Sunday, July 3, 2011

The boy and the arm

This month has been so busy - and so blisteringly hot - that I totally neglected to post a report from the doctor who operated on Quinn's brachial plexus injury last year.

The good news is that Dr. Waters is very happy with Quinn's progress. He has almost complete "passive" use of his right arm - if someone moves it around for him - which is a good indication he'll have good "active" use as he gets stronger and stronger. We have to have him checked every year (a good excuse for an annual trip to Boston!) and there is always a chance he'll have problems when he has a growth spurt. The biggest challenge is that he continues to favor the right arm quite strongly, so we need to work on that. We worked with Dr. Waters' physical therapist to tweak his twice-daily exercises, and we learned that he'll probably never be able to reach behind his back with his right arm because the tendon that does that is one of the tendons they transferred to give him the ability to lift and rotate his arm. A good trade-off, I think.

So the news was good. But the visit itself? Not so much. We had a longish wait, during which Quinn was quite angelic, playing games happily in the waiting room. But the minute we went into the examination room - the same one he was in that horribly traumatic day last year that his cast was sawed off - he pretty much freaked out. The physical therapist came in right away, and he cried every time she looked at him. He wouldn't let her touch him, he wouldn't do anything she asked and he kept either hiding behind the curtain separating the room into half or hurling himself on the floor. Then he started spinning uncontrollably. Not a good scene. Eventually, the PT gave up and left the room. It wasn't until then that it hit me: Pull out the puzzles. Thankfully, that worked as well as it always does and Quinn sat on the floor happily doing his puzzles, even after Dr. Waters came in. In fact, when he wanted Quinn to lift his arm or reach in a particular direction, he just held up a puzzle piece. Worked like a charm. Surprisingly, Dr. Waters knew a ton about sensory processing disorder and we talked a lot about how to integrate his treatment and his arm exercises. My goodness, how grateful I am for that man.

In short, the visit got better, we learned what we wanted to learn, and we left and had a good rest of the day. But the next morning as were eating breakfast, I noticed that Quinn - who is NEVER cold - was shivering. And he was not eating, which is equally odd for him. I thought maybe he was sick, and then it hit me what was wrong. I bent down, looked right in his eyes and told him he didn't have any doctor's visits that day. Boom. New kid. He started chattering away, ate his breakfast, put on his shoes and announced he was ready to get on with the day. I just felt horrible. I knew that we were finished, but it didn't even dawn on me that he didn't know that. Poor little guy was just plain terrified. Definitely not one of my best moments in parenting...

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