For the past several years, Will has occasionally been seeing a cranial osteopath. This is a doctor (D.O.) who has gone through 4 years of homeopathic medical school and uses minute amounts of pressure in his fingers to manipulate the bones of the skull to enable better flow of cerebral spinal fluid. Sounds scary, right? Especially when your child has a shunt.
The idea of seeing a cranial osteopath was first mentioned to me by Stara, who said that many parents in the Miracle League were doing it with their children with special needs. And while certainly not a miracle cure of any kind, it was helping those children in different ways. I was intrigued, so I did some more digging. My friend's sister is also a D.O. and said that cranial osteopathy is a very subtle experience (she had done it), and wholeheartedly thought that it might help with Will's moods. At this point, I mentioned it to my most trusted of Will's M.D. doctors and neurosurgeons ("western" doctors), who also gave cranial osteopathy a ringing endorsement. They told me it couldn't hurt anything and would most likely provide some kind of benefit.
Will was right around a year old when we first started going. The osteopath's office is located in the holistic health center with chiropractors, massage therapists and acupuncturists ("eastern" doctors). Not a hospital like we're used to! This was a new experience for us both. The guy put his hands on Will's head ever so gently, moved them around a bit between his head, neck, and base of his spine, and Will was just peaceful the whole time. To me, it appeared as though nothing happened. The osteopath said he thought that Will would feel better after the session, and he'd recommend coming back in a couple of weeks.
At first I was skeptical because it really appeared as though nothing had actually happened at the appointment. Anyone who knew Will back then will remember that he was a really crabby kid. Within a week of the first cranial osteopathy appointment, Will's general mood elevated. He was just happier. And then he started sleeping better after the next appointment.
I still thought it could be a fluke. I told people that we were seeing a chiropractor just to avoid funny looks when I explained where we were going. You talk about moving around skull bones and people get freaked out.
After about 6 months of appointments, the osteopath was familiar with Will. Just before Labor Day, he set his hands on Will and was immediately startled. He said that the typical "vibrating" that he usually felt in Will's head was gone. He wondered if Will was finally not nervous to go to the appointments. We just kind of shrugged it off.
That night, Will had his first shunt malfunction. I firmly believe that what the osteopath felt was Will's cerebral spinal fluid NOT moving through his shunt. This is something that typically requires a lumbar puncture or a shunt tap in the ER to diagnose.
After a couple more months of regular appointments, we decided that Will could be seen less frequently. Every couple of months, we would go in for a "tune up" and things would go well with moods and sleeping. After we moved, we were farther away and could go less frequently. But when Will is really having a tough time with being agitated or irritated or just crabby, we know it is time to make an appointment with the osteopath.
Will has his adenoids removed in March 2010. Before the surgery, he was sleeping well through the night. We expected him to sleep poorly for a couple of nights after surgery, however several weeks after the surgery, he was still waking several times per night. We took him to see the osteopath, but didn't mention anything about the surgery. He put his hands on Will and immediately asked if Will had had surgery any time recently. The osteopath could feel where Will's neck had gotten "bound up" when they tipped his head back for the breathing tube during surgery.
Kind of spooky, right?
Over the past 10 months, Will hasn't really needed to see the osteopath. He's been in a pretty good mood most of the time, tolerating changes in life, and continuing to advance. But for the past couple of weeks, he has been really crabby. He spent one whole day at school just screaming. He hasn't been sleeping well again. It dawned on me that Will needed some cranial osteopathy.
We went in today for an appointment. Will laid down and was immediately calm. I think he remembered the office. The osteopath laid his hands on Will's head, then lower onto his spine. He asked me if Will had had a virus in the past couple of weeks, like one with a high fever.
You mean the one that he had less than 2 weeks ago?!?! Seriously. The virus that started Will's night of seizures gave him a fever of 103.
The osteopath manipulated Will's head, neck and spine as I had watched him do for so long. Will was unusually tolerant. And when we left, Will was happy. And he stayed that way for the rest of the day. He was happy through physical therapy, and went to sleep without a peep.
I already have our next appointment set up. We'd like to keep Will at a happy place rather than get to a low place before we go again!
I wish I could tell you what undergoing cranial osteopathy felt like, but I don't know. All I know is that it allows Will to be in the best mood possible to tackle his life. Read about it here if you're interested.