Sunday, October 28, 2012

Jackson's 7th Mehta Casting

A few days ago, we made another trip to Shriner's Hospital in Greenville, South Carolina for Jackson's 7th Mehta casting.  Overall, this trip was probably the most uneventful trip we've had on this long journey.  Everything went safely and smoothly.  We left home on Tuesday morning to travel for our pit-stop in Roanoke, Virginia with Justin's mom.  It is so wonderful to begin and end each of these stressful trips in Roanoke ... my favorite place on Earth!  In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, we began our trek toward SC for Jackson's pre-op appointment at Shriner's.  Other than waiting two hours to see the doctor, the pre-op check up went well.  Jackson was cleared for surgery the following day, and he was scheduled for the first procedure of the day.

The next morning, we arrived at the hospital at 7am.  We were told at check-in that Jackson's casting had been bumped to the second case ... but that was okay.  It was still early in the morning, and we were admitted and shown to our hospital room.

Soon, we were in the PACU.  While I signed all the consent forms, Jackson was excited to choose from the wagon of toys again!  BOY how this hospital is different from the Philadelphia Shriner's!

Around 8:30 AM, Jackson was taken back into the OR suite.  This time, his anesthesiologist requested holding the Versed pre-med.  He said that because the body cannot metabolize the medication during the rather short procedure, kids usually emerge from anesthesia incredibly irritable.  We were VERY willing to give it a try ... since Jackson's emergence is always the worst/most heartbreaking part of the day.  In true trooper spirit, Jackson went right to the OR without us ... unmedicated ... without shedding a tear.  He is so brave!

"Brother" kept us busy and distracted as we waited in the beautiful lobby for Jackson's cast to be applied.

After Jackson's cast was applied, during his stay in the PACU (his initial recovery is without parents) ... Justin and I had the opportunity to speak with his orthopedic surgeon Dr. Stasikelis.  I expressed to him that I was feeling overwhelmed with the possibility that Jackson is going to continue needing serial plaster casting for a lot longer.  Namely, I felt physically nauseous when one of Jackson's roommates announced that he was there for his 15th casting.  The truth is, when Jackson began his Mehta casting journey ... I expected him to need a total of 5-6 casts ... and we were already there for our 7th casting.  Dr. Stasikelis, in his gentle and reassuring manner, explained to me that he simply doesn't know how to predict how many more casts Jackson will need.  He said to me:  "It could be two.  It could be 10.  It could be more."  As you can imagine, this news was disappointing.  However, we really don't have a choice if we want Jackson's spine to fully heal.  So, I'm trying to head the advice of a close friend and take it one day at a time.  Or, in our case, one cast at a time.  We are in this for the long haul!

Jackson did wake up in slightly better spirits without the Versed.  Still, he is always incredibly tearful and helpless for the first few hours after surgery.  Before prepping his cast, Jackson spent a little time in Daddy's arm with the cast dryer.

Then, we went to see our favorite nurse, Stephanie, in the "cast room."  There, she mole skinned Jackson's Mehta cast ... and Justin and I covered it with new festive duck tape.  I suppose we will call this cast the "ice cream cast."

Jackson got his vital signs taken a few more times.

And enjoyed opening another special gift from the Children's Wish Foundation (thank you).

And even gave Mommy a cheesy smile for the blog!

By lunch time, we were packed into the mini-van and our little hero was back to his usual self ... already singing and dancing to Justin Bieber's "Baby."

We finished off the day with a trip to the Greenville mall to ride the train ... and a nice dinner at Mellow Mushroom (which never fails to remind Mommy of her college days).

*** A special thank you to all those of you who prayed (and are praying) for Jackson and for our family.  We continue to believe in Dr. Min Mehta's work to cure Progressive Infantile Scoliosis.  Nevertheless, as you can probably imagine, we are very tired.  Jackson amazes Justin and I daily.  His cast really doesn't stop him from doing much of anything (that he's allowed to do).  And, whenever we get discouraged ... all we have to do is ask Jackson if he likes his cast.  His resounding "yes" is all we need to hear.  Please continue to pray for Jackson's safety and healing.  And, if you have time, for my struggling spirits. ***

As always, thank you.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Rite of Passage

It took a little over 5 months to get there ... but we got there nevertheless!


My boys took their first bath together under the "waterfall" as Jackson calls it.

Look at that face as Jackson thinks:  "Umm ... why are you in my bathtub?"

And ... after Jackson promptly dumps a cup of water over Oliver's head, Oliver thinks:
"I REALLY DON'T KNOW ... and I want out!!!"

Jackson, giving his cheesy grin, grows quite pleased with himself.

And poor "brother" just begs for mercy.

Now that this rite of passage is complete, I think we will resume our old routine of individual baths for Oliver's sake!

Bye Bye Bob Cast

Wowzers!  Six Mehta casts down ... honestly, I never really thought we'd be here.  That's what I get for "assuming" anything, right?  The truth is, when Jackson began his treatment for Progressive Infantile Scoliosis, I estimated that based on his original curve measurement, his physical build, and all the accounts from other PIS children that I had researched ... he would wear 5-6 casts.  

Well, yesterday Mehta cast #6 was removed, and we will travel back to our new doctor at Shriner's in Greenville, South Carolina for cast #7 next week.  And, (gasp) cast #8 has already been scheduled.  The first time we visited our new orthopaedic surgeon, he said that he would x-ray Jackson's spine again after 4-6 more casts (beginning that count with cast #6).  To me, a minimum of 10 casts seems like A LOT of serial plaster casting for a "flexible" curve beginning around 50 degrees and responding well to treatment, so I'm not convinced that I'm going to wait that long before requesting another x-ray.  However, I do know that we have at least a couple more casts to go.

Am I happy about that?
Well, no.

What keeps me going?
Hearing my brave toddler tell me he loves his cast and is excited about getting another one next week.

Farewell, cast #6 ... fondly known as "Bob cast."

For the purpose of perspective ... you are looking down into Jackson's cast from the top in the photograph below.  Look at how TINY his waist hole is next to my outstretched hand!

Which explains why he's my skinny-mini (and itchy) fella out of his cast!  Think:  Titanic-era corset wearer.

Lastly, I am thrilled to report that for this first time since beginning Jackson's Mehta casting journey ... I didn't have that "heart sinking" feeling when his cast was removed.  Now, I realize that he is not yet finished with casting; however, I think his spine looks straighter than ever before ... and I haven't felt the compulsive need to stare at it or to run my fingers down it over and over again.

Check out this healing process:

Early Onset Scoliosis:  (September 2010)

Prior to Mehta Cast #1:  (September 2011)

Prior to Mehta Cast #2:  (November 2011)

Prior to Mehta Cast #3:  (January 2012)

Prior to Mehta Cast #4:  (March 2012)

Prior to Mehta Cast #5:  (June 2012)

Prior to Mehta Cast #6:  (August 2012)

Prior to Mehta Cast #7:  (October 2012)

And ... I have to share one more image with you ... because you can almost see the entire spine ... and it looks B.E.A.utiful!

Your continued prayers for safe travel and treatment are greatly appreciated!

Sunday, October 14, 2012


This weekend was Homecomings ... at The University of Virginia.

And, it was a great weekend for friendship, football, and fond recollection.

Then . . . .
Remembering the purple shadows of the Lawn, the majesty of the colonnades, and the dream of your youth, you may say in your reverence and thankfulness:
"I have worn the honors of Honor.
I graduated from Virginia."

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Wiggles

"Fruit Salad ... Yummy, Yummy!"

Ring a bell?

We hope so ... it's from our friends, The Wiggles!

On Tuesday night, Jackson attended his very first concert ... "The Wiggles Live - Farewell Tour" in Washington, DC with Justin and I.  Before becoming and parent -- heck, even after becoming a parent but before Jackson started loving The Wiggles -- I never dreamed I would admit to this ... but we ALL had a extraordinary time together.  First, it was nice to spend a few hours alone with Jax.  There was no sibling competition ... less to carry ... and quality time to focus only on him again.  Also, we left in plenty of time to drive into the city, got there really early, and had unexpected time to explore the National Mall before our show.

Jackson was so surprised when he woke up from his afternoon nap (in the car) in Washington DC.  Wonder what that must be like for a little child?  Ha!  He couldn't believe all the tall buildings, "race cars," lights, and museum artifacts.  We heard a lot of:  "Oooo .... wows!"

Since Justin had never had the opportunity to see the early American flag ... we spent our extra hour in the Museum of American History.  It was surprisingly uncrowded, so we were able to really enjoy the exhibits.  Also, we spent some quality time just walking around the city and allowing Jackson to "take it all in."  For me, it was a time of fond reminiscence about my few years as a "DC-an" myself.  How crazy it is to think that Justin and I used to jog along the Potomac River, looking out over the many beautiful monuments only a few short years ago.  Wow, how times have changed!

Would you believe that Jackson even cooperated for pictures?
(wonder if it was because "brother" wasn't with us?)

*     *     *

An hour or so before The Wiggles show began, we discovered this unique burger joint and decided to check it out for dinner.  Also, it made me feel like we were including Oliver in our evening in a small commemorative way.

This photograph of "the smile" makes me literally laugh out loud.  I'll have to say ... I hope this phase ends before we take any school pictures!  :)

Soon, we were off to The Warner Theatre for our show!

Built during the "roaring twenties," the theatre was exquisitely ornate and timelessly beautiful!

We made our way to the nosebleed section ... but not for long!  Because the show wasn't sold out, the Warner Theatre offered upgraded seats ... to the VIP balcony ... for only $10/person.  We took advantage of their wonderful offer, and ended up with great seats before the show began.

Then, suddenly ...

"Beep, Beep, Chugga, Chugga ... BIG RED CAR!"

I cannot describe Jackson's reaction to seeing The Wiggles in person ... other than to say that it made me cry!  What a special evening with my boy!

We said "hello" to the new Wiggles ... Emma, Lachy, and Simon (in 2013).

And "farewell" to three of the original Wiggles ... Jeff, Murray, and Greg ... who are retiring after this final tour with The Wiggles.

It was a little bittersweet to watch these guys take their final bows.  However, we had a fantastic time watching them dance, sing, and make us all laugh!

*     *     *

But, the fun wasn't over yet!  After the show, we went to Barnes and Noble to change Jackson's diaper before getting back on the road.  Then, we retrieved our van from the parking garage.  All along, The Wiggles' tour buses were parked where we could see them.  However, as we were leaving the parking garage, Justin spotted camera flashes.  Although I was initially apprehensive (because I didn't want to bother the guys ... and because Greg Wiggle had the stomach flu and I'm a bit germ-a-phobic) ... Justin declared that "you only live once" and pulled the van over.  We jumped out of the van, ran down to the tour buses, and ...

Jackson met The Wiggles!

It was so cute because Jax didn't recognize them in their street clothes.  However, the moment Murray Wiggle began talking to him ... you should have seen Jackson's face light up.  He knew exactly who he was talking to!

Look at that face!!!  Here is Jackson with Anthony Wiggle (blue) and Murray Wiggle (red).

And, because he's a regular groupie ... Jackson also stopped for a photo with Lachy ... the future purple Wiggle in 2013.

Looking at Jackson's expression in the photos, I seriously cannot believe how "star struck" he is at only 2 years old.  It was truly a priceless evening!

It was Wiggle-rific!