Spica Cast Tips

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This post is very specific to parents who have a child in a Spica Cast.  So definitely feel free to skip this blog post if you’re not interested.   🙂  But I wanted to share some spica cast tips with anyone who might benefit from them!

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YOUR CHILD WILL ADJUST… QUICKLY!

Children are shockingly tough, and they bounce back so unbelievably fast.  When Brady first had the spica cast put on, he had just turned two years old.  There was no way to make him understand why his leg was now bound for five weeks.  That devastated me the most…  That I couldn’t explain to him that this wouldn’t be forever and that it was for the best.

But I really was in awe of his resilience.  He found the will to smile.  To crawl a bit and pull that heavy cast behind him.  He even learned how to stand up and hobble around with the help of furniture.  (I’ve heard that some kids even learn to walk while in the cast)!

His great attitude and ability to smile and laugh – despite everything – filled me with such pride, to be honest!

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YOUR CHILD WILL FORGET THIS EXPERIENCE

This won’t comfort you much in the midst of it, but know that your child won’t remember any of this.  Brady has been out of the spica cast for just 4 months, and he’s running around like the broken leg never happened.  And he doesn’t remember the boo boo, the cast, the pain, or the hospital stay.

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PAIN MANAGEMENT

When we first came home from the hospital, we had been instructed to give Brady children’s Tylenol every 8 hours.  He was in SO much pain and miserable… and with good reason.  If I broke a bone, I’d definitely be given something stronger than Tylenol!

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I ended up using this chart and rotating Tylenol and Motrin (with approval of my Pediatric doctor, of course).  We’d alternate the medicines, so he’d have Tylenol every 8 hours but Motrin every 8 hours as well.  So every 4 hours, he was receiving a dose of something.  I noticed a huge reduction in his pain at that point, and he was definitely much more comfortable.  It also allowed me to hold him (which was super awkward, but definitely necessary for both of us).

So during that first week or so, if the doctor tells you to give your little one Tylenol every 8 hours, I’d definitely ask if they’re okay with you doing the Tylenol and Motrin rotation!

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DIAPER CHANGES

I kind of wish I had taken pictures, because it’s hard to describe – in words – the tips I discovered for changing a diaper around a Spica Cast.  This blog post that I found on Pinterest DOES include pics though, and I’d say that it’s almost exactly how I did it.  (Right down to using two diapers… AND a cool-setting hair dryer to help dry the cast when Brady peed through a diaper).  So if you want diaper changing tips, definitely check out that blog post.

Trust me, it gets easier!  In the beginning, I dreaded diaper changes SO much.  But by week two or three, I was a pro.

CAST MAINTENANCE

Keeping the cast dry was tricky at times, because Brady peed through his diaper a LOT overnight.  (Towards the end, I started to set an alarm to change his diaper in the middle of the night to help with that).  But the moisture, along with the chaffing as he moved, definitely started to irritate his skin in places.  My cousin Jill sent me Pure Haven Essentials baby powder to rub into his skin to help reduce friction along the edges of the cast, and it definitely helped!

CLOTHES

Brady wore shirts that were a size or two bigger than the size he was in (that way it would fit over the chest portion of the cast).  And for the legs, I purchased comfy sweatpants that were a size or two bigger.  I just cut off one of the legs, so that it fit the cast better.  (Also, the cast is so warm that he didn’t need the extra fabric).

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ACTIVITIES

One of the hardest things was keeping a VERY energetic toddler occupied while being so restricted.  (Also, since I was pregnant, lugging him in and out of the special carseat was just too much.  Brady was already ridiculously heavy, but that cast added a lot of weight.  So other than occasionally going to visit my parents or inlaws with my husband, we were home a lot).  Had it been summer, we probably would have gone out more and just pushed him in a carriage or wagon.  But unfortunately for us, it was winter and quite cold.

Here are some of my favorite recommendations for fun in a spica cast.

— Peg Board Sets

Lauri Tall-Stacker Pegs & Pegboard Set

— Melissa and Doug Felt Food Sets

— Sensory Water Beads for Kids

Water Beads for Kids, Ultra Durable Special Needs Toys, Sensory Toys 8000 ct

— Playdough Supplies and Kits

Play-doh Cake Making Station Playset

— Melissa and Doug Wooden Puzzles

Melissa & Doug Farm Wooden Chunky Puzzle (8 pcs)

— Lacing Beads

OR use ziti macaroni and make macaroni necklaces!

— Dance Scarves

Granted, official dancing is out of the question.  BUT your child can have fun waving these scarves in tune to upbeat music.  It’s a great arm workout, and my little guy loved it.

Carykon 24" Hemmed Square Juggling & Dance Scarves for Creative Childhood Play Magic Show Ornament Hairstyle, 6 Colors, 12Pcs

– And don’t underestimate the fun of playing with fresh fruit!  🙂

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IVY ROSE SPICA CAST CHAIR

If your child is going to be in – or is already in – a spica cast, I 100% recommend purchasing an Ivy Rose Spica Cast Chair.  No, scratch that…  I 200% recommend it.  Or I basically can’t recommend it enough.

When the spica cast was first put on Brady, the chair was suggested to me by several family members and blogger friends who had read about it.  At the time, I couldn’t see spending about $250 on an item that we’d use for 5-8 weeks, so I talked myself out of buying one.  Two days later, my parents and sister offered to purchase the chair for us, and I very eagerly said “yes”.  I needed help by that point, and I was desperate.  Cost was no longer and option!!

Up until then, we had kept Brady propped up with a beanbag and a pillow under his cast for support.  After days of lying on his back, he was definitely over it.  Also, mealtime was very scary, as he had to eat at such an incline.  Kids in spica casts do experience a huge drop in appetite, but – still – they do eat.  And I was terrified of him choking.

The Ivy Rose Spica Cast Chair is built specific to a child’s height… as well as their cast measurements and type.  So it fits perfectly.  It comes dissassembled, but my hubby had absolutely no issues with putting it together.  Also, I was shocked at how quickly it arrived!  I’m talking days.  

I literally did a happy dance the first time Brady sat in his new chair.  He could actually sit.  It was SUCH a win for us and put us all in a much better state of mind.  For the first time in days, I felt like we could actually survive this experience.

Brady was able to now eat all of his meals sitting up.  He was also able to color and do crafts.  And when children came to see him, he was able to feel more a part of the environment, instead of being forced to lie down in the corner.  (Also, the other side of the tray is chalkboard, so he had SO much fun drawing on it)!!

It was the BEST purchase we could have made, and I can’t recommend it enough.  The entire experience was an amazing one.

 

CASTAWAY DAY!

You will count down the days (minutes and seconds too) until that awkward, smelly, heavy, cumbersome cast comes off your little one.  That goes without saying!  BUT why not make that much anticipated day extra special by turning it into a celebration?

Keep in mind that it will take time (and potentially Physical Therapy) before your child can walk, even without the cast.  Their leg muscles will be weakened from the weeks of inactivity.  (I remember that Brady did stand up that first day, but his leg gave out quite quickly.  He screamed, and I was SO scared that he had hurt himself again.  But the doctor said that happens almost every time and not to worry.  Sure enough, Brady was fine).

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Keep the celebration simple… but special.  Make your child’s favorite meal and dessert.  Pick out a fun movie to watch together.  Give them a long bubble bath.  (Trust me, they’ll need it)!  And invest in some good-quality lotion, because the skin on their legs and chest will be rough.   My cousin Jill sent me a sugar scrub that I could mix with a kid’s body wash or lotion to help lightly exfoliate his skin.

We even let Brady unwrap a few presents for the occasion.  It was definitely a fun way to say ‘goodbye’ to that horrible cast!

REMEMBER…  IT’S NOT FOREVER!

The cast WILL come off!  Take it one day at a time!!  You can get through this.  And you will!!!  xoxo

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Castaway Day!

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It’s gone…  After a two night hospital stay, after desperately cleaning pee out of the cast as best I could nearly every morning, after praying for no leak-throughs before changing every poopy diaper, after long days of attempting to keep a two year old occupied, after having to watch my little boy struggle to pull himself around on the floor, after five of the longest weeks that I have ever experienced…  The spica cast is GONE!

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I woke up Thursday morning feeling possibility giddy.  Like it may as well have been Christmas, New Years, and my birthday all rolled into one.  I couldn’t have stopped smiling if I wanted to, which is okay since Nate had the same grin on his face.  And although Brady didn’t quite understand the concept of getting his cast removed, our excitement was contagious!

The Green Monster was coming off!!

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Honestly, his getting the cast removed was a million times easier than I had thought it would be.  A nurse walked in with a video of Curious George, and that’s really all it took.  We told him that the loud machine running over his cast was just a vacuum, and he focused on his favorite monkey.  I had really thought he’d be hysterical, but George saved the day once again.

I was beyond shocked… but also relieved.

He did cry when the cast was removed, and he stretched his leg for the first time though.  His muscles were obviously very sore from having been restricted for so long, and I’m sure the bone itself is still painful at this point.  But thank goodness, his skin looked really good (no rashes), and the X-rays showed that his leg had healed nicely.

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The doctor told us that it could take weeks before he started to walk, so his advice to us was to take things slowly.  I wasn’t frustrated by that in the least…  One of the things I missed the most over these past few weeks was holding him.  Really holding him.  The cast always got in the way, and it was impossible to snuggle very well.  Holding him for real felt absolutely amazing!  (Plus he was a lot lighter without the cast; and he could now bend, which meant he’d be able to sit up normally).

The minute we got home, I let Brady have his long-awaited bubble bath.  (The skin on his leg was super peely, so I also lathered him up really well with lotion.  My cousin had sent me some awesome Pure Haven products to use, which really did come in handy.  But more on that in a future blog post).  🙂

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Then we watched cartoons (Curious George, of course) and prepared for his Castaway party!  (My dad had come up with the clever name for a party to celebrate casting away the restrictive cast.  And we all had Christmas presents for him that we’d been unable to give him when he was in the cast.  So it was definitely reason to celebrate).  I decided to make the night extra special with two of his favorite foods:  chicken pot pie and cake.

Oh gosh, the cake…  It was the saddest looking cake I have ever made.  LOL!  But I didn’t want to take the time to decorate it perfectly, because that was time that I couldn’t spend with my little guy.  So everything got plopped together, and my alien cake was sad looking yet very delicious.

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Here are some recaps from the day!  🙂


 

I plan to do a Spica Cast survival blog post with some tips I learned along the way, but if any of you have specific questions that you’d like me to answer, leave them in the comment section!  

Up…Up… And Away!

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Poop.  I was searching in the dark for lost poop.  This, my friends, is what my life had become.  I had reached an all-new low, and I wondered – for a moment – if there was any coming back from this.

But first, let me start from the beginning…

My two-year-old son is in a Spica cast due to a broken Femur.  The story doesn’t fit the trauma of the injury and healing process.  He fell to the kitchen floor during playtime while trying on one of my husband’s shoes.  The end result was a trip to the ER, a two-night hospital stay, and 5-6 weeks in a body cast that doesn’t allow him to sit up or walk.

My poor baby boy was traumatized by the entire situation and spent the first few nights back home sleeping in bed with me and my husband.  I was scared to death of touching him, moving him… and of changing his diaper.  I was especially  terrified of poop.  The doctor had thought that it would be entertaining –  or helpful –  to tell us stories of toddlers who needed their casts completely redone, because poop had exploded up through their diaper into the inside of their cast.

Thank you for that image, Doc.  

Because of this, I was almost relieved that Brady was very constipated for his first bowel movement.  It was 3am in the morning; and he woke me and Nate up, asking for a cup of juice.  That’s when I smelled ‘it’ and sent Nate to get the juice while I tackled the diaper in the dark.  I’m not exaggerating… I was so freaked out about getting poop on the cast that I was sweating and basically lamaze breathing as I undid the diaper.

But then I realized that the poor kid had pushed out a hard, golf ball of poop.  I made a mental note to buy prune juice just as I breathed a sigh of relief at how easy it would be to clean up.

Okay, maybe not.  Brady decided to twist and kick in that moment.  He might as well have shouted “FOUR!”  That ball of poop took flight and landed… somewhere.

I just sat there, stunned, staring at the now-empty diaper.  Like seriously, does this actually happen in real life?  I squinted my eyes and tried to see better in the darkness, but I didn’t see the poop ball in the immediate area around us.  So I started pulling back the sheets a bit.  And then, as I searched and tried to keep my toddler from wriggling away, it hit me.  I had lost a hard lump of poop in our bed.

The hysterical laughter that hit me immediately afterward mixed with sobs.  I really wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry, so I laugh-cried.  (Totally a thing).  It was 3am, I was exhausted, there was a now wide-awake toddler lying naked on my bed, and I was looking for lost poop.

This.  This is what my life had come to.

It’s not that I ever imagined the mommy life as being glamorous; but – let’s face it – we all hope that we’ll turn into that mom who miraculously holds it all together.  You know, the June Cleaver of moms who manages to place a warm meal onto the table every night, while keeping a tidy home, looking effortlessly glamorous, and still finding the time for reading with her husband every night.  They just don’t make them like that anymore.

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This is more my reality these days.

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Spica-cast inspired melt-downs…  Tears…  Frustration…  And lost poop.

In the end, the flying poo turned up on Nate’s side of the bed.  (At 2 years old, Brady is already quite athletic.  Move over, Tiger Woods).  In my exhaustion, I briefly wondered if I could just grab it with a baby wipe and then wait to tell Nate the story in like 30 years from now.  But even if I’m no June Cleaver, I am very clean, hygienic, and humane, so I sighed in defeat and realized the diaper change had now turned into a sheet change.  Unfortunately, after waiting for a diaper change and a bed-sheet change, there was no going back to bed for the little guy.

That’s okay, sleep and morning showers are totally overrated, so early morning cartoons it was.

As we snuggled in bed and watched Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Brady gently cupped my face in his hands as if he wanted to keep me as close as possible.  Every once in awhile, he’d whisper “Mama” and then look up at me with his big eyes, as though to make sure that I was still there.  (It’s something he has done quite frequently since our stay at the hospital).  And I was reminded that even if the mommy life is far from glamorous (and that it does stink at times… literally), it is sweet.  And beautiful.  And precious.

Our little ones make it worth it, each and every day.  Because the love we have for them is unexplainable and unstoppable, even if it sometimes leaves us looking for lost poop at 3am.

 

 

Christmas Shopping… Done!

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Since coming home from our two-night stay at the hospital, I’ve been busy shifting around our crazy schedule into one that has been wiped clean.  Getting Brady around isn’t going to be an option for me, as his cast is heavy and cumbersome.  So I guess you could say that the next six weeks are going to be a staycation with a toddler in a lime green Spica cast.

Makeup is optional.  Yoga pants a must.  Travel by wagon…  Well, is there any other way to get around?  Even a poor little dude with a broken leg can’t resist giggling (and smiling from ear-to-ear) when the mode of transportation is a red, Radio Flyer.

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I wish I could say that I just shrugged off the cancellation of our fun, upcoming holiday plans with ease; but to be completely honest, I had to let myself have a bit of a pity-party today.   Although I always search for the humor and positive side of things, I don’t always jump to that conclusion automatically.  Sometimes, I have to let myself be pulled – kicking and screaming -to the place where I can find laughter or a reason to be thankful.

Need some parenting humor to help you laugh about the hardest job on earth? I round up all the funny parenting memes full of quotes from real parents to help you laugh and find the humor in raising our kids.":

 

I mean, I was totally okay with having to reschedule a dentist appointment.  (It’s not like I flossed as promised anyway).  And I can live with the fact that piano lessons are going to be half days in January (although it’s not ideal).  But then I started to get to all the fun plans we had scheduled over the next few weeks, and hitting the delete button was a bit tougher.

Okay, okay.  A lot tougher.

First, I had to come to the realization that Nate might not make it with me to our gender-reveal ultrasound on Thursday.  (And we definitely can’t make it to the dinner plans we had made to celebrate afterward).  Brady has special needs right now, and we wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving him with someone who hadn’t been trained in Spica cast care.

I had to cancel my Christmas shopping trip with my sister and a dinner date with a close friend.

We hope to make it to my family’s Christmas Eve party, but it all depends on how Brady is feeling.  We probably won’t make it to Nate’s side of the family on Christmas Day.  And none of Brady’s toys are appropriate for a little boy in a cast, so we have to put them aside to give them to him after Christmas (as apposed to the special, energetic Christmas morning we had planned).

And then I took a celebrity look-alike quiz on Facebook, and my result was Hilary Clinton.  (Okay, so that last thing is completely unrelated, but being compared to a 69 year old politician wasn’t the highlight of my day.  Kick me when I’m down, Facebook.  Kick me when I’m down).

I had to regroup a bit today.  I had to let myself feel sad for just a bit, acknowledging the fun plans that I had to let go of.  (If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that burying one’s feelings and ‘pretending them away’ doesn’t work).  Then I had to take a deep breath and decide to focus on the good things that can come with the change of plans.

After all, I am very much Type A.  I love to create plans and lists.  If anyone can make these next few weeks special by creating replacement memories, I can!

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I think I can…  I think I can…

I know I can!

And I decided to start right away with my Christmas shopping.  I originally had planned to finish my Christmas shopping on Thursday, but instead spent the evening at the hospital with Brady and Nate.  I realized this morning that I still had gifts to buy…  Granted, I didn’t have too much to buy this year.  Finances are a little tight this year (with Nate just starting the school bus driving job), so I could only afford to buy for family.  But still, I hadn’t bought Nate his gifts yet (sheepish grin), I had a Yankee Swap gift to pick up, there were a few odds and ends to grab, and I needed to pick up a few things for Brady.

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Thank goodness for Amazon Prime’s two-day free shipping!!!  While Brady napped, I finished my shopping in the comfort of my own home.  (There’s something to be said for that…  It’s a lot less crowded.  Browsing isn’t as rushed.  You don’t have to feel embarrassed by your chipped nail polish.  And the hot cocoa is a lot cheaper, even if you do have to wash your own mug afterward).

I’m going to make the best of these next six weeks, even if they will be different than planned!  Take that, Spica cast.  Take that!  This Type A mama has got this!

I mean, look at me go!  I finished my Christmas shopping, and it’s not even Christmas Eve yet.  🙂

 

Perspective

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Brady fractured his leg on Wednesday night at 6pm…  The cast wasn’t put on until about 4pm on Thursday.  The waiting game between those two time frames was brutal, especially since nurses continued to tell us that there was no guarantee they’d be able to squeeze him in that day.  The realization that a cast might not be put on until Friday was almost too much to stand.

We were told that the procedure had to take place in an operating room, as Brady would have to be asleep for the cast to be done.  So no food or drink for him until afterward.

As I suspected, Brady woke up that morning, looked around the hospital room in confusion, and then asked for a “Tumi.”  (His word for “smoothie”).  I nodded and said, “Okay!  In a few minutes.  We just need a doctor to fix your boo boo.”

An hour later, he was asking for “juice” and “gween popsicles”.  The asking turned to begging.

“Pwease, Mama.”

“I sorry,” he said at one point.  (Bah, I couldn’t handle it).

It stabbed me in the heart every time.  His lips were dry.  He’d just gotten over a fever and was obviously very thirsty.  And here I was denying him the one thing that would make him a bit more comfortable.  (I mean, on top of this, he was lying in the bed with a broken leg that had yet to be placed in a protective cast).

All they were giving him for pain meds was Tylenol every 6 hours.  When I asked for a higher dose or something stronger, a doctor refused my request.

By noon, Brady was begging and crying every ten minutes (I’m not exaggerating at all) for a popsicle, milk or juice.  The nurses decided to give him an IV, but they missed both times.  So the end result was a frightened, dehydrated toddler who had been stuck with a needle twice.  They tried again an hour later, and I had to hold him down while he begged, “Mama, all done!  Mama, all done!”

A nurse matter-of-factly said, “Well, he’s not too dehydrated, because he can still cry tears.”  I wanted to slap her.

They were successful that time in getting the IV into his little hand.  But it was one of several times that day that I just broke down and cried.  I couldn’t bear it.  I couldn’t watch it anymore.  But I couldn’t make it all better, like I was supposed to be able to do.

It was around that point that I had to leave the room, because I didn’t want my sobs to scare Brady.  One of the nurses (an amazing woman who I absolutely loved) followed me and directed me to a play room not far away.  “Take a few minutes off to just breathe,” she whispered to me, “and I’ll call the doctors again to see if there’s an update as to when they’ll take Brady.”

It was in the playroom that I met another mom.  She was sitting on one of the couches while her little boy – a handsome red head – played with blocks.  She made sure that I was okay, and we exchanged small-talk.  It came out that her little boy had been diagnosed with leukemia the week before and was going to have to come back to the hospital twice a week for chemo.

I was floored.  You see families on television talking about how cancer has shattered the normal lives of their children, but I’ve honestly never spoken to a mom facing it.  Her strength and resolve and hope inspired me.  But at the same time, my heart broke in two.  For her and for her child.

It was one of several times that I came face-to-face with the ugliness that sometimes plagues the lives of families.  I overheard a doctor talking with another physician, warning him that a 17 year old patient didn’t yet know he had cancer.  I heard a father talking on the phone, describing the condition of his teenage son who had been nearly killed in a devastating car accident.  I saw a teenage girl who was missing an eye and hooked up to a bag of chemo.

It didn’t make seeing Brady suffer any easier.  Not at all.   But it reminded me that I should count my blessings,because in six weeks Brady’s Spica cast will come off.  And then he will be able to run and play again (after a bit of exercise and potentially physical therapy).  His struggle will be a long one for him, because he doesn’t understand what’s happening.  But he’s not fighting for his life.

We are blessed!

I cried when they finally wheeled Brady’s little body into the operating room, and I had to sit behind in the waiting room.  I cried when I walked into recovery, and he looked up at me with pale face and lips.  I cried when the nurse offered him a popsicle (the popsicle he had been waiting for all day), and he replied, “Okay, let’s do it!”

I cried when I saw the restrictive, Spica cast that he will be forced to wear for 6 long weeks.

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I cried a LOT that day!

But staying in that hospital did put everything into perspective for me.  And it has filled me with a renewed thankfulness for the blessings I have… and a greater determination to fiercely pray for those who are facing the unimaginable.

Six weeks is a long time for a little boy to not be able to walk or sit up.  (And it’s a long time for a mama to deal with caring for a toddler in a Spica cast, although more on that lovely green monster in a blog post later on).  🙂  But I will help him take this a day at a time.  And we’ll all get through this together!