Ready, set, go! Finally, I have a moment or two to sit down (maybe) at tell you about Jackson's 5th Mehta casting for the treatment of his Progressive Infantile Scoliosis.
This Friday, June 1st, 2012 at 9 a.m., Jax was scheduled for his procedure at Shriners' Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Although we didn't have to arrive at the hospital until 7 a.m. for check-in, we still left our house at 2 a.m. in order to allow time to stop and feed baby Oliver. As we pulled onto I-81, I looked over at Justin in the driver's seat and said "do you realize that two days before Jackson's first Mehta casting, we found out that I was pregnant with Oliver ... and, now we are traveling to Philly with him in the van?" What a journey this has been!
Good morning, Philly!
We arrived at Shriners' right on schedule, and after a little while in the waiting room, Jackson was called into the pre-op area to prepare him for surgery. Although he isn't actually "cut open" for his Mehta castings, the procedure is still performed under general anesthesia in the operating room and is considered a surgery. Astonishingly, after all of his experiences at Shriners', Jax still loves the PACU. We laugh at this fact because he cries when we pull up at the barber's shop ... yet he smiles, claps, and waves at the nurses and doctors in the PACU. Maybe it's the Versed he gets when he's there?
We managed to keep him from breaking the surgical crib ... which he, by the way, loves being put inside [whose kid is this?] while the nurses collected his vital signs.
Here's Daddy demonstrating pulse oximetry on his ear lobe while Jackson watched.
For the first time E.V.E.R. (1 out of 5) Jackson was completely free from any illness/allergies/congestion ... and Mommy was finally a tiny bit less worried about him undergoing anesthesia. Thank you, Spring! Jackson's orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Cahill, came and discussed the plan with us before Jackson was sedated. Although we have been given the option of postponing casting over the summer (due to the heat) and restarting in the fall, Mommy knows better because she has read Dr. Min Mehta's research studies on Progressive Infantile Scoliosis that demonstrate that this is dangerous for allowing the curve to relapse. With Dr. Cahill's graces, we did not x-ray Jackson "out-of-cast" this time, but proceeded with casting regardless. We will not stop casting Jackson until his spinal curvature is below 10 degrees-- standing, out-of-cast, and we know we are not yet at that point.
Speaking of sedation ... after the paperwork was signed, Jax received his Versed ...
And was very willingly (as you can see) whisked away to surgery.
Upstairs, we all waited the 1.5 hours while he was casted. Oliver was a very patient little brother and did a wonderful job of keeping Mommy and Daddy's minds occupied while they waited on Jackson.
Unfortunately, Jackson is never as happy when he returns from surgery as he is going into the operating room. This time, he had a particularly difficult time waking up from the anesthesia. Both Justin and I think this was because he didn't sleep at all ... I repeat, at all ... in the car on the drive up to Philadelphia.
Also unfortunately, Jackson's recovery nurse had an issue with my picture taking. I have never once been told not to use my camera at Shriners', but she asked me not to. Of course, when she walked away I had a few nasty things to say behind her back (gasp). Justin was slightly ticked off about it too ... and encouraged me to "go ahead and snap at least one photo," so I did.
My single recovery photo should give you a fairly accurate idea of how Jackson felt about Mehta casting #5.
After we applied moleskin and Super Mario duck tape to Jackson's cast, it was time to travel to radiology for his "in-cast" x-ray. Luckily, nurse-no-fun didn't come along with us, so I was able to take a few photos of my boys!
Waiting on the elevator to go get x-rays taken.
Jackson's traditional casting day "tattoo" from Dr. Cahill.
Once the x-ray films were obtained, we received some really encouraging news from Jackson's surgeon.
In Mehta cast #5, Jackson's spine is being held at ZERO degrees!
With that news, we understand we are at a crossroads in Jackson's treatment for Progressive Infantile Scoliosis. Our next trip to Shriners' Hospital will be an interesting one. We will not know upon arrival whether or not Jackson will be casted a sixth time or molded for a plastic brace while he's under general anesthesia. Dr. Cahill will take standing, out-of-cast x-rays of Jackson when we arrive at Shriners, and we will then make that decision. Again, I will not allow Jackson to be "braced" until his spinal curvature is below 10 degrees per Dr. Min Mehta's recommendations. So, in August we will travel to Philadelphia prepared to stay for about 3 days. If Jackson needs a 6th cast, it will be applied as usual, and we will return home the following day. However, if his curve is below 10 degrees, he will be anesthetized and molded for a plastic brace. Then, we will stay in Philly while the brace is made and Jackson is fitted into his brace. From what I understand, each brace lasts approximately 9 months (with intermittent checks), and Jackson will have no less than 2 braces for a total of 18 months. He will wear his brace 23 hours per day.
As I always say, we are cautiously optimistic!
* * * * *
Mehta casting #5 was, by far, our most "carefree" casting experience at Shriners'. Other than being bumped to the 9 o'clock slot, and not being allowed to take pictures (because, naturally, there is always something unfortunate), nothing major went wrong. Therefore, we took our time on the trip back home, stopping at a HUGE Bass Pro Shop that we thought Jackson would enjoy. We were right!
And, while we were there, I found our next major family purchase ... a new couch that I just HAD to have!
[who buys these things?]
When we got home that evening, Jackson had already adapted to his newest Mehta cast. Just by looking at it, it appears to be one of the more "comfortable" casts that he has worn. "Comfortable," I'm assuming, is a relative term. Yet, Jackson has never once complained.
In fact, a little conversation we had this morning warmed by heart. It went something like this:
Mommy: "What is this?" (pointing to Jackson's cast)
Mommy: "Do you love you cast?"
Jackson: "Oh, yes!"
(Jackson rubbing his cast)
"Ooooo ... wow!"
He's our hero!