Well, final set assuming all goes well. But our treatment has been textbook so far, and I’m incredibly grateful we haven’t had to deal with complications. After cast #2 it was really just smooth sailing. We all got used to handling him with them on, diaper changes and all, and Jonas doesn’t even seem to notice them anymore. Usually the night/day after casting might be a little extra rough but nothing really that crazy. Plus the kid is still a newborn, remember? That’s a crazy of its own anyway!
This last and sixth set of casts was the hardest emotionally though, because this time the doctor performed the tendon lengthening procedure (or tenotomy). I explained it before, it’s basically just a quick snip of the Achilles’ tendons with a scalpel, but I still felt so bad for him! That does not sound pleasant at all.
To add to our stress, Jonas was sick that week and it didn’t even occur to me until the morning we were supposed to drive down that it might be an issue. No fever or anything, and he was only going to have a local anesthetic but still, his immune system was already fighting on one front. I called the clinic and the nurse coordinator said we should be fine, so we packed up and drove down anyway. Oh, and here’s the other major stressor we were dealing with that day: it was the day after a big snowstorm. The roads had been plowed, but that did not mean they were clear.
Yeah… lots of fun. This is one of the challenges with living in a low-population state in a rural area — there just aren’t enough plows to cover these vast stretches. The trip took us 3.5 hours instead of the usual 2 because we had to take it veeeeery slow. I was a ball of nerves half the trip, doubting whether we should have set out, but we definitely felt all the prayers from our friends and family on that trip. Then, we crossed the state line and roads were clear again! Phew!
So to recap: a harrowing trip over a frozen tundra, two sick kids, and surgery. What a combo. We made it a little bit late but I had been updating the clinic the whole time, plus it turns out there were several no-shows that day due to the weather, so they were able to get us in and taken care of. (Shriners staff are incredible and so understanding, we will forever love them for what they’ve done for us and our son!)
I finally relaxed a bit. A technician removed his casts, we gave him a bath, and then she applied a numbing cream to his heels and we were sent to the lobby to wait 30-45 minutes.
It was so strange to sit there and hold him in my arms without the bulk of those stiff casts, and to see more of those sweet little toes for a change. Jonas promptly fell asleep after nursing and I enjoyed a little bit of calm while my husband took our daughter to the cafeteria for some lunch.
Then the doctor came out to take him in for the procedure. I said a silent prayer he wouldn’t be too miserable. It was a matter of fifteen minutes before a technician came back out to bring us back for the casting. The doctor was rocking him, and he was still asleep! She said he had cried some but not as much as babies usually do, and clearly he wasn’t too traumatized because he was snuggled up in her arms. What a reassuring sight!
The hardest part is what came next. Putting on plaster for casting isn’t painful in and of itself, but watching him scream while the doctor stretched his foot into position while it dried was heartbreaking. I was right there keeping him calm, but I could tell it was painful for him, despite the numbing cream and shots. His doctor explained there’s only so much the anesthetic can do when you’re manipulating and stretching like that.
It’s hard to stay strong for your little ones sometimes, but you have no choice, so you hold them and let them cry.
The casting was brief though, as usual, and soon he was fast asleep again. We wrapped him up into his car seat, scheduled our follow-up appointment, and headed to a nearby hotel to spend the rest of the evening. (No way were we heading back on those roads in the dark!)
The night was rough; being out of the normal routine makes for a fun bedtime with a toddler… but Jonas did quite well all things considered, and the next morning, when we got home and were able to relax again, he was all smiles.
This kid! In fact, you would never know he’s had a minor surgery since then. His nights have been pretty much the same as usual, he’s had some fussiness at times, but truly, it’s incredible how resilient babies are. I am so glad we did push through to make it happen last week, because this week we were hit with Snowmageddon 2017 and there’s no way we could’ve made it. I’m glad I was able to hunker down at home with our sweet children and just wait it out, waiting for Jonas’ feet to heal and regenerate.
And that 90° angle? That’s a normal foot position. It’s the first time his feet have ever been able to reach this position. After three weeks with this cast, if all has gone well, we will be DONE with casting, and his little feet will be fully corrected! Then, it will be on to bracing to prevent relapse for the next few years. In the meantime, we are loving NOT having any more weekly trips to the clinic. Here’s to new feet for a new year!