Thursday, August 12, 2010

Head Case - Part 1

Tonight’s post, as you can probably guess, is going to be in two parts. I realised as I was writing that it was going to be quiet long, so to spare you a whole lot of reading in one hit I’ve broken it up. The little man is not in the best of moods today and wasn’t at all interested in breakfast or his morning nap. I took him to the osteopath yesterday and grumpiness after a visit is not uncommon apparently. For those of you that don’t know the history, allow me to explain why we’re seeing an osteopath. In the late stages of my pregnancy J was lodged firmly in my pelvis for about three weeks. It was rather uncomfortable for me as you can imagine and left him with a bit of a cone-head after he made his grand entrance (or exit?). This gradually subsided but he was left with a rotated sphenoid bone in his skull. In other words, he had a flat area on one side of his forehead, and on the opposite side at the back of his head he had a lump. We were told not to worry; it would correct itself. It didn’t.

Our GP (a woman so wonderful, she deserves her own website) referred us to a physiotherapist in Central who “specialised” in baby’s heads. Some professionals believe that a misshapen skull can impact on certain nerves in the brain and spinal cord and this can contribute to colic, reflux, sleep problems etc. We’d experienced all of those, and wondered if his endless bouts of crying in the early days were his way of telling us he had a headache. We were desperate to give anything a try. The physio we saw, let’s call her S, was nice enough and seemed to know what she was doing. J was always very chilled out after his sessions but after about 6 visits we hadn’t seen any improvement in any of his symptoms. S admitted that she’d reached the limits of her abilities and recommended a session with her boss, the head of the practice; we’ll call her C. I was excited to meet the woman who had developed the baby head-shaping method. It seemed we would finally be meeting someone who could help our little man. I could not have been more wrong. She started later than our designated appointment time and was instantly attacking me: I should’ve brought him in sooner. Why didn’t I have physio while I was pregnant to prevent this from happening? Why was he on formula? He was “clearly” allergic to something in my breastmilk, why hadn’t we been tested for sensitivities (more on that fascinating process later)? I had a valid response to all of these attacks but was left feeling very defensive and this did not bode well for the rest of the session. She told me it was probably too late to start treatment, and when I suggested we leave she quickly offered to try something. J picked up on my anxiety and was restless and a bit cranky. Every time he started to complain C would throw her hands in the air and say “I can’t work on him while he’s like this, you need to settle him down.” She didn’t interact with him at all and didn’t seem to have a natural way with children. At times she waved her hands over his head as if performing what I can only imagine was Reiki, and before I left she explained that I needed to think positively when looking at J’s head, as my negative energy was preventing him from healing. I’m a firm believer in the power of positive thinking and I do believe there is a place for alternative therapies, but I don’t believe that moving the air above my son’s head and telling me to project positivity will improve the shape of his skull in any way. Any negativity I was feeling was purely a product of being in that room, it had nothing to do with my beautiful son and his wonky forehead. She then concluded the session early and charged me $1800 HKD for the privilege! We decided to let J grow for a while after this experience, and take a wait-and-see approach.

It was tough trying to decide whether or not to take any action in the first place. It was his head after all, and I was so concerned that we might do long-term damage. More concerning was the idea that the bones were pressing on his brain or that he’d have all sorts of issues in the future with his eyesight, sinuses or worse. It didn’t help that a few of the professionals we spoke to thought we were only worried about how he looked. They just didn’t understand that it wasn’t aesthetics we were concerned with. When talking about it with friends most of them have said that they have never noticed J’s head. I guess it was because he had always been that way, but I definitely noticed every time I looked at him. I know I could not have helped it but I have always felt responsible. I know some people thought we were a bit mad seeking treatment for something that most doctors believe children grow out of. At the end of the day we decided to persist, knowing that we’d never forgive ourselves if we ignored it and he didn’t grow out of it.

1 comment:

  1. I get angry hearing these kind of stories where people just attack new mums as if everything is their fault! I wonder if this kind of attitude has a cultural base to it. I have friends in Hong Kong (they are HK nationals but have spent lots of time abroad) with a young son. They have relayed tales to me about how children have to conform and it is the mother's fault if they cannot sit still, speak 3 languages, are not compliant etc And all this at 3 or even younger.
    Their child spends lots of time in Australia and likes to run a lot (without shoes I suspect!)So he is having a hard time at playgroup and indirectly I think his mum is too.
    If it is any consolation my son Stephen had the biggest conehead when he was born. This big lump on one side of his skull at the top. I used to cover it with the edge of a blanket so he would look "normal" when he was asleep. That was probably risky too now I think of it! It got smaller but it was still there when he was at primary school and maybe it is now too. He's OK I think. He's grown up without too much drama, has a wonderful wife and two little girls. He's a brilliant researcher/ geneticist. OH but wait - He cannot for the life of him multi task! Mmm ... is that his head? Luckily he has a fantastic partner who is brilliant at it.
    I think J has a beautiful head and a great developing brain. take care LXXX