So, as with many things about raising a kid with special needs, the serial casting turned out to be far less of an ordeal than I thought it was going to be. OK, getting Max to a hospital clinic once a week for four weeks wasn't exactly fun, but that was the worst of it. Max actually liked having the casts on and protested every time one had to come off. We removed each one ourselves the night before the next was due to go on. They were pretty easy to unravel.
The casts did not hamper Max's style in any way—just the opposite. First, they gave him good balance (much better than that in-turning right foot) so he could get around pretty quickly with them on. Ride a bike, even. Second, I could write "Max eats spaghetti sauce" on them with a purple Sharpie. I think that gave him an air of mystery. I'm Agent Purple Spaghetti Max. I like my spaghetti sauce stirred, not shaken.
The night we took off the last cast, while we were on vacation, Sabrina decided she was going to do the job.
Let me tell you, if I ever need critical care, I think I might turn to Sabrina. For all of her teasing and taunting of Max (and she is a master of it), she couldn't have been more gentle and loving when she unraveled the strips of material. And she didn't even bill him.
The next day, we headed to the hospital to have a night brace made. Max is going to wear one for the indefinite future, as he sleeps. We're also going to have to be more diligent about putting the foot braces (aka DAFOs) on him on weekends. He wears them during weekdays but on Saturday and Sunday, we used to give him a break. Not anymore, now that the cerebral palsy did a number on his right foot. We have to do everything possible to make sure that foot stays straight. Max's walking is a miracle to me every single day. He gets around so well. It would be devastating to see a miracle regress.
The amazing physical therapist who did the casting. Max laughed when she said her name: Ellen.
Amazingly, Max even let them put him on his stomach as they made the cast. He hates being on his stomach. He cried the entire previous time he had to do that. It helped to have Happy Feet on the DVD player.
They wrap strips of material around this rod, then cut down it to create a two-part cast you strap together with Velcro. The finishing touch: wrapping it in purple material. Max was beside himself with glee.
He literally did a Happy Feet dance.
Here's the finished brace. If Ralph Lauren ever decided to shoot an ad for serial casts, I suspect it might look something like this.
The serial casting did the job: His right foot is straight and staying flat on the ground when he walks. I watched it carefully all last week before Max went to camp, scared that I'd see it getting crooked again, but so far, so good. Max would wear the night brace all day if he could. He doesn't like the day ones as much, particularly because they are not purple and have a sports motif that has no air of mystery whatsoever.
If Max goes through another growth spurt that again messes up the tendons in his foot, he'll have to go through serial casting again. If that doesn't work, tendon lengthening surgery might be necessary. The words alone make me wince.
A few steps forward. Hopefully no steps back.