Monday, August 27, 2007

It's not polite to stare...

Thomas is in his fifth week of serial casting. Serial casting is a process in which a child who has tight legs gets to endure a series of weeklong casts on his legs. Each week the cast sets the foot at a varying angle to his leg. The result is that, for a few months, the child's legs will be less tight.
Thomas has cerebral palsy, which in his case means his legs are severely spastic, or tight. When he attempts to use his walker he spends his time on his toes. He has been so tight lately that he refuses to use the walker, preferring instead to crawl his way around wherever we are.

So after about a dozen injections of botox in each leg, which will help loosen his muscles, the casting began. Oh what fun it is! To add an additional 8 pounds to my already almost too heavy for me to carry child. "Now don't forget, Mom, do not get these casts wet." Oh Joy! No baths for a week at a time. This should prove interesting.

Now to explain a little further, these casts are not permanent. At the end of each week I get the pleasure of unravelling the material used for the cast. This usually happens an hour or so before bedtime so we can throw in the weekly bath. After four weeks of this Thomas no longer puts up a fight at having to sit still long enough for me to remove them. And after four weeks I have become an expert at finding where one peice of material ends and the next begins. In the end we have a large pile of this mesh-like material, some form of stocking, and usually some very unnatractive brown tape that had been used to keep it all together. I assure you, it isn't the trendiest look of the year, but it sure is functional.

So Thursday is casting day, and since having the casts on makes any activity a lot more difficult, we choose to go about all of our business and errands on casting day. The first day of casting came as a bit of a shock to both of us. Thomas was indignant at having to lay on his belly for two hours while the therapists fought him, kicking and screaming, to put on the casts.

Afterward we headed to the grocery store. That was mom's surprise. No cart for us, thank you very much, it seems they don't make carts for almost-five-year-olds with both legs in casts. So I decide to use his stroller and just grab the bare essentials we can't live without. By now, four and a half years into this game, you wouldn't think that would suprise me, but it did. Maybe just because I wasn't thinking about the small inconveniences so much as the big ones, like no baths, no jeans, and an added 8 pounds to deal with.

Surprise number two came once we walked in the doors. Every person, yes EVERY person we passed couldn't help but gape at Thomas. I admit, it might seem a bit odd for a four year old to be wearing two casts. But couple that with his special needs stroller, which looks like a wheelchair without the big rear wheels, and you'd think people would be able to put two and two together. Not in hickville USA, and probably not anywhere else for that matter. The stares I got, or should I say glares, the whispers, the not-so-subtle glances at Thomas and then at me, were more than I could bare. I grabbed my last needed item and hightailed it to the checkout, out the door, and to my van, where I promptly fell to pieces.

What was I thinking? That I could possibly go to the store for once, just once, without one rude comment or one pointed stare? I can't get that on a normal day, what made me think I could get that on the day Thomas had two casts placed on his legs?

What was I thinking? I don't know. But I'll tell you what I thought when I got home. It's time to order some custom t-shirts. I want one to say "Yes, my mom broke them. Keep staring, you're next!" And maybe "I know I'm cute, but you don't have to stare." Or should I go right to the point "It's not polite to stare"? To be honest I didn't order any of them, but wouldn't it be great if I did?

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