Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ortho Appointment

Well, crap.  There I went again, and got my hopes all up for something that wasn't to be.  Seems I do that a lot.  

So, it's FOUR MORE WEEKS in the cast!  And that was the worst case scenario!!!  We go back on May 24th to have it removed.  But, it gets better.  Here's how it will go down:

We will go up and they will cut the cast down both sides ("turtle shell" it).  They will remove it, and measure her for her custom made brace.  She will feel the cool air and freedom.  Then they will put the cast BACK ON and secure it in place.  We will come back home for two or three days (time for them to make the brace).  Then we will go back up to have the cast officially removed.  Again, she will feel the cool air and freedom.  Then they will put on her brace.  She will wear it during her waking hours for the next several months.  Yay us!  

I didn't ask, but I'm assuming the brace will allow her to bend at the waist.  Which will be a very welcome change!!!  I think she'll still be happy and relieved to have the cast gone as long as she can bend at the waist again.  

As far as how she is doing... her surgeon said that she is happy with how her x-rays looked today.  Here they are:

Before surgery: note how her hips are so uneven.

After surgery

And here they are side by side, which I think really shows the difference.


Wowza!  All of her crookedness was between her ribs and her hips.  In the Before photo, it looks like her spine is coming straight from her right hip!  It is pretty exciting to think about how she's going to look after this is all said and done.  It will be a welcome change to be able to actually see a positive change after a surgery.  And I bet it will feel really good to her!

Side view of the screws
Here is a copy of an image from her CT scan (which takes three dimensional photos, basically) before surgery, of course:


A close up of the two bottom areas that were abnormal:

Also, the reason why there is only one set of screws when she had two different areas fused is because the fusion in the upper area (butterfly vertebra) was done by modifying (shaving and cutting) the existing vertebrae and using bone grafts that will eventually heal and fuse together over time - without the need for screws.  She said that this will hopefully save some of her growth plates in that area, whereas the screws eliminate the growth plates in that area forever.

No new cast today, either.  A new cast would require OR time and anesthesia, and it's just not worth it.  So, they used the cast saw to cut away some areas of the cast that were particularly bothersome and/or dirty.  In the back, all the padding and soft border covering came off.  So, he did his best to make it better and more comfortable for her.

She was not a happy camper.  And Brandy got a work out trying to hold her still.  Gabe did the best he could, but she was far from cooperative!!! Harlie, not Brandy, I mean.  Brandy was very helpful and cooperative, as usual.

He also removed the gauze covering over her incision.  It was truly disgusting and a breeding ground for bacteria!!!  But, surprisingly the incision looked really neat and clean (meaning the cut) with no stitches that you could see.  She said the stitches were put underneath.  Crazy.  It was a relief to see that there is no infection.

So, that's that.  Four more weeks.  And three days.



Lil` Jonas Fan said...

Glad to see the the positive change since surgery. Sorry to hear the cast will be on for 4 more weeks. :(
hope the next 4 weeks (and three days!) go by quickly and smoothly

Ann said...

Christy - Jack's spinal fusion recovery about did me in too. His St. Louis ortho wanted him in the brace for 6 months! His Phoenix ortho let him out after 4. Jack wasn't mobile before the surgery, so he didn't miss that, but boy was it tough being in that brace for so long. No question, spinal fusion surgery is brutal. Hang in there and keep your chin up ... you can do it, yes you can! ( Picture me doing a cheer for you ... then, again, maybe not. I'm not exactly the cheerleading type :-)

Sandy said...

I am thrilled to see the pictures. 4 more weeks is a bummer, but what a difference.
Hang in there!!!

B-Mama said...

Harlie is a superstar. I am amazed seeing the xray and 3D pics. WOW! Her back is going to be SO much more comfortable when all is said and done. I'm really excited for her. This is such a positive step in the right direction.

Susan said...

I'm with Ann! You can do it, yes you can, if you can't do it no one can!

When Ainsley got out of her brace after wearing it for months (post-2nd spica cast) it was the happiest day of my life (almost). Keep your eye on the prize. She sure looks straight in the x-rays. And ehhhm, sorry to say but don't assume about the brace, make sure you know what you're in for. Also, the kids grow to feel kind of secure in their casts/brace and actually don't always like the feeling of it being removed immediately. So she might do better than you think when they do the changes especially if you explain what they are going to do ahead of time. Hugs.

Anonymous said...

Harlie is one tough little cookie. She is amazing that she can put up with all this and still smile. Big hugs and kisses to all. Love Ron and Sue