Thus the final Mehta cast is off!!
We started this chapter nearly 250 days ago. Unknowing at the time if we’d be going through 6 weeks of casting, six months of casting, or more. All we knew was that we were starting a steep uphill climb without knowing our ultimate destination. After 249 days, while we did not reach the summit, we managed a respectable climb and are happy with where we’re planting our flag.
While I’d love to maintain the mountain climbing metaphor throughout this, I’d rather not risk losing sight of things. We are closing this chapter, and I can present numbers like 6 Mehta casts, a 10-degree correction, and even the 249 days that this chapter lasted. However, there’s more than what can be quantified with digits. Now that Mehta casting is in our rearview mirror, I can allow myself to be more open about it.
We went into this not knowing what the ultimate outcome would be. We, of course, had slivers of mediated optimism, but we went in knowing that fully curing Harrison of his scoliosis wasn’t truly on the table. From the curve’s high placement, add Harrison’s arthrogryposis and nemaline myopathy, and there were just too many variables to expect a complete correction realistically.
To be frank, the 10 degrees we achieved (I say we as if his mother and I did anything) was in itself a surprise. Ultimately, we went into this treatment for one reason more than anything else: the alternative outcomes of doing nothing were far worse than anything we faced choosing this path.
That’s not to say it was an easy choice!
We’ve gone through eight months of questioning if we made the right decision, as most people in both the AMC community and the NM community look down on Mehta casting as a scoliosis treatment. Eight months of ups and downs as Harrison had to acclimate himself to a new cast. New casts which carried different weight balances or that would hold him in a slightly different position. Every casting came with what felt like steps backward in Harrison’s development after the 6 to 8 weeks of development that was achieved between castings.
We even suspect that Harrison’s delays in talking could come from being put under anesthesia each time they applied a new cast.
We’ve watched our little guy get frustrated more each consecutive visit to Shriners. He quickly learned if we were in a certain room, that meant he was getting put back into a cast. We’ve had countless sleepless nights due to a cast being too tight as he’s grown or simply being too cumbersome to get comfortable.
I’ve made jokes regarding his casts throughout this whole thing. I’ve gone as far as calling him “Handles” because his casts work as extra handles to allow you to hold him or pick him up rather easily. Honestly, he’s been in casts for so long that it feels foreign to hold him without. Unfortunately, we still have people act as if they can’t hold him while he’s had a cast on. They’ve acted fearful of holding him or potentially hurting him for the last eight months. Those are the types of unspoken things that’ll break your heart as a parent.
Don’t even get me started about losing out on taking baths and showers these past eight months. About watching the unmitigated joy in my son’s eyes as he got to play in the bath 1, maybe two times between casts. It broke my heart to see that joy, as he’s always loved the water. It was so bad between casts 4 and 5 that part of me just wanted to head home from Greenville and skip the appointment altogether.
So ole emotional dad over here will admit I’m happy to be moving forward and starting the chapter. Am I disappointed in the outcome? Yes, but I’m just as equally satisfied and content with the outcome. Dr. Pete, despite all his attempts, simply cannot help Harrison further through casting. I am beyond thankful and appreciative of all he has tried and his honesty and candor with us throughout. There are no other hands I would have wanted my son to be in these past eight months.
So where to from here?
The next step is a trip back to Shriners Children’s Greenville. We’ll be picking up a brand new TLSO brace, along with shiny new AFOs and splints. (Not to mention the need to grab some new kicks!)
Coming into the spring with a whole new look and setup!
Are we done forever with Mehta castings? I don’t think so. I suspect we’ll revisit it again down the road. While I hope Harrison’s curve doesn’t worsen, that reality is always there. We know a few years later, we’ll discuss and plan growing rod implant surgery. Thankfully we have a while before we have to worry about that one.
For now, we get to enjoy hugging our son again. To give raspberries and tickle his ribs. To take a moment and catch our breaths before the next chapter begins.