Monday, June 24, 2013

Casting Lefty Leg

Last week, we made the tough decision to cast Alex's bad leg. Due to his growth, and possibly his seizures, Alex's left leg has gotten much worse. Last week, his leg had turned so far inward that it was striking his right leg with every step. Alex really could not run anymore. We did a gait analysis through CT Children's Medical Center and it showed that there is one very misbehaved muscle, quite deep and strong, that is not growing as he grows. It is tight, and as is the case with CP, does not relax when he moves. If we leave it as it is, he will lose his ability to walk and run with ease. It simply won't grow as he grows. So, we cast it, and once that cast comes off, he will spend day and night in a very stiff brace. We are hoping to avoid surgery down the road to lengthen the muscle. The poor kid is hot and tired, but he never complains. He runs on his cast as though it isn't there. On the way out of the doctor's office, he said to me, "Well, Mumma, we have to look on the bright side. At least I'm not on crutches."

Snow White the Therapy Dog

After much research, we discovered that Alex is too young for an official seizure dog. Most organizations require kids to be between the ages of 7-12, mostly because there is a lot involved in the owner training and managing the dog. We have done the next best thing, which is to locate a puppy with all the characteristics one might want in a seizure dog, and to train her ourselves through the obedience levels up to therapy dog, while using some of the techniques to train her to respond to a seizure. Frankly we hope Alex never has another seizure so she may not have a chance to get that training. Snow White, who is white as snow, with black spots as dark as ebony, including one that is shaped like a heart on her back, and a tongue the color of a rose, sort of, is the snuggliest puppy we have ever had. Part bloodhound, she also has the best nose on her of any dog we have ever seen. She seems to feel a natural pull toward Alex, which most dogs don't. She sleeps in his room and as she matures, we plan to transition her to his bed, although we may have to buy a bigger bed. Her paws are enormous. She is not the runner dog that Harry Potter is, and that is fine. Potter, who is an amazing caretaker, has begun to tip us off that Alex isn't feeling well. Three times he sniffed Alex all over on mornings when Alex wasn't well...we think he can smell the body changes. We hope Snowy will be as helpful. As far as therapy goes, Snowy is already proving her worth in dog food. When Alex is frustrated, he often goes into his room and reads to Snowy, or pats her "magic ears" which are as soft as velvet. If you have a child with special needs, I recommend you get a dog. There is nothing like the non-judgemental character of a dog, who will listen to anything and serve up a load of love, to ease a child's frustrations. Although I need to vacuum up dog hair every day, I feel Snow White is an investment in Alex's mental and physical health. In fact, she's been good for all of us. I often catch Erik snuggled up with her watching late night TV on the couch. I can handle the extra dog hair.