The Cranium People: Follow-Up

It's been a couple of weeks since the last post. Gads, I've been busy. Work, home, writing, etc. It's certainly not the way it used to be, back before we had our baby boy.

As the title suggests, we returned to Cranial Technologies today and picked up Stephen's helmet. It was a long appointment, because they wanted to make sure he would tolerate wearing it. I forgot to take the camera with us, so these pictures from tonight, after we returned home, will have to do.

Here's the little man, holding his helmet. It's light-weight, and while not incredibly stylish, he is pretty cute in it (see below).

If there's an ultimate test of "cute," it's whether someone still looks cute wearing something like this. I think the boy passes with flying colors.

Now, while we were at the clinic, we discovered a half-inflated "bouncy" ball with a giraffe pattern on it. I sat across from Stephen, and rolled/bounced it back and forth to him. This was a big hit. He squealed, he giggled, he did his "Chaka" noise and waved his arms. While he has ball-like objects at home, he'd never had a real one until tonight. I picked this one up for him on my way home. It's his eye ball. Nyuk.

Funny that such a simple thing would be so entertaining for him. We sat and rolled the ball for a long while, and he didn't seem to get bored as fast as I did. I just hope the occasional bouncing doesn't disturb our downstairs neighbors.

One other thing he likes: Cheerios. I bought a box of them last night, and I've been giving them to him (broken into halves) all day. He loves them. He opens his mouth like a little bird. I can put them in his hand, but he hasn't worked out how to open his fingers so that he can drop them into his mouth.

And here's a picture of the boy, looking lovingly at his mommy (who is sitting off-camera, of course).

The way I see it, a good many of the pictures of the boy over the next two or three months will include him wearing his headgear. Thus, I won't bore you with too many shots of it tonight. I think that, given time, it will definitely lose its novelty value.

They tell us that we should see some kind of improvement within a week. We go back for a follow-up next Wednesday, and then I think we'll be going in once every couple of weeks to make adjustments and monitor his progress.

That's it. Sorry it's been so long since the last update. Like I said: busy!


The Cranium People

Stephen's appointment at Cranium Central (at left) was relatively low-key, until they put a sock over his head and started coating it with plaster strips. I suppose I should start at the beginning, though. I'll keep it short -- I'm tired, and sleep and I haven't been on good terms for the past week or so.

It took us a half an hour to drive to the place, which is near as can be to Children's Hospital in San Diego (where the boy had his echocardiogram a few months back in an effort to explore a potentially dangerous heart murmur). We'd been there once before, for his consultation. I don't get much of a feeling off the place; it's just an office building for specialist doctors, I reckon.

We hit the elevator and rode it up to the fifth floor. Cranial Technologies must have the honeymoon suite, because the rest of the fifth floor (which we took a brief and unexpected tour of last time, due to turning the wrong way off the elevator) consists of a winding hallway that is punctuated by a single wooden door every so often. Some of them are even marked.

We signed our lives away, acknowledging the risks of the DOC band (there really aren't many, and those that they listed were more like inconveniences than horrible afflicitions -- dermatitis, heat rash, etc.), and then we were escorted to the wrapping room. We had to undress the child and take him in for his pre-casting photo shoot. They took pictures of him in every conceivable position. He was more or less cooperative, being familiar with cameras. He's a camera hog, too (as if you couldn't tell).

Then it was back to the wrapping room, where he got to stand in a walker/bouncer device that made all kinds of frightening noises until it was time to get his cranium cast in plaster of paris. They start with a sock-like piece of fabric that is stretched over the kid's head. They cut a little hole where his mouth is (making him look like a bank robber in a ski mask), and then they get to applying the cast.

I'm very sorry I didn't get any sort of photos of him with the cast on -- I spent the first part trying to keep him happy with a bottle, and the second half (which he spent sitting up) was probably some of the loudest and angriest crying I've ever heard him do. He wanted to reach up and mess with the cast, but we were obliged to restrict his movement. The boy does not like to be restrained, precious. No, not at all. ::gollum::

I do have "after" shots of him, though. This one is one of my favorites. He looks like he wants to slug his daddy for putting him through such a procedure. "Why, I aughta..." Pow! To the moon, pops!

This next picture actually gives a view of the cast itself, once it's been removed in two parts and reassembled. I guess they send it back to their workshop, and the cranium elves make a couple of models of the child's head bone out of it. The first is used in the manufacture of the DOC band itself, while the second is sent back as a reference cast. To think, my son has his very own bust at the venerable age of six months. What kind of underachiever am I? One with a round head, of course.

Stephen got his spirits back relatively quickly. When you consider just how upset he was, I expected him to come out of it with an intense fear of socks or ski masks. He merely stopped his crying (at left), and began to babble at his mother and I about the horrible experience he'd just gone through. Forced to sit still while someone coated his head with plaster! Oh, the agony! The hellish agony!

What next? I'll tell you: a bath.

Being as he was covered in fast-drying plaster (which crusted about his neck, shoulders, and was stuck in his hair in several spots), a bath was probably the best thing for him. He didn't struggle much, and once we had him dried off and dressed, he was back to his old happy self once more.

The drive home was guaranteed to be long and grueling. San Diego traffic isn't exactly the same thing as the infamous Los Angeles traffic, but it's still annoying. We got back on the road at 4:30pm, a very busy hour on I-15. Being as we were both hungry (and the boy was konked out in his car seat), the wife and I caught a quick bite to eat at a small restaurant in Scripps Ranch. The boy woke up halfway through our meal (left), and enjoyed having the waitress smile and coo at him.

Home again, home again, jiggety jig. We had to stop by the store for some necessities (like food, don't you know), but we finally made it home. As I put the groceries away, the kid chewed on the pumpkin his grandma bought him at Nate's Butt Farm last Sunday. He chews on everything these days, and I'll tell you why: teeth!

Stephen's mother discovered that his first tooth had cut through during his pre-casting bath. I guess he got a hold of her hand and gave it a chew, and to her surprise, the bite was a little more painful than normal due to the razor sharpness of his new incisor. We've been waiting for his first tooth to show up for a while now, so it's a relief. It's a new milestone; I guess we'll have to start brushing it now (I'm sure he'll love that).

On a different note, I've decided that I would like to try and begin teaching the boy baby signs. For those of you not in the know, baby sign is a way to communicate with pre-speech infants. I guess you teach them a simple form of sign language (which is based on American Sign Language, AFAIK), much like researchers in Africa teach chipanzees or apes to do the same.

Who knows when the boy will start to talk. He babbles and coos a lot right now, but it's not exactly Shakespeare. Consider how much you might learn from your pre-speech child if he/she is taught a 15-20 word sign language vocabulary. Being that he's six months old now, and can sit up on his own, we reckong that we may as well get moving on it. Besides, I think it will be something fun to do.

In any case, that was our day. The child is asleep in his crib as I type this, and I'm planning to be asleep in my own crib fairly soon, myself.

Special thanks to my grandparents, Betty and Bob, for helping us foot the bill for the DOC band. We couldn't have done it without them. When Stephen is breaking hearts in high school with his handsome smile and winning round head, he'll have his great-grandparents to thank for it.