As I prepare to do a second St. Louis "drive by", I realize I haven't updated you on the first one. Life since last Sunday has been interesting to say the least and exhausting would be giving it to you straight up and without any sugar coating. Life is what it is these days but I'm happy to report that I've gotten two nights of at least 6 hours of sleep - IN A ROW! :)
We took off from home by 8 AM last Sunday and had a wonderful drive through the sunshine. We arrived at my Nana's house quite a bit earlier than we expected and I was privileged to have an chance to spend time talking with my cousin Elizabeth while she calmly worked on dinner in the kitchen. Over the next hour or so my cousins Dave and Kevin arrived, Elizabeth's husband Jason came and my Aunt Nancy and Uncle Mick showed up as well. Dave's son William also came over to greet the family and it was a good evening no matter how you look at it. Not only was it good to be sitting around Nana's table again, but seeing family I haven't seen in a long time was such a wonderful thing. And it provided just the diversion we needed as we faced our first visit to Dr. Dobbs the next morning.
Monday morning arrived bright and early. We got all of us up, fed, dressed, packed and back in the car by 7 AM St. Louis time. We arrived at Shriner's early and we were taken back to meet with a variety of Drs and nurses without much of a wait. By the time all was said and done, Dr. Dobbs felt that Laura's feet could be corrected by casting again and that he'd be putting on the first cast then. His plan is to cast her left, more difficult foot initially to stretch out her cavus and flatten her very high arch some. Then, next week he'd cut that cast off and start correcting her heel varus and in general, recasting to correct. On that same day he'll start the casting on her right foot, initially to stretch her cavus and flatten out her arch some, and then a corrective cast or two. I failed to ask whether a tenotomy will be necessary for one or both of her feet but I'm not sure he could have answered that then. I think he'll need to see how her casting goes.
We waited for awhile in the cast room with other parents. There were several infants just starting the casting process and one older boy who was about 15 mos old. He was in casts that were cut off and left without any new ones but I didn't catch why he was there. All in all, the other parents made the wait quite nice and we took a poll to see who had come the farthest. This past week we won. I wonder what next week will bring. :)
Dr. Dobbs, his Resident, his Fellow, his very kind Nurse Kristina and a group of other nurses and support staff entered the cast room a little after 11. What happened next can only be described as a well-oiled machine carrying out a familiar routine and easing any difficulties for children with tremendous talent. They had Laura plastered from her knee down quite quickly and the Dr. Dobbs left us while another group of nurses applied fiberglass over the plaster and took the cast up over her thigh in traditional Ponseti fashion. In just a few minutes, we were free to go. I was amazed at the obviously common routine. They really do have it down to a science there.
As soon as I made our appt for next week, we packed everyone back in the car and started home. We spent most of the day driving in obnoxious rain with Laura fussing because she was in pain. It is my opinion that her muscles were spasming and tylenol wasn't totally effective at helping. I think I'll plan better for her discomfort this weekend. She made an already difficult drive much more challenging and my heart ached for her.
By Thursday this week Laura was walking on the toe of her cast and getting around just fine here at home. I am working on getting a child's wheelchair for her for next week as we'll be in double casts and her movement will be much more limited. She is still very protective of her cast but I think she'll get over that as they progress.
Overall, I feel a bit like life is passing by in a fog again. With the two day drive by traveling combined with five days at home where we're trying to keep up with school work, the laundry and life in general, I think we might just miss preparing for Thanksgiving this year. I wonder what Christmas will be like, too. But I can't help but think that we're doing what is best for Laura and that makes it all worthwhile. If she can avoid surgery, and even avoid wearing any kind of insert/AFO/SMO/whatever as well, I'll be so thrilled I just might hug Dr. Dobbs harder than he's ever been hugged before. Well, okay. Perhaps I'll take his staff a bucket of our famous Caramel Corn instead, but you get the drift.
Dr. Dobbs is a calm, confident Doctor who really does have a heart for our kids feet. I know that we'll come out of this better than we went in, and for that I'm extremely thankful. My Mom and I are having a nice time catching up together and talking about all of the little things we don't always have time for. And the boys are enjoying the change in routine - at least for the time being, and the unlimited gameboy time they get in the car. I don't know how many times we'll be making this trip yet, but we'll be going for at least the next two weekends. Please continue to pray for wisdom for Dr. Dobbs as he treats Laura, and for safety and provision for travel for the rest of us. With gas at almost $3 a gallon, Christmas is going to be mighty slim this year. *sigh*