Sunday, February 19, 2012

Caleb Goes in for Arm Surgery

Right after Christmas, Caleb had to have surgery on his arm.  

You may have never noticed, but he has a large bump on his right arm.  
When he was born, he had a small red mark on his arm which they called a strawberry hemangioma.  

It wasn't any big deal, but in the next few months of his early life, it began to grow and even began bleeding.

For years we had taken him to specialists who told us that it would fade away and flatten out and it was nothing to worry about, but as he grew, the bump grew as well.

The color seemed to lighten up, but the bump was not shrinking.  Here he was at 5 years old:

It is funny though, that it was always a big topic of his YouTube videos.  If people weren't commenting on his actual playing, they were asking, "Hey, what's that thing on his arm?!"  It goes to show how judgmental people can be.  

When he turned 9 years old, the doctor told Caleb that his arm was not going to get any better and that he needed to have the bump removed.  So, we went to a plastic surgeon and scheduled surgery to have the hemangioma removed from Caleb's arm.  

Caleb was very sad at first because he knew he would not be able to play the piano for a while after surgery.  He said that playing the piano was his favorite thing to do.  Even on the day of surgery, right before he went in, he played the hospital's baby grand piano just to have one last time to play.

He got all dressed up, had his special bear, Snowflake, with him, and was ready to go.

Surgery took a little longer than expected.  It turned out that Caleb's arm had a lot of blood vessels tangled in the hemangioma which all had to be cut and cauterized.  The surgeon had to scrape a nerve and we worried that Caleb might have some permanent nerve damage in his arm going down into his wrist and hand.
We wouldn't know for sure for a while, but we were very scared and saddened by the thought that Caleb might not be able to play the piano the same way as before.

We didn't say anything to Caleb.  He came home to recover with lots of pillows and his arm in a sling.

Caleb's incision was quite larger than we had previously expected.  

It was pretty scary trying to keep steri strips over the wound and hope we were doing it right.

As we returned back to the doctor, we were happy to discover that any nerve damage he received was limited to his middle arm.  His wrist and hand were not affected!  The areas that he cannot feel are all on the top part of his arm.  Caleb began noticing that he could not feel certain areas of his arm, so we informed him of what had happened.  Although Caleb was a little scared and sad at first, he has learned to be brave and not let it bother him.  We joke he can play volleyball without pain or he can survive a karate chop to the arm because he won't feel anything.  

Caleb went a few weeks before he could do anything too vigorous.  That meant no piano.  
He toughed it out though.  After 2 weeks, he got to be out of the sling, and with his arm still wrapped, he was given permission to slowly start back at playing the piano.  

Here was his first song attempt since surgery---Bach's Fugue 2 in C Minor:


He had to play it very gently and be careful not to bounce too much.  Caleb was just happy to be playing again, but he did long for the time when he could again play Pirates of the Caribbean.  

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