Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Tortoise Collar

So today we had the appointment with the Doctor to find out what Lucy is dealing with. The verdict wasn't really nice but at the very least we know a little more now. Lucy has been diagnosed with a particularly nasty torticollis - that is to say "wry neck" in the old terminology. 

Torticollis, in Lucy's case in particular, is a condition where - because of a malposition in the uterus during development and/or trauma during birth and delivery - one of the muscles in her neck has been damaged quite badly and this has caused her not only to favor turning her head to one side but to have it hang down to one side when in an upright position. Added to this is the rather worrying realization that, because she has for so long favored one side because of the damaged muscle - sternocleidomastoid muscle - her head has taken on an asymmetrical appearance - it's seriously been pushed out of shape. One side of her forehead is more prominent than the other and the back of her head has a protrusion that makes it look out of shape. Neither myself or my serioso actually noticed this initially. I kinda thought something about Lucy's head shape was amiss some weeks ago but I pushed it aside, focusing more on the increasingly alarming situation with her head positioning. 

We are now going to embark on an intensive physiotherapy regime with Lucy in an attempt to see if the muscle in her neck can be "stretched", whether the torticollis can be corrected. An ultrasound has also been planned to see how badly the muscle has been damaged or if there is any sort of lesion that might also have exacerbated Lucy's predicament.

The physiotherapy sessions are painful - as the first one last evening proved. Lucy yelped at the manipulation that had to be applied and the exercises that we've been given to do at home don't make for a very nice experience. Unfortunately this has been left to go on much too long and the degree of deformity of the muscle is greater than it otherwise would have been, had we been able to get to the bottom of this sooner.

I feel awful. 

Awful that I didn't twig myself that Lucy was indeed in trouble and awful that I didn't act sooner in getting Lucy seen to. As a nurse I should have picked this up. And I have to say that I am a little angry at our pediatrician. We took Lucy to see the pediatrician a couple of months ago on the advice of my MIL who is a nurse/midwife herself and who suggested that this needed to be gotten to the bottom of. At the time, however, the pediatrician dismissed our concerns as those fired up by an overly exuberant grandmother.

We paid $160 to be told that. 

The diagnosis that was made yesterday was by our GP (our "Becker" - American friends), a well versed and highly experienced medico in children's medicine who came to the diagnosis after a thorough examination of Lucy. 

We were bulk billed for that (i.e. Medicare). 

I've half a mind to call or write our pediatrician to let them know that we feel very let down by their lack of judgment. But that won't really solve Lucy's problems now. I just hope and pray that, because of my own failing in identifying this sooner as well as others missteps, we haven't caused Lucy lasting damage.

To those of you who have sent us messages of support in the last little while - each and every one of you are beautiful people and I thank you.


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