WHAT IS TORTICOLLIS?

10:00 PM

 


    At Harrison's one month check up, I didn't expect the doctor to say anything. He was big, gaining tons, what seemed like every day, and beyond perfect. In the eyes of a parent, all their kids are perfect. Our pediatrician came in and did all her routine checks, told us how adorable he was, etc. Then started looked at his head. "Hm, looks like we've got a flat spot going on, and a bit of Torticollis, I'll refer you to a physical therapist." Those words flowed out of her mouth so fast, and I literally had time to blink and she was gone from the room. Torti-what?

    I started to worry. Josh could tell I was about to cry. Something was wrong with my baby? My baby?! Not to mention in that moment, I felt like the dumbest person alive. She said it all too casually as if I should have known what she was talking about. Now, I love our pediatrician. Don't get me wrong, most if not all of this is built up to be much worse in my head than it actually was.

T O R T I C O L L I S
tôrdəˈkäləs noun : a condition in which the head becomes persistently turned to one side, often associated with painful muscle spasms.

 Imagine me sitting in the office, waiting for her to come back as I googled away. Painful muscle spasms?! If I could go back in time, I'd dump a cup, no, one of those large celebratory Gatorade sized coolers of chill-the-heck-out on myself. Turns out, in most cases, torticollis is no big deal. 


    Even that very first physical therapy appointment was nerve racking. Between the week of the diagnosis to that first appointment, I spent a ton of time reading, asking a doctor friend, and trying to understand this newfound condition Harry had. I began noticing when I laid him down that his head would lean to one side, and felt a slight bit of mom guilt for not noticing it sooner. It wasn't until the end of that first appointment that I finally started to feel like I had some control over this situation. 

    Torticollis can happen to "stuck" babies. In my post about Harrison's birth story, I explained that we had to undergo an emergency c section due to a face presentation. Fancy doctor wording for: he was coming out face first. It was explained to me by our amazing physical therapist, that since he was stuck that way, for not a long time, but a considerable amount of time, it may have caused the favoring to the one side. This resulted in a minor flat spot and decrease in control of his neck. The good news? We caught it insanely early.

    At every diaper change, every time we did floor time, we did the exercises our physical therapist gave us. I wanted to believe what I was doing was making some sort of difference. I needed to think that whatever this was I could reverse it just by giving him the attention he needed. This meant making sure he was sleeping with his head resting the opposite way he was favoring. Encouraging him to look opposite the direction he was favoring, and so on and so forth. After two additional follow up appointments, we were cleared of the torticollis diagnoses. 

    I wrote this post today to ease the mind of the mom who will be googling this in the future. It's not your fault, and with some work, and attentiveness, you can and will reverse this. We were super lucky Harry did not have to undergo extreme physical therapy or even have to wear a helmet to help the flat area on his head. We listened, we learned and we took action. Torticollis, however scary it sounds, turned out to be just a big fancy word that taught us a very important lesson. 

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