Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Traumatized in Plaster

Today the back brace finally arrived, and we headed to the Orthotics & Prosthetics lab for his fitting and head casting.

It was - in short - a nightmare.

The office was in a random medical building set far away from Children's. We had to park in a garage, cross a sky walk, and wind through corridor after corridor. They were down two sets of elevators and in a small doorway. The sound of a mad scientist's laboratory filled the room - grinding and sawing, and the smell of hot plastic filled the air.

The exam room was splattered with plaster drips and the two small chairs had stains from years of use. We waited for just a moment before the Orthotist came in and set down his brace on the table.

The brace fit nicely, but was too long. He tried it on Jack, lying down, and marked against his hips where it needed to be shortened. He wasn't thrilled and struggled to move at first, but once they made the necessary adjustments he did much better. He can sit in it in the carseat (although he gets very hot) and is currently crawling around on the floor in it. (Many thanks to our sweet friend Heather who sent his Zutano outfit seen in these pictures. It's nice to have something so soft and comfortable under his brace.)

Then, they began the casting. They set him in a Bumbo (remember his aqua seat that helped him sit up when he was just 4 months old? They had one in the lab, too.) They draped him with a big, white cloth. Then they covered his entire face with a ski mask of sorts, made of a thin, breathable fabric. He screamed the second it went on - the eye holes were asymmetrical and it covered his nose and mouth. He panicked and thrashed the entire fifteen minutes, which dragged on for an eternity. They covered his entire head with a section of wet plaster, then wrapped the rest of it all the way around with plaster gauze. After letting it set for a minute, they cut it off with a large utility knife against a rubber hose sandwiched between his head and the gauze. He screamed so hard he wasn't breathing at times, and would gag and choke. We were sure he was going to vomit. I reached my hand under the drape and rubbed his leg. Two grown men could hardly hold him still enough to cast his head. He screamed, and screamed, and screamed. It was heartbreaking, to say the least. Nothing in his life has upset him so much until this moment, and we felt awful. If we had known, I think we would have taken our chances with his head self-correcting and left him alone.

He laid against my chest for a minute, then had to get dressed and back in the brace. He's easier to carry now, upright and sturdy almost. He sits up so much taller in his carseat, too. I'm deluding myself into thinking that this is going to somehow magically cure him - that one day we'll go in for an adjustment and his spine will be a standard curve and he won't need surgery. That his perfect, soft baby skin will stay the way it is and he will never know such profound pain.

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