Tuesday, October 30, 2007

R Heads R Better

Back many, many moons ago when we lived in Seattle, every time we drove by the Rainier brewery, D would amuse himself by chanting (in some sort of weird pseudo-robot voice), "Our heads are better!" Apparently in some previous incarnation there had been an ad for Rainier Beer that incorporated this pithy saying. And when it comes to beer, there is no possibility of my husband EVER forgetting any minutiae connected with it. (D loves his beer. Boy does he love his beer. Maybe I'll cover that in some future post.)

Be that as it may, I find myself thinking of that phrase now, since indeed, the boyos' heads are now demonstrably better, or at least a tittle more symmetrical than they were when we started. (Is tittle a real word? Heck with it; I like it. I unilaterally declare it a real word! Even though I suspect that using it minus the usual "jot and" is against the Word Police rules.)

We made the trek down to Santa Clara (about 2 hours from here -- a long drive but luckily the boys slept most of the way) roughly a month ago, and met Dr. GQ. Dr. GQ is one of those snazzy docs who wears verrrrrry expensive ties and French cuffs, and also has published papers on the subject of plagiocephaly and oh, by the way, just happens to have been a Fulbright scholar. Despite all this, he's quite likeable. He breezed in, poked around on the boys' heads for about 20 seconds, and then gave us the five-minute lecture on plagiocephaly and using helmets to correct it. Or, of course, not. (That sounds too brief but since we were already well versed in what he covered, it was more than enough.)

He also used calipers to measure the boys' heads diagonally, first in one direction and then in another. Each direction should have had the same measurement. In point of fact, both boys were off by more than a centimeter. Dr. GQ had already informed us in his little lecture that his cut-off point for recommending helmet use was one centimeter. He said that even if heads were out of alignment one centimeter or more, they would usually fix themselves -- but it could take all the way until they were adults (meaning that kids go through the formative years with "Charlie Brown head syndrome"), and also, there is a small percentage who do not self-fix. And of course those poor people who do not self-fix and who end up with asymmetrical heads are generally not very pleased about it.

That, plus the fact that Humongous HMO would cover the cost of the helmets ($3,000! Each! Three freakin' grand, can you believe it?) decided us in short order. Helmets all around! And one for you too, barkeep!

Rather luckily, the facility in Oakland that makes the type of helmet we are using had an opening for us that afternoon. So we grabbed some wretched McDonalds' food and buzzed back onto the highway for another hour, up to Oakland. The boys eventually fell asleep, but their car seats are clearly not overly comfortable, and they were getting a little testy about being crammed into them for hours on end at this point.

We had a bit of an adventure getting to the Oakland office, since I had misunderstood a tiny but crucial bit of the directions as given to me over the cell phone, but I'll gloss over that quickly since the whole thing was, ahem, my fault. We got there eventually and were wafted right in to the tiny office by the young man who does the helmet fittings.

Fitting Guy said he has done thousands of helmet fittings, and indeed, it's rather obvious, just watching him work. This type of helmet uses measurements taken by laser, of all things -- the same kind of laser scanner used by the checkout at your grocery store. Fitting Guy tied tiny little white "do rags" over each of the boys' scalps and positioned them, one at a time, in the head scanner. Sam got a good scan in two tries (wiggling screws up the image, as you can imagine!) and Gus took only one try. It was fascinating to see the 3-D computer models of their heads as shown immediately on Fitting Guy's screen. (What was even more fascinating, in a queasy sort of way, was noting the way both boys' heads are noticeably "squished" in a diagonal direction.)

We picked out "themes" for the helmets (I picked out rockets and sailboats, both on a blue ground, but called back the next day and changed it to a plain blue one and a plain yellow one instead -- I had some notion at the time of painting them with tiny little murals but I think I'm going to blame that one on the superglue fumes there at the office). We fed the boys their bottles there at the helmet office (we had fed them their previous bottles at Dr. GQ's office) and got on the road for the hour-plus drive home -- which was not much fun, since Sam decided he had HAD IT with his car seat for the day -- not that I blame him -- and he fumed and fussed and carried on for most of the way home. I just about dislocated my arm turning around in my seat and re-shoving the binky in his wailing little mouth every thirty seconds. Then I had to drop D off at the university to teach his evening class, and finally got home (with sleepy Gus and the still-wailing Sam) to put the boys to bed by myself. Oy. Long day.

And a long post already. More on this anon.


Blogger Suz said...

We got sailboats and starry night, but I like the yellow and blue, too. HMO covering the helmets...woohooo!

5:09 AM  
Blogger moo said...

Grea news on HMO coverage - that is fantastic! Long day indeed.

4:49 PM  

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