so happy that I caught the most precious picture of him looking at her. She talked to him like he was her own son. She kept telling him that “Aunt DiDi is going to take good care of you”. So precious.
Alex was in the OR for about an hour. He had a team in there with him. His two doctor’s, their resident, the orthopedic team and his nurse.He was one of the youngest to be put in an EDF cast. EDF (Elongation, Derotation, Flexation). It is a process where Alex is put on a special table called a Mehta Casting Table. This special table allows the Doctor’s 360 degree access to put the cast on him. They first Elongate him (stretch him out) and then Derotate him (rotate his ribs to be back normal, currently his right rib cage sticks out) and then Flexation (make sure that he can move his hips/legs).
About an hour after he went back, Nurse Dina called and said they were just finishing up on his cast and he would be in recovery for a little while. Immediately after the phone call, both Doctors came in and talked with us about his cast. They were very pleased with their first cast with Alex. They said he looked like Batman and had used Batman tape. We were very thankful that they did not have to cast over his shoulders or cast part of his thigh. They gave us some basic info on cast care and what happens next.
A little while later, the nurses brought in my non squishy baby. He seemed worn out and just coming out of anesthesia.
It took him about an hour of sleeping when the anesthesia started to wear off. They wanted him to drink some pedialite, but he did not like it. When he finally started to come to, he sucked down a bottle. Then my little non squishy baby started to be back to his old self. Here is one of the first pictures of his cast.
After the anesthesia wore off, we had to wait to be discharged. After we were discharged, we had to go to the Doctor’s office to have xrays done to see how much the cast reduced his curve. Once we got the xray back we learned that his curve was reduced to 40 degrees. Not bad for a first cast. After the xray, we had to go to Orthotics to have his cast trimmed and fitted a little better.
I don’t know what was worse, the procedure or Orthotics. Once we got there, I guess I did not know what they would be doing to “trim” the cast. That was almost the scariest thing that I had ever witnessed. My little non squishy baby on a table, surrounded by several Orthotic people with goggles on, on top of the table with him, holding blankets over Alex while I hold his hands and a “saw like” device that cut the cast. It was like a moment out of a horror movie. Alex crying, doctor with loud noisy blade that vibrated the cast. We finally got the cast trimmed about 1/2 inch on the top, under the arms and off the bottom.
In the beginning they had a special tank top that he wore. The tank top was made of a special material that had silver strands woven into it to help with moisture and to help protect his skin. We were a little worried that the tank top would allow for the underneath of Alex’s arms to rub. The worker let us know that they did have a turtleneck version that had sleeves that may help. We opted for that. She did cut and sew the neck so it was like a t-shirt. After about an hour there, we were finally done.
Tom and I were so tired and hungry. By this time, it was about 2:30pm. Time to head home. Alex was definitely ready.
We were now ready for the Journey of how to live with the cast……