Well, we are a week post-op, and Benjamin is feeling good. I can’t help but compare this hospital stay to our last one. The first thing I notice is that we know most of the staff this time. I believe Shriners is considered one of the best employers (could be #1) in Montreal, and it shows. There is very little staff turnover; this even includes staff who you would expect to have higher turnover rates like janitors and cooking staff. Nope – we have tonnes of familiar faces here. This allowed us to transition almost seamlessly back into hospital life. The only other major difference I notice from last time is how slowly our weights are increasing versus last time. Last time we were adding up to 2 pounds per day. We would have been at 12 or 14 pounds at this point last time. Today, we are sitting at 5 pounds. Because we anticipate most of our movement to be in the cervical spine, they are being very cautious. From a mom’s point of view – I am happy with cautious.
A lot of people are asking me about where I stay and what I do, so I will fill you in a bit. Benjamin has a private room (every room in this hospital is private). It is a fairly big room when you compare it to your standard hospital room, but all the rooms here are big to accommodate things like wheelchairs, walkers, etc. Along one side of the room, there is a little desk, a wardrobe, and a window bench. This is where I sleep (or don’t sleep). I take care of most of Ben’s needs while he is here. He is more comfortable with that, and I honestly have nothing better to do. Because he is attached to his traction at all times, he needs to be unhooked before he does anything like going to the bathroom or changing. He takes his showers either hooked up to traction of with me pulling up on his head to provide counter-weight. (Once kiddos start traction, their necks will feel quite uncomfortable without the pull of traction, so most of the time they need a pull on the skull when they are not hooked up to weights. The weights are attached to pulleys to provide constant pulling.)
Ben has a traction unit on his bed and over his wheelchair. I am HOPING HOPING HOPING the traction unit on his walker gets approved soon so Ben can actually walk and not sit on his bum all day. He says his bum gets sore with all this sitting, and I should think so! Again, they are being very thorough in ensuring that his walker is very safe. When you are suspended by screws on your head, it is important not to fall. Having said that, let me tell you a few of the behaviours I saw this week, which makes me happy for safety protocols.
Ben is very independent and loves to wheel his own wheelchair. He didn’t do this last time – I don’t think he was big enough. I watched him racing back to our room the other night as fast as he could. As soon as he approached the door, he pulled on his left brake and careened into the room. “What was that?” I asked. “I dunno”, he said “I thought it would look cool”. “Hmmmm….no more drifting, or you’re gonna give me a heart attack and then who will take you to the bathroom in the middle of the night”. Anyways, in case you’re wondering – it hasn’t stopped.
On Friday I noticed (again) he was zipping up the hallway at breakneck speed, but he had his bum pushed all the to the front of the chair and his legs straight out. I thought this was odd, so I looked at him and saw that his eyes were tightly shut. “Are you kidding me” I asked. “What in heaven’s name do you think you are doing?” “I just wanted to see if I could make it to my room without hitting anything” he replied. “I’m gonna need a cardiologist” I muttered.
So Ben and I basically have a third of the hospital to ourselves. When I saw our room I laughed and said “clearly I offended someone last time I was here”. However, it is pretty nice and quiet on my end (I call it the west wing, but I really have no direction which way I am facing).