Boy Band

by statia on March 9, 2008

I want to tell you about how I’m dealing with the Mini turning one, because, you know, there’s a whole lot that goes into turning one, but first, I wanted to write something here about our experience so far with the whole banding thing. I read a post over at City Girl’s site regarding Bat Girl’s recent experience with trying to get an appointment to have Bat Girl’s plagio corrected. I think my comment in regards to her experience in trying to make the appointment was: “That’s BULLSHIT.”

Bat Girl is one month older than the Mini, and the asshole receptionist on the phone, basically telling her “too fucking bad, asshole, you’re shit out of luck” attitude really pissed me off.

I’m not a fan of pediatric neurosurgeons. Not in regards to their complete nonchalant attitude about banding. Most (and I realize that this isn’t all of them) neurosurgeons will brush a parent off for something they consider mild. Especially if they’re on the later end of the spectrum. A lot of them aren’t pro banding unless it’s a more severe case. According to our neurosurgeon, I was high and “what are you talking about? There’s nothing wrong with his head, but I’ll write you a scrip if you want to unnecessarily band your kid for cosmetic reasons. Good luck getting insurance to pay for that. ha ha ha.”

When we went in for our original appointment, the Mini was only 6.5 months old. Definitely at an optimal age for banding, but the doctor told us that at his age, banding wouldn’t make much difference. Both he and our pediatrician made it seem as if it would get better on its own and his head would eventually round itself out. We had been trying to reposition him for six months at that point, with no real luck. After two months, I still had an unsettled nagging feeling, and I finally said something to the Meester right before Christmas, that I still wanted to get him banded. If it were a case where his hair would grow in and he’d have a nice lush head of hair for the rest of his life, I might not be so inclined to have him banded. But he’s got baldness in his future, and I don’t want him to have to go through life being called Charlie Brown.

Right after Christmas, I called the neurosurgeon back and had him write the scrip. Everything after that moved really quickly, due to my own pushing, as the difference between banding an 11 month old, versus a 7 month old is that time is of the essence. Time is always of the essence when you’re banding, but growth slows down considerably around nine months or so.

We got our band just shy of the Mini turning 11 months. He’s been in the band about a month and a half and we’ve already noticed a difference. His head still isn’t perfect and it’ll never be perfectly round, just as no one’s head is perfectly round. But it’s enough of a difference that we’re already happy with the results. We’ve had a few band breaks. One at his second adjustment where he was out of the band for two days because of rubbing on his head, and we gave him a band break on his birthday, because the birthday rule was “no helmets on birthdays.”

I thought for sure that the Mini would have to be in it for at least 6 months, but the orthoist that we’ve been working with says only 3-4 months. I can live with that, and it’s gone fast.

This is kind of all over the place. But if you’re looking to band your baby, I’m hoping you can learn something from our experience.

1. If you have a nagging feeling, always trust the Mama (or Daddy) instinct. If it’s something you really want to pursue, then don’t let your pediatrician or any other doctor stand in your way.

2. If you’re not happy with a neurosurgeon, talk to a pediatric plastic surgeon. You may have better luck.

3. One of the things we were VERY lucky with was insurance coverage. I thought for sure we would have a fight, and I was ready to take on an appeal war to get it covered. I would have paid either way, but my thought was that we pay a lot of money for insurance, and in principle, they should cover it because it’s not just a cosmetic reason. Some insurance companies are better than others, but don’t be afraid to appeal.

4. It’s not too late. Optimal age for banding according to most people you talk to is about 4-6 months. You get the fastest correction at this age, that’s true, but you can still get some results as late as up to 18 months. Some will even band as late as 24 months, but you’ll definitely be in the band longer at that age. One of the forums I’ve been posting on has a baby who was just banded at 17 months. So all hope is not lost. Keep in mind, you probably won’t get the same amount of correction at that age, but you will definitely still see some correction. Like I said, we’re already happy with the Mini’s results and if our orthoist told us tomorrow that he was done with banding, we’d be ok with that.

5. Research. I was really REALLY pissed off about waiting for so long. Our pediatrician in California told us that no one would even consider looking at a child until they were at least 6 months old, and so we waited, like schmucks to make the appointment, only to have the neurosurgeon tell us that six months is too late. A. Six months is by no means late. B. They will band earlier than that, if your baby can hold his or her head up. I wish I would have pushed more, and done more research, but given that we really had no idea, I sat on the fence for a long time, just being angry. I felt like I had gotten screwed, and that was partially my fault. In the end it worked out rather well, as the day we got the band, the Mini started walking with more regularity. I thought it would have impeded him from walking, but that didn’t really happen, and as much as babies fall when they first start walking, I hyperventilate a lot less because he’s got something padding his noggin when he hits his head. But if you’re on the fence, don’t wait. Even if it’s just to make a decision not to band. Do your homework and then make your decision. That way you’re not sitting in limbo like us.


Merrin March 9, 2008 at 10:59 am

All good advice, and as the daughter of a pediatric neurosurgeon, I’d also add this: If you aren’t satisfied with what the doctor is telling you, find another one. Most neurosurgeons are hard-headed, but if you shop around, you’ll find one who knows his/her stuff and will actually listen to you. That’s how my dad grew his practice—by being the guy who listened, and he banded a LOT of babies.

jesser March 9, 2008 at 7:35 pm

You’re a very good parent for sticking with your instincts and not letting some know-it-all doc push you around. And this is good info for lots of parents out there.

Deltus March 9, 2008 at 10:13 pm

You go! Doctors with closed minds and shitty attitudes piss me off.

Tuesday March 10, 2008 at 10:07 am

We skipped the neurologist and went from ped to banding co. We fought and appealed our insurance company for which company we wanted to work with and we lost, so he did get one fully covered jsut not from where I wanted to go.
My son’s head is great after 5 months of the band and his facial assymetry is no longer noticable but his head is not perfect, except to us.

: )

Christine Schroeder March 13, 2008 at 1:35 pm

You’re so right about instinct! I had very similar experiences with a different issue when my son was about 5. If I knew then what I know now… but that’s so great for you to know that so early on in motherhood.

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