Thursday, June 2, 2011


First two excuses for why it has been so long.  Number one between Oklahoma, Kyle out of town and Allen's surgery I've been a bit busy.
Then when I wasn't busy it was the end of the month.  For some unknown Belgian type reason our internet connection speed slows down to a snail's pace at the end of the month.  Doing anything on the internet takes incredible patience.  I don't have incredible patience so I do only essential email during the last few days of the month.

OK on to surgery...

A year ago May Allen broke his arm in spectacular fashion.  This necessitated surgery to put his two right forearm bones back together.  After the surgery his arm gained two metal plates, thirteen screws and two scars, one wicked looking and one more tame.

Last May shortly after surgery - scar not bad yet
Fast forward to now.  Two plates and thirteen screws are no longer necessary to hold Allen's arm together and were irritating his muscles.  After consulting with three different doctors it was decided that the best course of action was to remove the hardware.  The Belgian orthopedist who did the surgery was also offended by the wicked looking scar and was determined to give Allen a cleaner looking scar.

Yes we did consider returning to the states for this operation.  We know US health care and we are still getting to know Belgian health care.  In conversations with the Belgian surgeon and Americans in the area we felt confident that we would get good care here and that the procedure was a relatively minor one.  So we went ahead with arrangement for Allen to have surgery here.

Yes I was a worried mom, who wouldn't be?  But I also observed all the little differences between our US system and what went on in the hospital here.  Here is what I noticed -

1.  In pre and post op the doctors and nurses don't wear gloves.  Yes they wash their hands but they are not constantly changing gloves.  This was good for us as Allen does have a latex allergy.

2.  Patients wait in pre-op alone.  No family, no pastor.  They just lay on their bed and wait.  Unless.. they have a pushy mom.

3.  There wasn't any initialing of the limb to be operated on.  For his first surgery, Allen marked his obviously broken arm and the surgeon signed it as well.  In this hospital I guess they figured that the pre-existing scars and common sense were a good guide.

4.  Medical info is not to be shared with the patient.  I was given a sealed envelope to take back to SHAPE for Allen's doctor/medical records.  Allen's SHAPE doctor opened it and showed it to me.  It said that Allen had had surgery to remove the hardware in his arm.  This was a secret??

All in all everything went well.  It certainly wasn't necessary to return to the US for this procedure and I would say I grow more and more confident of the medical care available here.  One note though, speaking French was necessary and if I didn't have the language facility I have, the day would not have gone as smoothly.  SHAPE does provide an English speaking liaison but only at the Mons hospital which I have not heard good things about.

Allen is doing well.  He is still bandaged.  His stitches will need to remain in for another couple of weeks so we'll see about the scar.   He is using the arm as normal without complaint.  Scar update to come eventually...

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