Before my son was born and diagnosed, I had never even heard of it. Once he was diagnosed, I had to ask the doctor to say it again and again, then finall had her write it down so I could come home and research it.
Now, nearly two and a half years after that diagnosis, not only have we had two surgeries and a whole host of complications to go with them, but I could probably bore you to tears spouting more information, facts and stories than you ever wanted to know. I could probably challenge most pediatricians in a game of "Cranio Jeopardy" and win. (And wouldn't that be a riveting game show?) I could tell you the best-known surgeons in the US, (and Great Britain for that matter), I could decribe in depth the difference between the endoscopic repair and the more traditional CVR, and I could give you all the secrets you would need to spend a week at a Children's hospital.
This week marked a year since Max's second big surgery. I can't say that I've been feeling nostalgic, but I've done more than a little looking back this week and thanking the powers that be that cranio isn't something we worry about on a day to day basis anymore.
In general, we are satisfied with the results of the second surgery. To an untrained eye, (in other words, to anyone except me and other head picking, cranio-obsessed moms,) he looks like any other little boy. His long crazy curls cover up the fact that the top of his head has more bumps and ridges than a moguls course. The poor boy will never be able to rock the shaved-head look. He still has some weird lumps on his forehead, some narrowness above his eyebrows, and every so often we'll see what has to be a screw poking out underneath his skin, but there's nothing that would make us consider another surgery for a second.
I mean, really, could he get much cuter?
I called yesterday to make an appointment for his one year follow up with the craniofacial surgeon. Just talking with someone at the hospital made me start to sweat, and it took close to a half hour after that phone call before the adrenaline stopped pumping. Just envisioning being back in that hospital, no matter how benign the reason, gives me a minor panic attack.
But for the most part, the medical chaos that followed us for the first eighteen months or so of Max's life seems to have subsided dramatically. He hasn't been to the doctor more than once in the past six months, which is quite a change from the first year of his life, where we were lucky if we went a week without one doctor appointment or another! He is a bright, happy, cheerful, busy, trouble-making, tantrum-throwing, house-destroying toddler, and thankfully, we wouldn't have it any other way.
A year ago, we were sitting in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Primary Children's Hospital. Max's swelling was at its peak, and we were all praying that his sodium levels would get under control soon so we could be moved to a regular room. We were trying to find a pain medication that would do the job and desperately praying for comfort for him and for us.
I still tear up when I see this picture.