Spica Week 18: Goodbye Spica Cast!
After one last hurrah cleaning up a disastrous poop blowout in the spica this week, at long last, the day finally came to take Londyn to the Children’s Hospital for her cast cutoff. I felt a mixture of euphoria and anxiety as we drove there, unsure of how she’d react to the cast being cut off, or even just to being free. Would she be in pain? Would she be able to move?
We waited awhile for our appointment (after 18 weeks, what’s an extra half hour? Just kidding- it was frustrating!) When they finally called us, we went right to the cast room and the cast technician came in and told Londyn, “Oh, I’ll get that thing off of you, sweetie.” Then he looked at me and read my nervous expression perfectly, telling me calmly, “This is no big deal. We’ll get her out fast.” True to his word, this wonderful cast technician cut the spica off of her in probably 2-3 minutes. She cried, but Kyle and I were right there and she kept looking at our faces and pausing her screaming at times. When they were done cutting the hard outside of the cast, they used bandage scissors to cut the cotton and gortex linings off of her. Little by little, I started to see that sweet round belly, and then those still chubby legs! YAY! I was so happy that her legs were not visibly atrophied. However, I do have to note, I was surprised by the stench of my child. I am really big on keeping my babies clean, but obviously there’s only so much you can do with a spica cast. Thankfully the cast techs handed us a bucket of soapy water and blankets and told us we could bathe her before her x-ray. Her skin was dry and felt course and rough; nothing like a baby’s skin should. We cleaned her up and put a diaper on her but she was still pretty upset. I asked the nurse if she was in pain and she said it’s likely she’s uncomfortable, sore, and scared from the cast saw. When we picked her up she just melted into us, in a way that is impossible with a spica cast on, and brought tears to both mine and Kyle’s eyes. If you have babies who are not casted right now, don’t ever take their snuggles for granted! They are just amazing!
We had to bring her directly to radiology where she had a quick X-ray of her hips, and then we were back in the cast room waiting to see our orthopedic surgeon. While we waited, Londyn calmed down and started looking at her legs with bewilderment. She leaned over and felt them all the way down, finally reaching her socks with a look of accomplishment! I loved witnessing this sweet moment, and especially knowing how much more joy awaits her as she begins to discover the world around her unhindered!
Our ortho came in and showed us her x-ray results, which were exactly what we had hoped. He showed us where each of our three six-week periods in the spica had resulted in brand new bone growth of her hip socket. Her femur head is nicely engaged in the socket and has progressed wonderfully from her original x-ray. Londyn was fitted with a soft abduction brace, called a Rhino cruiser, which she is to wear anytime she’s asleep to keep her legs in a favorable position for further hip growth. But other than that, she is free to regain her mobility, growth and development for three months until our next x-ray!
I can scarcely believe that as I write these words, my baby is no longer in a spica cast. It is difficult to explain how it feels living for 18 weeks in a situation you cannot change and wish you could, unless you’ve been through something similar. We are fortunate in that the spica was always going to be temporary, while some people endure chronic hardships. The relief that flooded my body when I realized our weeks in the spica were finished rivaled the relief I felt when I finally finished nursing school! Every time I hold her it feels like a little bit of Christmas morning to have her soft, uncasted body back with me! There is so much joy.
The flip side is, we had a horrible night of sleep last night and Londyn is definitely stiff and uncomfortable today. She is very fussy and barely tolerates diaper changes due to the soreness of her legs. She has some significant skin breakdown on her hip which caused her first bath to be much less fun than I had hoped. I’m not sure how to hold her and even her core is quite unstable right now. I’m confident that all of these things will be corrected with time, and this is just another period of adjustment. However, I am hopeful that since this time we are adjusting to a more normal way of life, instead of adjusting to life with a spica, the transition will be naturally easier for all of us.
I will continue to use this blog to share the latest on Londyn and our family. This spica journey is over, but time will have to tell when our DDH journey ends. My deepest thanks to all of you who have prayed with us, reached out to us, and loved Londyn through her time in the spica. Thank you to all our friends and family from out of town who made the journey to come support us and learn how to hold a spica baby. Thank you to all of our local friends who brought us meals, visited us, prayed with us, said all the right things, and caught a glimpse of our spica life. Londyn is such a champion and we are thankful for our network of loving friends and family!
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