Ha ha. I know you’re just chuckling out loud thanks to my funny title… maybe not ;). Anyway, you may have noticed (or read on Facebook) that Max was in a cast for part of the summer. Josh and I were shooting a wedding one Saturday in July and Max was with Papa & Ee (his grandparents) at the McDonald’s Playplace. He hit the top of his foot on the playground equipment and spent the rest of the evening complaining about it hurting.
The next morning, he was limping around on it. I figured he had sprained his ankle, so I wrapped it up (I’m pretty good at that considering I spent most of my senior year soccer season with a wrapped ankle). He walked on it fine with the wrap. The next day it was worse. By Tuesday, he was crawling around on the floor and wouldn’t put any weight on it. It was swollen on the top of his foot and I just knew it wasn’t a sprained ankle.
Josh took him to our doctor’s office for a checkup and x-rays. Before they even got home, I got a call from the nurse. The radiologist was concerned that he might have something called Kohler Disease. She said the doctor recommended that we go straight to the ER at Children’s Mercy Hospital. As soon as Josh got home with Max, we regrouped and headed to the ER.
In the meantime, I googled Kohler disease. Anytime they tell you your kid has a disease you’ve never heard of, you immediately freak out, then google it. Luckily for us, it’s a completely curable disease of the foot that requires the kiddo to wear a cast. So, back to the ER… we waited for a short time, then they took Max back to a room. Eventually, a doctor came and confirmed that he did in fact have Kohler disease. He got fixed up with a splint and an appointment to see the Orthopaedic specialist in a week. When he saw the specialist, they put a cast on him, which he wore for the last 5 weeks of the summer. He got his cast off a few weeks ago and is now in a walking boot, which he has to wear for a few more weeks.
Now, I’m not gonna lie… I was pretty devastated about the whole cast thing. This whole ordeal happened about two weeks before we left for our Washington, D.C. trip. At first, I was ready to cancel the trip. I had NO idea how we were going to survive a 12 day road trip with a kid in a cast. I quickly got my act together though (and without ever alarming the kiddo). I’m happy to report that we went on the trip and had a blast. And we survived and enjoyed the rest of our summer.
Now, I wanted to share some tips for how to make the best of it when your kid has a cast (or a splint or a boot) on.
Tip #1: Ease their worries and fears. Max was terrified of getting a splint and a cast. He had no idea what one looked like or how it would affect him. Before we headed to the ER, we googled images of splints and casts. We read about them and we talked about them. That really helped him calm down about the whole ordeal.
Tip #2: Focus on the CANS, not the CAN’TS. There are a LOT of things kids can’t do when wearing a splint/cast/boot. Some of those things include swimming, running, and jumping. Yeah. You try telling a 6 year-old he can’t run, swim, or jump. Good luck with that. SO, rather than constantly telling him he can’t do things, we’ve tried to find ways so that he CAN participate. Case in point: trampoline jumping. We went to a house show concert of one of our favorite bands, Rabbit!, and there was a trampoline. Max had his splint on and he was devastated that he couldn’t jump on the trampoline. No problem… I had him sit on the trampoline and I jumped. He bounced all over the place and had the time of his life. When we did our water gun fight and play tag activities from our summer bucket list, Max got a piggy back ride so he wouldn’t be running around in his cast/boot.
Tip #3: Knee pads are the bomb. When Max had his splint on, he wasn’t allowed to walk on it. Since he was too little for crutches, he spent all his time crawling around on the floor. That was no big deal in the house, but when he wanted to play outside, we knew we had to do something different. So we dug out his knee pads (the ones that came with his bike helmet) and he wore those while he crawled around the driveway playing cars. We also put a giant tube sock over the splint to keep the wraps from getting stuck on the pavement and coming unraveled.
Tip #4: A little extra loving goes a long way. Max was really sad when he first got his splint on. I think he realized quickly how limited he was going to be with it on. His best friend Zoey made it a point to give him some extra attention and so did we. I think that really helped.
Tip #5: Find another activity. Max did really well with his limitations (no running or jumping) until school started. Suddenly he was coming home from school every day crying because his friends wouldn’t play with him at recess. We did a few different things to solve this problem. The first thing we did was talk to his teacher and let her know that he was having a rough time. We also talked to Zoey and she said she would make an effort to play with him. We also started sending books and a word search in his backpack. His teacher let him take those out during recess so he would have something to do even if nobody wanted to sit and play.
Tip #6: Buy a waterproof cast cover so you can go swimming or go to the beach. When Max had on his splint, he was under strict orders to not get it wet. I went out and immediately bought this DryPro waterproof cast cover. I couldn’t wait 3 days to get it in the mail, so I called the company and they told me where I could buy one locally. This thing was amazing! We went to the pool that very afternoon. (Sidenote: his foot floated! He didn’t like it at first, but he got used to it). He did not have to wear it once he had the cast on, since it was waterproof. But he did wear it when we went to the beach, because sand and a cast are not a good mix!
Tip #7: Prepare for getting the cast off. We did not do this. I thought Max would be SO excited to get the cast off. And he was. But they put him in a boot. He wouldn’t take the thing off! He slept with it on for two nights and I FINALLY convinced him that his foot was fine and he could walk on it without the boot on. Once he realized that it didn’t hurt, he was totally okay. But it was much more of a transition than I thought it would be. I think if we had discussed it ahead of time, it would have gone much smoother. We weren’t sure if they would put another cast on, so we didn’t want to get his hopes up.