On March 11, 2020, Dr. Scher performed double hip surgery on my 12-year-old son Matthew. On March 16th, HSS was shutting down due to COVID-19 and Matthew was the last patient to be discharged. As a parent we stress during our child’s surgery, but having surgery during a pandemic, your stress level is intensified. My mind raced as to how was I going to change bandages and how Dr. Scher could examine Matthew through a virtual visit.
A week later during the first virtual visit, Dr. Scher was instructing me which terry strips to take off so he could see the incision better. He patiently explained everything he saw and how nicely Matthew was healing. Following the surgery, every virtual visit we had positive feedback to give Dr. Scher. Matthew’s hips were symmetrical, and he no longer seemed in discomfort. He was finally able to move both legs with no restrictions, his leg discrepancy was gone, and Dr. Scher finally cleared him for virtual physical therapy. Virtual PT because HSS was still closed. My first thought how could virtual PT be effective.
Well, I was proven wrong. From our first session with Samantha Sawade, PT at HSS, she gave us step by step illustrations and instructions on ranging Matthew’s legs. Once Matthew was cleared for weight bearing, she walked us through putting him on his Stander and how to adjust the equipment. With Samantha’s encouragement and virtual assistance, we were able to place Matthew on his special needs bicycle and gait trainer. This was something he was not able to do prior to the surgery because of his hip dysplasia. Samantha gave us valuable exercises to strengthen not only Matthew’s legs but his torso and head. He now holds his head up for longer periods at a time and quite often when on his peanut ball he uses his legs to push off. Every session with Samantha we either learned a new exercise or a valuable suggestion to address positional or equipment problems.
HSS is not just a hospital to me, it has been a place full of possibilities for Matthew and it has shown me what Matthew could do with the right professionals on his team. His school-based therapist has seen improvement in Matthew since the surgery and PT. Thanks to Dr. Scher who took his time on our very first visit to examine Matthew, explain his condition, and go in detail how it could be fixed. To this day he still takes his time in examining Matthew and is patient through all my questions. Thank you to the nurses who took such good care of Matthew and took their time in showing me how to move him after surgery. Thank you, Samantha Sawade, for teaching me. Your skills and knowledge are invaluable!