Monday, August 8, 2011

Cameron's Month in Bryant's Traction

"Happiness is a form of courage." -Holbrook Jackson

      We went back up to Dallas the very next week after her initial visit to get her traction device fitted and ready to go back to Corpus Christi with us. Truthfully, because of her age, I had my doubts as to wether or not Cam would put up with it at all. Neither one of us were sure just what to expect from our usually mild mannered little girl. When the time came, she didn't' mind getting her legs wrapped up at all. But, the traction test drive around the hospital in her little red wagon did not go so well. We wheeled her around the hospital with her feet straight up in the air and her screaming like crazy. She was not happy at all. At that point we just wanted to scoop her up and run away, but we knew she was most likely just upset because she was awkward and had a bunch of people staring at her. So, we loaded her and the traction device into the car and drove home that same day. She was to stay in traction at all times except to eat or drink. I remember feeling like saying, "Yeah, right! This 16 month old that is used to playing outside and going through kitchen drawers is not about to give it all up." But much to our surprise, she never once even made a fuss! Sure, her world changed a lot (and ours did too), but her easy going and happy nature didn't waiver at all. We spent more time than we would have liked just watching movies, reading books, and listening to music. The traction harnesses didn't stop her much. She would turn over and crawl as far as she could to reach toys, she would sway her hips and dance to music, and a couple of times we even found her sitting up and playing (which sounds horrible, but they said the more movement the better to stretch everything out). There were hard times, but unfortunately we knew the hardest was still yet to come.

A few tips for getting through time in traction with a toddler:

1.  Your child's toy selection changes a lot. Large or heavy toys are no good unless they can flip over and play with them. Everything ends up being held over the face, so anything heavy or sharp can and will be dropped and may hurt them. Choose toys that will keep their hands and minds occupied as long as possible. Cam really liked sticker books. She would decorate everything including herself, us, and her traction machine.  We were also fortunate enough to be able to get an Apple iPad (which sounded bad to me at first since I was never big on her even watching TV).  The iPad was perfect for her. We got the otter box cover so she could't do any damage and then hung it from the PVC on her traction. It was crazy how fast she learned how to play (carefully selected) music videos and movies and turn pages through interactive children books. There are a lot of apps for toddlers. This turned out to be a great idea and a lifesaver.

2.  One on one play.  I have heard some parents say they worry about spoiling their baby, I think that is silly. At this point, if your baby that used to run around and play has to be kept still lying down 24/7, just keeping her happy is key. Their happiness and comfort is most important. So, unless she was busy playing or watching a movie, there was someone with her almost all the time to read with her or play games, etc. I know that this is what enabled her to spend so much time in traction. She needed support to not feel left alone and tied up. (After all, it is a little bit like your baby is hooked up to a medieval torture device.)

3.  When your child has a bad moment and just isn't happy, by all means, take them out of traction and get it off of their mind!!!!!! Cam has always thrived (as all kids do) on a schedule she can count on. Our schedule included a couple of times during the day to get up for 15 min. or so to go outside, have company, or go for a car ride.  I know they say to stay in traction AT ALL TIMES except to eat, but we found that by giving her little breaks, she didn't protest and ultimately probably spent more time in traction.

4.  Don't give up on your child sleeping in it! I know it's tough, but if they can sleep through the night in it, that's a huge chunk of time that their hip(s) are benefiting from. What worked for us was getting a twin bed in the nursery. I laid down with Cameron every night until she wound down and drifted off to sleep. Then I just scooped her up and into her crib, hooked her up, and was able to leave the room and get some things done for myself.

5.  Spend the money and get a video monitor.  We were able to keep an eye on Cameron while she slept to make sure she was in a good position and that her legs weren't tangled. (She was constantly getting tangled and had to be undone day and night.) We actually found that she still preferred to sleep on her tummy, so she would twist her harnesses once in order to roll over. This was fine because it didn't hurt her at all or interfere with how the weights were pulling.

6.  When time in traction is over and you go back in, have the nurses remove all of the wrapping from your child's legs. We were sent back to our hotel that night with the stuff to remove it, but it was not a pleasant experience. It pulled her skin and hair really bad and should have been done quickly by the nurses before we left. No big deal though, we got it off and were able to bather her that night.

Hope this is helpful. I will add more as I think of others.

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