We're on the official countdown to Mason's 13th and 14th surgeries! Tomorrow he will have both a heel cord release (tendon surgery) and a hip flexion abduction release (hip tendon surgery). They are both on his right leg. These surgeries are to correct the contractures that came about when his spinal cord was tethered and became symptomatic. You can see some pictures from last March showing the Mason's hip and foot and the inability to straighten them into a flat or neutral position. They look pretty much the same today on the right (the left foot got better after his spinal cord detethering surgery in March).
I've been asked why we are pursuing these surgeries if Mason cannot bear weight on his legs and will never walk. It's a great question! There are several reasons but the short version is this:
- For the foot: Right now Mason cannot wear shoes because his foot is pointed like a ballerina. Shoes aren't essential, though they are helpful in colder weather and for protection when he is crawling on rough surfaces. However he also cannot wear his HKAFOs, the belly to foot length braces that enable him to stand upright and use his stander. More on that next.
- For the hip: Mason is having some difficulty with climbing up the stairs, into his wheelchair from the floor, and transferring from the wheelchair to other places because his right leg won't straighten and isn't flexible in certain directions. It also affects his balance and the way he sits, which can cause pressure sores. Finally it prevents him from fitting his HKAFOs mentioned above. The HKAFOs make it possible for Mason to use a stander with wheels similar to his wheelchair. He has mobility at a different height, which is good developmentally, but more important standing applies pressure to his leg bones and strengthens them. Without standing his bones become less dense, more brittle and prone to fractures or breaks.
Second, we would like to do some outdoor adventures that are not wheelchair accessible in parts or the entire way (hiking, some caverns, etc). To make that possible I need to be able to carry Mason long distances. We're not there yet, but we're getting stronger together.
I hope to update here once we're home from the hospital in a few days. It's finally time!