Excitement and improvement

Jessica decided that we should name Namine’s palatal prosthetic. She and Namine settled on “Pat.” I don’t know. My girls are weird sometimes. It’s up to me to establish normalcy in this family. My cross to bear, I guess.

Naming the prosthetic does a couple things. First, it familiarizes it. If Hermione Granger is correct (and she rarely isn’t), then the reverse must also be true. We’ll see. By this point, though, Namine isn’t really afraid of wearing it. We’re past getting her used to the prosthetic Pat, I think. Namine went a solid six hours on Friday – another full hour past Thursday.

On Saturday, she didn’t wear it at all. (We felt she deserved a break, and I dare you to disagree with me.) We did, however, go out for pizza at Organ Piper. Now that Namine’s chest is healed, I can finally dance with her the way we used to.

Then yesterday she wore the prosthetic again, this time for a full eight hours with no problems. (Fried chicken is tricky, but she told me “I’m fine, Daddy!” and dealt.) To be fair, Namine is still getting used to the prosthetic. After a full day of wearing it – through speaking and eating – her speech can get a little harder to understand. (I can completely understand why, though; I remember how hard it was at times to speak through my retainer. At least I could take the damned thing out when I ate.) But she doesn’t complain most of the time (come on, she’s five), and she hasn’t had any difficulty breathing (very important), eating, or drinking (those are important too). And her speech while the prosthetic is in improves day.

But even though Namine isn’t afraid of wearing the prosthetic, she is still sometimes afraid of putting it in. But come on, how eager would you be to do something that makes you feel like you’re choking, without fail? Yeah, I didn’t think so. No, the real hurdle every day isn’t wearing the prosthetic, but getting it in and out of her mouth. Actually, taking it out is not that bad. But getting it in is still difficult (although I will be the first to admit that since I have less practice, Jessica is much better at it than I).

When we took Namine to the appointment at which we received her prosthetic, the prosthodontist instructed us — very specifically — to insert it into her mouth at an angle and, once it was past her lips, then straighten it out. As a general rule, this might work out. I guess. But every child is different, and every time we try this angles approach, Namine throws up. Without fail. Putting it in straight, on the other hand, gags her somewhat but doesn’t cause her to throw up. So screw what the doctor says about The One True Way, we’re going to go with Option That Doesn’t Result In Vomit.

When Namine was first learning to speak, she called me “Haha,” her version of “Papa.” When she still had her tracheostomy, she couldn’t really make consonants of any sound, and this was just easier. As her speech has improved, “Haha” has slowly gone away. Now I am “Papa” or “Daddy” (or just “Daaa-aaad” when she’s perturbed). But something that does not escape my attention: at the end of the day, when the prosthetic has tired her out and she’d rather grunt than talk (to which we feign ignorance), she calls me Haha. I suspect it has more to do with it being easier to say than anything with hard consonants. No matter. In the evening, when the day wanes and she’s my baby again, I’m her Haha. Even for a little while.

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