We went in Wednesday of last week to get his head cast for the helmet. That was very messy, but necessary. Gage cried at first, but then fell asleep, as the bandages warmed up as they dried. It was very interesting to watch. First they put a sort of very heavy stocking over his head, and cut out a hole for the mouth and nose. They marked the position of his ears and eyebrows, then began putting on the plaster bandages to form the cast. They did the front and back so that the whole thing would separate and be easy to remove from his head. I didn't time it, but I believe this took maybe a half hour or less to complete. Then they had us wash Gage up and go.
The helmet, as I said above, was ready on June 6, just days later. We went in for a fitting and so that I could learn how to care for it. The therapist cut a little bit more of an opening around the ears because it didn't fit quite right there, but otherwise the fit was great. I was very happy to see that the particular model we have covers Gage's new soft spot and incisions from the surgery. That makes me feel a lot better.
For the first two days I have to remove it every 3-4 hours and check for any dark red spots on his head. These have up to an hour to vanish, or I have to leave the helmet off and call the clinic to bring him back in. So far, so good. There have been dark red spots, but they have vanished in about 45-50 minutes. Once the spots are gone, the helmet goes back on.
After that, the helmet must stay on for 23 hours a day. It can come off for bathing and such, but that's it, and the total time off needs to be under an hour a day. We can clean the insides with rubbing alcohol. Gage's head must be washed daily.
I'll be glad when his body gets used to having the helmet on. He gets very warm right now (I am typing this the day after we got the helmet), but that should change as his body adapts.
The fun part about the helmet is that we get to decorate it. I'm going to start with a background color, probably a medium blue, then we'll go from there. We're thinking handprints of Gage and his sister, to represent them at this time.
My mother looked hard for toy helmets for dolls, so that Ariel could play that her doll has to wear a helmet like Gage's, but they proved to be too difficult to find. Instead, she first tried molding play dough to a doll's head, but that cracked when it dried. Then she cut a wiffle ball in half, which makes a pretty good helmet for Ariel's favorite teddy bear.
Getting the helmet means committing to a lot of doctor's appointments. Because Gage is less than four months old, we start out with two appointments a week, but will soon be down to one a week. That's in addition to regular postop followups and Well Child checks. This is one of those times that I am very, very grateful to be working at home - I can handle this kind of scheduling and it's only a minor incovenience.
The one trick is that our insurance will probably only cover about half the cost of the helmet, which was $3000, so we have to pay $1500. Thank goodness my business picked up enough that this is an inconvenience, not a financial disaster. This is quite typical, I understand. Some companies will pay the entire amount, but others only about half, as they consider it to be durable medical equipment.
This is where things got serious. There are few things in life as difficult as watching your infant go in for surgery.
Head Casting Pictures
Watching my son get his head cast was so hard yet so fascinating! You never know if your child will be calm about the process or not.
DOC Band Painting Tips
If your baby has to wear a helmet, at least you can make it look good! We had a lot of fun getting creative with painting our son's helmet.
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