This is actually the first Greenville post I haven’t at least started writing during the weekend once we’re back home. Considering we received good news (more on that in a bit) and, it’s kinda crazy to say, but when the uniqueness of the trip can be summed up in just a few short sentences, it’s hard to find the words that warrant a full blog post.
We are in Mehta cast #4, cast #11 overall. The process has gotten fairly routine at this point. We have the same group of nurses. We sit and wait in the same bed. It’s all the same.
Arguably, that’s a good thing. You want mundane and routine with this kinda stuff. However, that doesn’t lend itself to the whole blogging and writing platform, now does it?
Recently, I’ve realized some people don’t truly grasp what all we cram in a Friday morning at Greenville Shriners, so, in the interest of informing, I’ve decided to give you the basic script of our Mehta casting day.
The hospital is where we start the morning. We are typically the first or the second family there, arriving between 6:00am and 6:15am and on occasions have had to wait for security to even get to their post to open the front door for us. We stay about 15 minutes from the hospital, so are typically up before 5:20, at this point likely averaging around 4 hours of sleep.
Once we’re checked in, we typically hang out in the lobby waiting for anywhere between 5-10 minutes. Again, it is us and another family. It’s always a toss-up on which one gets called back first, but we’re always headed to the same prep room, which has two beds, separated by a curtain.
It’s 6:30. They’ve never taken Harrison back before 7:30, and it is typically closer to 8. So we have anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half to fill, with the same questions on when was the last time Harrison ate, any allergies, if he did well under anesthesia the last time, etc, etc, etc. We also occupy this time with getting Harrison out of his PJs, into his new undershirt he’ll wear under his new cast, and watching the nurses determine where the best place will be to put on his bracelet. It’s typically too big for his wrist and keeps falling off, or he works it off if they put it around his ankle.
We’ve done this so many times already, we’ve determined, and are telling the nurses, that the sooner we can get him the “happy juice” the better. He is easier to work with and calmer. A flaw of having the same process repeated over and over is that a very observant toddler has picked up on things, and once we’re sitting on the bed with nurses around, he knows what’s up, and he is none too happy about it.
Eventually, we chat with the anesthesiologist that is on the schedule that morning, then a visit from Dr. Pete who marks Harrison with a P, and from there it is a waiting game until the surgery room is ready.
Eventually, the nurses come and carry our baby boy away. I won’t say this part is getting easier, so much as I’ve grown accustomed to the twist in my gut as nurses carry my baby away. (The first time he calls back yelling “Daddy” will be a rough day for me!)
After they’ve carried him off, a nurse takes us down to our room to wait. Again, we’ve done this so many times that we’re leading them at this point.
The Waiting (with food!)
After that, if it’s after 7:30, we go grab breakfast at the cafeteria, where the cashier now has started recognizing us and asking which cast we’re on. We head back to the room after our quick bite where some form of a nap is attempted to help pass the time.
The procedure typically takes around 90 minutes. Dr. Pete is typically showing up around 9-9:30 to let us know how things looked and went. Remember when I said we had received some good news this latest visit? This is when we received that good news. After comparing Harrison’s first spine x-ray to his latest x-ray, Dr. Pete said that after the first 3 casts, we had achieved a 10-degree correction. For all of Harrison’s conditions, along with the placement of his curve, high on his upper spine, the 10 degrees was an improvement that Dr. Pete was clearly thrilled and satisfied with. While talking with us, he emphasized the difficulty of ever curing Harrison of his scoliosis because of the multiple variables that come with our son. He pointed out how the goal is to keep the pace, help keep Harrison’s curve from getting any worse, and eventually have surgery to put in growing rods around age 6-7.
Once we have our visit with Dr. Pete, it’s back to a waiting game. We finally get to see our baby boy again, 2-2.5 hours after we handed him off.
At this point, Mommy gets in some cuddles while we try getting him to wake up enough to eat and drink a bit, all while having warm air pumped under his covers to help dry his newly applied cast. The drying process takes around an hour, during which I typically try to grab an additional quick cat nap. Finally able to relax enough to get some needed rest before the drive home.
Once the cast is dry, it’s off to the casting room, where they do final adjustments, cover the edges in moleskin, and wrap in a bright color of our choosing. If we have nothing else on the agenda, we go straight to the car.
From the time we pull into the parking lot first thing in the morning, to where we’re back in the car, ready to hit the road, six long hours have passed, with at least 5 more ahead of us, before we’re back in the comforts of home.
It proves to be a very long day, just at the bare minimum for a new cast. If we add a visit from Dr. Hyer, a visit to POPs, X-ray, or anything else, that just extends our time at the hospital.
While the days are long and more grueling than most would expect, they’re worth it. They’ve proved to be worth every minute spent on the road, in waiting rooms, and worrying. Every visit is another step closer to hopefully Harrison’s eventual independence, and continued improved quality of life.