May 21, 2010

Ainsley's Spica Cast Removal

Toward the end of having the spica cast Ainsley was READY to get out of it! She started lifting herself up in it and even pushed herself across the dining room floor the night of the 17th.

At the appointment Tuesday the 18th. We are so excited to get out of the cast and get back into regular clothes. This is Evie's dress (The first time they shared clothes. Ahhhh!) We've been wearing the same 3 dresses for 6 weeks. 

Unfortunately when we were finally called back we still had to wait. Radiology and Dr. S were both behind schedule. Two hours we waited in the cast removal room for the first x-ray to be taken. Talk about boring. Ainsley actually watched TV which she doesn't normally do.

Uh-oh this could be dangerous, although really I'd be fine if she developed a liking for Dora.

Normally they walk you straight back for the x-ray. I'm not sure why there was a 2 hour wait this day. Ainsley developed a fear of radiology after the gastric emptying scan she had when they strapped her to a rotating paddle. She now hates the radiology room! They wanted an x-ray in the cast to make sure things look good before they would remove it.
Here is a full glimpse of the spica cast we've lived with for the past 6 weeks.

Here the tech is cutting it off with a special saw that can cut the cast but can't cut skin. Still, it's loud and to little kids it's still scary. By the time they were ready to take hers off there was a full house and it was loud and many others had gone before us. So to say she was terrified is an understatement. 

It was hard to watch. Even though she wasn't in any pain and held our hands tight the entire time. I wish I could say it ended when the cast came off but she kept this up on and off until we left.

He was so fast I could barely get pictures. He used this spreader to separate the two halves of the cast.

Here you can better see where the cast was cut in two halves.

Then they cut off the inner liner.

Finally her legs are exposed. They look yellowish from sweat when she slept.

After the cast was removed we met with Dr. S for a few minutes. He brought up the x-rays and showed us. They looked good. The one side looks better than the other still but he hopes that the cartilage (which doesn't show on x-rays) will fill in around her left femur and eventually turn to bone, increasing the hip socket. The hope is if that happens she won't need further surgery in the future. She may need to have the plates removed from her legs if they causes her pain. If you want to see x-rays of her hips see this post and click on the picture to enlarge it.

Then they fitted her with a brace and then did another x-ray in the brace to make sure her hips where in position. It's a little different from the brace we had after the last spica cast when she was a year old. Her muscles are stiff and it seems to be painful. Getting her in and out of this brace for diaper changes has been a two person job and worse even than double diapering in the spica cast.

The doctor's goal for us is to wean her out of the brace over the next 2-3 weeks so that she is eventually only using it when she sleeps during the next 6 weeks, until we get the okay to resume normal activity in July. So each day we take her out of the brace for periods of time so she can try moving her legs as tolerated. Sometimes she needs to be put back in the brace because she'll otherwise move her leg into a position that causes pain and she is afraid to move it, so she gets "stuck".  Poor kid. This is the tough part of this surgery, the recovery.

After 4 hours were were finally  done and on our way home. They scheduled this appointment for us on Steve's birthday and I never bothered to change it. My birthday was spent in the hospital the day after this surgery. Steve had been planning to come but caught a cold (not good for sick kids) and didn't come. Luckily so. They were so late I had to have him leave work to meet the kids off the school bus. Wow! We didn't expect that to take so long!

We were surprised she wasn't happier to be out of the cast. This is a pretty good shot of the brace.

When we got home we gave her a nice bath. After 6 weeks, I couldn't wait. Surprisingly the bandages were still stuck. I opted to soak them off in the tub.

The leg incisions looked good. The discoloration here is pen marks and glue. She's got 4 nice good sized new scars to add to her collection. We gave her skin a nice slathering of lotion and put her in her jammies.
We had a nice dinner for Steve's birthday. Opened presents and then had cake. We were a little behind schedule with the cast removal taking up a huge focus of the day but it worked out okay. Sadly as you can see here Ainsley wouldn't even turn her head to look at us for the rest of the night.
But by the next day she was happier. Dr. S wants us to work up to sitting up. And sure enough the next day she used the wheelchair to push herself into a semi-sitting position. It's been a tough week and its going to be a tough recovery but we knew that going into this and I'm sure she'll get there it's just going to take time.


  1. Awesome post! She is such a trooper, but yopu gotta hand it to her for not looking the entire night, not even for a birthday smile. Oh and heck ya...I don' blame you for not rescheduling the removal you were in the hospital on YOUR birthday, all is fair in love and war. Plus I am sure she wanted it off as much as you did!

  2. Awww Susan it kind of breaks my heart.
    I like her stubborn not look at anybody that is exactly what Gage does, even when we give him trouble. I like this also because when they're older who the heck is going to push our children around?! Ummmm no one!

    Look at her the next day trying to sit up!
    Just like the trooper that she is!
    Ainsley I just really love you and your spirit!

    Hugs and all the love in the universe,

  3. wow what a long day!!! it was so good to see you guys at th hospitl that day!! nice to see anisley smile so big too! she is lovely!!!!! We should get together soon!! congrats on being cast free and enjoy all the soft hugs!! they are my fave!!!~wyndi

  4. She looks great! Hope her recovery continues well :)

  5. I so feel for you and Ainsley. The pics of her crying are heartbreaking! Thank goodness she recovers quickly. I hope her legs get adjusted quickly so she can be brace free. Congratulations on the cast removal! And happy birthday to Steve!

    Much love,

  6. wow Susan, that cast was something else!! I couldn't believe my eyes! I was just pleased to see a happy Ainsley at the end. Wow. What an ordeal you all have been through. You are my hero, sister! And happy birthday to you and your hubby. xo _Kerry

  7. I'm so glad the cast is off! Yay! Although it was hard to see the pictures; she looked so miserable! So glad she was happier at the end.

    Oh--Happy Birthday too!

  8. what is in ainsley's neck?