Day 1 of Halo Traction

So, we are finishing day 1.

There ended up being an emergency surgery first thing this morning so our surgery ended up being delayed from a 12:30ish surgery to a 5:45ish surgery. Titus was a champ.  He complained about being hungry starting at about 2:00 but was pretty amazingly tough.  Not that it’s about us, but Jared and I didn’t eat during that whole time either, so we literally felt the discomfort right along with him.  It was a long day for all of us.  The surgery itself went pretty smoothly and quickly.  After surgery he woke up trying to take the halo off, roll over, scratch his nose, and pretty much move all over.  Eventually he woke up enough to stay still.  Then we moved into our more permanent room.

It has been pretty rough since then, he has fully realized what no moving means.  He wants to sleep on his side but can’t.  He has an IV, a catheter, and is hooked up to machines and he is uncomfortable.  He can’t eat a real meal until tomorrow, and the liquid diet isn’t helping Titus feel any happier.  The nurses don’t want him on solid food for 12 hours because it could make him nauseous and throwing up while in the halo would be awful.  But he just got his dose of Valium and seems to be heading towards sleep, which would be great.

Meanwhile, I’m sitting next to him, most often holding his hand, and hoping each day will get better.

Check In

Titus seemed more joyful the last two days.  With one and a half days to go and lots of fun packed in, I’m hopeful he can enjoy this time.  He still knows it’s looming, but he doesn’t seem as stressed.

We got our check in time.  It looks like we will be checking in at 11:45, which means he can’t eat after 5:15am.  We will likely wake him early and let him eat breakfast.  We even have some enjoyable things planned for that morning, doing what we can to make the best of a rotten situation.

“I Can’t Do This”

These were the words from T tonight.  He is all the feels – if we were talking about the dark and terrified feels.   He knows we are going in on Thursday and as the day approaches, he is considering running away.  Seriously.  And I may be the get away driver.  Not so seriously.

At this point, we are trying to find the Can Do spirit.  We have been preparing as much as we can.  We have talked about it, planned for it, and know we need to get through it.

Also, I did get a lap table, for those who are wondering.

Best Case Scenario

First off, we finally confirmed surgery dates for next week.  We will go in sometime between 6am and noon on Aug 24 to begin traction.

Best case scenario to prayer for: That traction alone will be work amazingly well and without a doubt will work for the long term.  And that he will have such good response post-hospital he we be in the halo brace for the shortest amount of time possible.  There is more detailed information and some background below.

The goal of traction is to reduce how much his first vertebrae is out of line.  For years we (and the doctors) thought his neck tilt was due to muscle issues because the skeletal issues didn’t show up on x-rays.  As we prepared to do another muscle surgery (to loosen the overly tight neck muscle) the new doctor wanted to do a CT and MRI to confirm it wasn’t skeletal.  Well, it turns out it is skeletal.  His C1 (1st vertebrae) and C2 (2nd vertebrae) look as though they have melted.  They may have been that way since he was born.  It was that way when we met him at 2 years old.  Although there is little chance of it working, we hope traction (along with muscle relaxers) will be enough to straighten his spine.

If traction doesn’t work, he will go into surgery (Aug 29) to have his vertebrae fused.  This will mean a lifetime of less mobility, but an improvement from his current state.

Either way, he will be leaving the hospital with a halo brace for a minimum of 3 months.  While in the halo, he can’t run, jump, rough-house, climb, and he absolutely can’t fall.  He won’t be able to look down or side to side without moving his entire body.  It will feel like forever to him.  Although it is super sad, and going to be hard on him, we ask that you don’t say “poor baby” (or the like) to him.  Instead, say things like “man, that’s terrible; but you’re such a strong kid” or “this is hard, but you can do this”.

Titus Pre-Halo Brace

It appears Titus will begin his Halo cast traction on August 24th.  The date isn’t set in stone but it’s what we are currently expecting.   For those of you don’t know, the goal of the traction to reduce the first vertebrae which is out of line.  For the entire time he will be in bed, with very MINIMAL movement.

Halo brace illustrationHalo brace

If his traction doesn’t seem to be working then we will move to spinal fusion, possibly on the 29th.

Regardless of whether the traction alone is enough or if he ends up with spinal fusion, Titus will remain in the Halo brace for 3 to 6 months after he is released from the hospital.  We don’t know how long he will be in the hospital.  If you are wondering about visiting us while we are there, we won’t know how that will work until after the traction begins.

For those who want to help, here are somethings I know we would like to borrow.  Here’s the list:

  • Controller that works with iPad
  • A baby bottle (needs to be usable)
  • Tabletop easel
  • Lap table

I’ll try to keep this updated as we know more.  Right now, we feel like we are standing on a precipice and there are so many unknowns.




#1 receiving travel approval

#2 being able to travel so soon and beating the October shut down

#3 little boys and little girls

#4 a wonderful husband who handles so much of our family business

#5 a sweet boy i have the pleasure of baby-sitting

#6 so many friends and family to celebrate with

#7 a good night’s sleep

#8 friends offering to lend a hand, wherever they can

#9 for popcorn and m&ms

#10 fresh corn on the cob

The Birds – Malheur

Snipes are for real.  This is a Common Snipe.  Snipe hunting is still more accurate as a joke though – these suckers are usually tough to find.

Momma Great Horned Owl

You can kind of see the fuzzy grey babies in this shot.

Ruddy Duck and mate. The bright blue of its beak is not photoshopped, just naturally weird.

I don’t know that I’ll ever see enough California Quail to stop liking them.  They remind me of little gentlemen and I love how they group and run with their babies.

Do you see it?  We scared it out of its hidey hole here and it flew across Diamond Crater to land…

…here.  I’ll give you a hint, its another Great Horned Owl.  They are often found here.

Now do you see it?

The American Coot.  I loathe these.  Any birder would understand.  Stupid water chicken.

Beautiful Cinnamon Teal and mate.

Western Meadowlark.  Novel to us now that I live in Western Oregon.  In Idaho and Eastern Oregon they are everywhere.  I miss hearing their song here.

Do you see what I see?

Now?  That is a burrowing owl on the left end of the log.

Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus, AKA, Yellow-Headed Blackbird.  Again they are everywhere there but nowhere here, so I’m smitten with them.

We did some great birding in Malheur but didn’t get as many good shots as we would have liked.  I was so glad Hubby got to experience the same trip I’ve been on before.  It is a treat to go with others who know so much about an area; it makes it much more interesting and much easier to bird.

So, What do You do Again?

My current title is Science Outreach Administrator.  The title is in no way helpful to explain what I do.  What I do is rather hard to explain because it covers a lot of areas, and each area needs its own explanation to really understand what I do.  I, in no particular order:

  • supervise college students (this semester there are 13 students I’m supervising) who teach younger kids (from six-year-olds up through high schoolers)
  • travel and do presentations with our portable planetarium
  • host (mostly middle and high school) groups and do presentations in our cadaver lab (this year so far I have hosted over 630 high school students)
  • educate educators on how to more effectively teach science and loan equipment to help them along the journey
  • and a whole host of other things.

This post falls into the “other things” category.  Tuesday, the culmination of many hours of work paid off.  I certainly couldn’t have done it without the help of many, many people.  There were five departments involved, around 150 people attended, and a few hundred dollars spent to make the Science Open House a success.  The open house is a “show and tell” event for George Fox families put on by all the science departments (physics, engineering, math, biology, and chemistry – we even snuck in a little earth science).  Here are some images from the night.

There was the cute and fuzzy…

…and the creepy crawly.  This is our campus chaplain’s hand.  Way to go!!

There were many willing volunteers, albeit crazy.

And “science” food.  I know you want some of that.

Ice cream a la liquid nitrogen.

A very popular demo of ferro-fluid and microwaves.  If you haven’t seen the ferro-fluid, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

Fancy machines, big boy toys really.  Big and small boys liked stretching the rod (in the middle) until it broke (that’s steel, folks).

Professors were animated and excited.

Heart rates were measured and changed using a flip table.

Chemisty was in the air.

Pyromaniacs were encouraged.

Volcanoes were set off.

I was a giant dork.

The finale light show really took my breath away.

And the laser light show was excellent.  I kept expecting cell phone swaying since everyone was singing along with Fireflies, by Owl City.

I couldn’t have asked for a better night, or for better help.  So many people made this night great.  For example, as I was checking to be sure everyone was finishing up, the students who had been serving food all evening had started cleaning up and were DOING THE DISHES ALREADY.  Although I was beat, I was also unbelievably blessed.