After many months of anticipation, Daisy’s hip procedures are just around the corner now, with the first operation scheduled for this coming Monday, April 23. We completed all of the pre-op work this past week and Daisy is healthy and ready as she’ll ever be to get this part of her life behind her. Given all of the questions coming through from family and friends via text, email, phone call and Instagram (you guys really are the best cheerleading squad we could ask for!), I thought I'd share some high-level information.
Daisy was given a stethoscope during her pre-op yesterday and loved listening to body sounds!
On Monday, Daisy’s surgeon will focus on her left hip. First he will open the hip to clear out any tissues that are keeping the head of the femur (the ball) from being connected into the acetabulum (the socket). Next, he will make a cut in the socket and reshape it to better accommodate the femur (as it won’t have been growing and expanding the way it would if they had been connected from the start).
We will be with Daisy in the hospital overnight and into the next day following surgery. Daisy will be put in a partial hip spica cast to help hold the hip in the socket while the ligaments and bones are healing. The first cast will cross her body and include both hips and most of her left leg (like the cast shown in the diagram below on the right). At her second surgery, on May 14, her right hip will be operated on and she will be placed in a full hip spica cast (below on the left) which will keep her immobile from the waist down for the next six weeks.
When the cast comes off in June (the week after her sister is born if all goes according to plan!), Daisy will then be placed in an abduction brace (below) for another two weeks, after which she will be required to only wear the brace during naps and at night for about a year following the surgery.
In addition to the usual risks of surgery (infection, bleeding, etc.), open hip reduction carries a few other risks:
Avascular Necrosis – a disturbance in blood flow around the hip area which could cause the head of the femur to grow abnormally
Re-dislocation in which the femoral head can separate from the socket once again
Residual dysplasia – when the hip joint doesn’t fully deepen over time despite the surgery successfully connecting the ball and the socket. Significant shallowness can necessitate another surgery down the line.
Nick is building a special hip spica chair with a work surface for Daisy based on the plans sent to us by an old friend from Skidmore (my digital mom tribe never, ever disappoints!). The Sullivans bought us a beautiful monogrammed bean bag chair where Daisy will be able to sit comfortably while she watches movies or reads. We’ve rented a special car seat from the hospital which can accommodate Daisy for the next two months. Our AMAZING mothers are visiting during alternating weeks to help with the recovery and to keep Daisy company while Nick and I go back to work as she will not be in school.
The hip spica cast is a heavy, constricting bandage that cannot get wet which means we will be unable to bathe Daisy (for nine weeks! Ahh!) or dip her in the pool when the summer days get hot. We’ve been warned that diapering will get messy and the cast will get soiled – it’s something we’ll just have to do our best to get used to. Her skin will likely be itchy and uncomfortable underneath the cast but we have explicit instruction not to try to reach the skin and to just leave it alone. Daisy will not be able to walk or move much – at most she’ll be able to drag herself on the floor towards the end of her recovery. Daisy won’t fit in a standard car seat, high chair or much else so we’ll be confined to home for the duration of her recovery and likely unable to do things like go out to dinner with Daisy or bring her to the grocery store.
We've decided not to bring Daisy back to school (though our wonderful school administrators were willing to have her!) for the rest of the academic year. My concern was that it would drive Daisy crazy to watch her classmates and friends play and engage in activities while she was confined to a special chair - and I didn't want her to become a distraction or burden on the teachers that would take time away from the other students either. Instead, Daisy will be with us and our families with support from a full-time nanny for the summer. It will be challenging to balance a new baby and Daisy in recovery but we've got lots of help and we feel fortunate that we can all be together!
The hardest part will simply be watching our active, exploratory, adventurous and spirited child suffer through nine plus weeks of immobility. All the activities and movies in the world can’t replace her ability to run and play – and we will desperately want to be able to give that to her.
How Family & Friends Can Help
We are so, so, so lucky to have all of you friends and family cheering us on through this period, as always. Your love and support and prayers are what we need most. We would love your suggestions on great videos or shows to watch with Daisy, favorite books about healing and any video messages that Daisy can watch. If you live close to Philly, we'd love visitors as we'll be homebound for almost all summer and likely a bit stir-crazy!
Finally, we are raising money for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia here to help fund research and medical advancements to help children like Daisy and families like ours. We are incredibly fortunate to benefit from the donations of families that came before us. CHOP is a truly extraordinary place - it's like a small, colorful, glittering city filled with the best physicians, the kindest nursing staff and interactive stations at every turn to keep children feeling safe and happy. On Daisy's surgery floor, there is a family center filled with activities and media we can rent out for the day. On other floors there are amazing art installations, coloring stations - even a recording studio! We cannot say enough about the incredible community that is CHOP. If you have even a few dollars to spare, we would be honored by your donations.
Thank you for all of your prayers and love - we will keep you posted on Daisy's progress every step of the way ♥