Monday, April 20, 2009

Knee Braces and Wheelchairs: the CCS appointment, round 2

Starting your Spring break with a CCS clinic appointment isn't a great way to begin, and Queen Teen was not pleased. I had called CCS to ask about having her wheelchair adjusted because her knees are five inches past the seat. The facilitator said they had an opening at the next clinic and we should come. On Monday afternoon, the first day of vacation, we arrived at clinic, complete with hearing aids, knee brace, walker and wheelchair. Rick came too, ready to be my "bull-dog" if need be. I dreaded the appointment because I knew the doctor would push for the full leg to knee braces again, something we'd already decided against, and something I was tired of discussing.

The doctor watched her walk in and got that look on his face, the one that shouts disappointment and worry. Just once I'd like him to see HER and comment on her incredible strength and ability to walk at all, rather than focusing on the way her knees bend. I tried to feel patience by reminding myself that this doctor had driven three hours to see 20 kids in one day.

He examined her legs, twisting and turning them, and shook his head. Then he measured the hyper extended, backwards, bend of her left knee and shook his head even more. "Once it gets beyond 20 degrees she'll be in trouble."

I took a deep breath. "I know her knees are a problem, especially her left, and we are very concerned, believe me. But if we put full leg braces on a 14 year old girl who is already struggling with depression and poor self-image, it will crush her. I have to think about the whole child, not just her knees."

The doctor nodded. "It's a tough choice."

Rick explained how hard Queen Teen works. She remembers to do her exercises and feels proud of her ability to walk. Then he seconded how important it is to keep that spirit alive.

The doctor nodded some more.

Then the knee brace discussion began, but this time it felt like the doctor and therapists were listening to us, trying to come up with ideas to support Queen Teen's left knee without overwhelming her with braces. The bracing expert discussed the pros and cons of having the knee brace held up by an AFO. After several minutes of debate, I said, "Let's try it."

"I need to know you're going to do more than just try it, because it's a very expensive brace," the doctor said.

"We will do everything in our power to get her to wear it," I replied.

So the doctor agreed to order the brace. Queen Teen needs something to support that knee, and hopefully this knee brace will be tolerable; it feels like the right alternative to full, hip to toe, leg braces. We eventually won the war over the hearing aids, so perhaps we'll win the war of the knee brace too.

Queen Teen is getting a new wheelchair as well. Her current one is way too small and can't be adjusted anymore. She got to pick out the color (red) and seemed excited about getting a new chair.

One other bit of bad news though: I asked the doctor about Queen Teen's hands and how the fingers don't extend anymore. I wanted to know if therapy would help. He said no. She had hyper-extended her fingers and wrists as well and needed bracing to hold the fingers in the correct position.

Sigh... let's just do one bracing battle at a time.

The rest of Queen Teen's holiday was better, but still a bit boring. I'll write more about that next time.

1 comment:

Terri said...

It is so hard to balance the whole person with the medical needs--especially to the medical world! Bravo!

I tagged you for a motherhood meme if you are interested.