Sunday, 2 September 2012

Grace's 5th Surgery

    I remember being so very thankful that my then 3 year old Gracie "only broke her leg".  That same car accident caused the death of my oldest son, Gabriel.  Both Gabe and I ruptured our spleens in the accident, I was half an hour from bleeding to death.  For these reasons I was delighted that Gracie "just broke her leg".  In the years since we have learned a lot about broken bones.  I am still thankful that Gracie "broke her leg" instead of her spleen, but have discovered that it was not a simple broken leg.
    At the time of the accident, Gracie was sitting in a built-in car seat.  Rowan's car seat was beside her.  The impact of the collision caused Rowan's car seat to become wedged into Gracie's leg, breaking it.  She is actually very lucky, all things considered to still have her leg.  The car seat caused a crack in her growth plate.  I had no idea what a growth plate was, but was soon to find out how much havoc it can wreak.
The crack in the growth plate caused an accelerated growth in one side of her bone.  The result was that her leg looked like a boomerang.
    Grace had her first surgery to try to retard the growth when she was 4, just days before her first day of junior kindergarten.  Grace spent her first week of school in a wheel chair.   She was this tiny little blonde girl sitting in a wheelchair while all around her, her classmates played.  It broke my heart, but still I was thankful to have her.  Just before Christmas that same year (just a few months later) she had to go back in for more surgery.  The first surgery had been to put a staple in that would retard the bone growth.  The staple had come loose and was causing her a lot of pain. The second surgery was to remove the staple.  She would need some time to re-grow bone before she could go back for surgery number 3.
    Grace had only been 7 for a two months when surgery number 3 happened.  She was the first child in Canada to undergo that type of screw that would retard the growth.  The screw would not come loose.  Her   paediatric orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Daniel Borchneck is the most lovely doctor.  He is so kind spoken to the kids that he deals with, and equally kind spoken with those children's parents.  When he told me what he proposed, and that Grace would be the first child in Canada to receive the treatment, I informed him (in a nice way) that my little girl would not be a guinea pig.  The next visit that we went to see him he handed me copies of the Lancet, and several other medical reports.  He supplied me with the reassurance that I needed.  Surgery number 4 took place in February of 2008, to remove the screw.
    The last surgery had the desired effect, it stopped the growth on that side of the bone.  Eventually the leg became straight.  We were out of the woods, or so we thought.  It was about a year later that we discovered that she now had one leg an inch longer than the other.  It was shortly after that the pain began in the leg.  She did exercises to strengthen the leg.  The pain subsided.
    Last year the pain in her leg came back with a vengeance.  We took her to physio therapy twice a week in Belleville, no improvement.  Back we went to see our beloved Dr. Borchneck.  He thought that Grace had bursitis.  He had the physio therapist come and give Grace some exercises.    There was a small pain improvement.  The pain came back.  Once again we went to physico therapy.  Finally in June we went back to see Dr. Borchneck, and he suggested that the cause of the pain may be the scar itself.  More surgery.
    This August 30 Gracie underwent surgery number 5, and I pray her last.  Her old scar was removed, as well as an undissolved suture from a past surgery.  And now we wait.  We wait for Grace's pain to get better.  We wait to see if this was the answer to her pain problems.  We wait to see if she can begin to weight bear without pain.
    I am still very thankful that Grace survived that accident that took my beautiful boy.  I just am at a point when I wonder when is it enough?  When will my poor little girl be pain free? A child of 11 should not have to have chronic pain.  A child of 11 should not have had to endure what she has had to endure, and yet the worst of all, or perhaps the best part of it is that she does not know anything different.  She cannot remember a time when she was not in pain. For as long as she can remember she has had pain.  So now we have come full circle, just days before she is to begin grade 6, she has had surgery.  We are debating using crutches for the first week of school.  

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