Seventeen years into mothering my amazing trio, we have faced more surgeries than I would have ever imagined. For children with Cerebral Palsy, most surgeries are needs but are not life or death situations. And yet, because of the fragility resulting from being born premature, no surgery is without risk.
We began walking this stressful road of surgeries around the trio's first birthday when Benjamin had eye surgery to correct his strabismus (crossing eyes). When he turned three we had to face it again:
May 10, 2000 -- "Today Benjamin's x-rays showed no signs of change in his hips. This is both good and bad news however. It is GREAT that they haven't gotten any worse. BUT we've really been treating him aggressively and we were hoping for an improvement. Since there was none, the doctor wants to consider surgery to release the tendons (loosen the muscles) in an effort to allow that hip joint to develop better. This surgery.....would require this increasingly active three-year-old to be in a hip and leg cast for 6-8 weeks, which would set him back in his walking, and possibly frustrate him terribly!...there is no clear answer if we SHOULD or SHOULD NOT do the surgery. Please pray that we will have an answer as to which direction to take."
Oh mercy, this 31 Day Writing Challenge is testing my resolve to finish what I start. I love looking through old pictures and I love reminiscing about the sweet things my beautiful trio have done over the years. But delving into the surgery-decision-making times physically hurts my heart.
Wade was in residency during these early days of our facing the challenges of special needs parenthood. Already in Orthopedics, we were both feeling strongly that he should specialize in pediatric orthopedics in order to help boys and girls like Benjamin and Mason. But with that calling, Wade was also feeling the stress of having to make decisions about his sons' treatment -- balancing doctor and daddy.
Decisions concerning Cerebral Palsy are rarely clear-cut. Will this surgery improve the child's chances of walking? Or if they walk will the surgery improve their gait? Will the surgery prevent painful joints later in life?
What surgeries for children with Cerebral Palsy can NOT do, is cure Cerebral Palsy. So no surgery is a "fix" -- every surgery is just a help. This can be hard for the patient, hard for the Mommy and hard for the Doctor/Daddy.
This three-year-old surgery was simply being done to try desperately to prevent another bigger surgery down the road -- or in Benjamin's case to stave off the surgery for as long as possible. (More on this in a later post.)
As painful, stressful and hard as every single decision has been in terms of Benjamin and Mason's care, I choose not to count the tears, not to count the heartache. No. Today I know that what counts, what really counts, is that my wonderful Wade has taken every thing he has learned in our decision-making processes and allowed that -- the tears, the recovery process, the outcomes -- to color his role as a pediatric orthopedic surgeon for children with Cerebral Palsy.