Today we went to Shriners to see Mr Rick. He's Hannah's prosthetist.
Hannah is getting a new leg soon, that will have a different type of knee.
The leg she has now has a locking knee that she can unlock when she sits down.
The new leg will have a knee that bends when she walks. She'll probably fall more in the beginning, as she gets used to it, but better to do it now, while she's still close to the ground, Mr Rick says.
The first step in this process was casting Hannah's stump to make a mold for Mr Rick to build her new leg around.
This involved a lot of waiting, during which time, Hannah surprised me by showing that she knows all her letter names, and most of the sounds they make. We passed the time coming up with other words that start with those letters. She has learned SO much this school year!
Hannah did not care much for the casting process!
They put on meshy "tights" first, slip a rubber tube down the side, then wrap wet, pre-plastered gauze around and around her. After it dries, Mr Rick cut it off through the rubber tubing.
Then we went to the play room, where the older kids got to brush up on their Spanish skills and kick it old school with a Nintendo 64.
Hannah likes to ride around in these Little Tikes cars while her leg is being worked on, because it gives her easy mobility. During this time, her leg was getting lengthened and patch on the inside was being ground down to accommodate a place where she'd grown and was rubbing uncomfortably. She has a "perma-bruise" going there. I hope this gives it a chance to clear up.
I talked to Mr Rick about how her knee joint put holes in all her pants. Seriously, every single pair of pants she has has holes in the right leg. Some worse than others, but it's maddening to take new pants out of the wash after the first wearing and see how much the holes have unravelled. He was able to come up with a possible solution for us. She now has a strap velcroed onto the back of her leg over and under the knee joint that will bend when she bends her leg. Hopefully, the strap will take the abuse, and the pants won't have to. In theory, we might someday be able to pass pants down from Hannah to Katie, if this works. Presently, they all end up cut into shorts after a few wearings.
The unfortunate news is that Hannah is facing another surgery at some point.
This has been mentioned several times before, but today was the first time I really "got" what they're hoping to accomplish by it. Mr Rick thinks they may STAPLE her growth plates to allow her stump to straighten out as she grows. Otherwise, she's looking at a more complicated surgery to straighten it out all at once. Unlike if you or I had an above knee amputation and was left with a straight stump, Hannah actually has a jumble of bones including a knee and an ankle in there.
Her x-rays are fascinating.
So, the long and the short of it is:
We go back in two weeks for a test fit of the new socket.
After that, Mr Rick will build her new leg.
She may need a few physical therapy appointments to help her acclimate to it, and then again, she may not. She's pretty adaptable.
We see her surgeon in March.
At that point, hopefully we'll have a better idea of the time frame for our China trip.
MY ideal, would be to do the surgery before we leave, so I don't have to be away from home overnight right after Katie comes home. BUT that's without knowing how long recovery may take, and how long she'll be unable to wear her leg. It occurrs to me she'll need a new socket after the surgery, too. I can't leave Hannah and go off to China while she's gimpin' around on one leg. So later may be better. Fortunately, it's not an URGENT surgery, but I'm guessing it will happen sometime this year.
We already know Katie will need some surgical attention, too.
I can easily see 2013 being another "Year Of The Surgeries" like 2011 was.
In 2011, Hannah had her foot amputated, Annaliese had eye surgery, and Zachary had skin graft surgery following bad burns.
What I learned from that was to just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Not to stress about the big picture, but to do the next thing. And we got through it just fine. All the pre-op, post op, follow up, therapy... We did it.
I made Hannah a little book after her surgery.
Start your own Shutterfly Photo Book today.
I'm going to have to get it out and start reading it to her again and talking about what's coming. Hopefully this will help prepare her. Shriners has a great Child Life department, too. They're really good about doing some play therapy and showing what to expect.