HR boy recovers well from skull surgery

Adrian Metta waves with his fingers spread like flower petals, his round-eyed smile and adoring look at his mother and father as typical as any 11-month-old making sense of the world.

But the last three months of Adrian’s life have been anything but normal for Adrian and his parents, John and Jessica Metta of Hood River.

Adrian underwent cranial vault reconstruction surgery on Sept. 17 at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland. The surgery corrected a birth defect known as craniosyntosis, which affects one in 2,000 infants. Adrian and his twin sister, Cecelia, were born Nov. 14, 2012.

Pajama drive comforts other families

The Mettas are organizing a pajama drive to help other families whose children are undergoing craniosyntosis surgery.

A national organization, Cranio Care Bears, provided the Mettas with sleepwear during Adrian’s hospitalization, and they want to pay back.

New pajamas may be dropped off at Cutie Pie, Fourth and State, and at DelCarpine Automotive, 1405 Barker Road.

A few important details:

n Front zipper or button only — no pullovers — in sizes 3 months to 5T.

n The drive will continue through October.

n Financial donations may go to Cranio Care Bears.

“His face looked a little funny and his head was shaped a little funny, and sometimes kids come out looking that way and it corrects,” Jessica said.

With craniosyntosis, the sutures, or seams, linking skull plates fuse prematurely. (With most people, full fusion takes place around age 20.)

“The only way to fix it is this massive surgery, where they basically reconstruct your skull,” said John.

Adrian’s doctor, Maria Czarnecki of Hood River, caught the problem early and Adrian seems to be making a full recovery.

“He was always rambunctious, and at day four after the surgery, he was just as rambunctious again,” John said.

His parents could immediately see the improved proportions of Adrian’s face and eyes.

Jessica said doctors don’t know what causes craniosyntosis, but there are theories.

“He was born on the bottom, and it’s believed that can have an effect,” Jessica said.

Some people believe it’s because of being “squished,” she said, adding though that singletons can also develop craniosyntosis.

Whatever the cause, early detection was critical.

“Our doctor noted early on that his soft spot was closing, and that can be a trigger that craniosyntosis is happening. It finally closed, and in July she referred us to Doernbecher.

“We are very grateful to Dr. Czarnecki. She was right on it, and often parents have to convince their doctors to diagnose for it,” Jessica said.

“It’s not just cosmetic surgery, because it puts pressure on the brain where it shouldn’t be,” she said. “The skull will grow out elsewhere and it can lead to all kinds of developmental problems and even to blindness.”

Jessica also credited “awesome online support groups,” including Cranio Care Bears, which inspired the Mettas to start a pajama drive for other families (see sidebar).

Jessica said the team of neurosurgeons and plastic surgeons decided to wait until 9-12 months to operate.

“They found it early on, but they we had to wait and that’s the hard part,” Jessica said. The six-hour surgery was on a Tuesday, and Adrian went home that Friday.

“His brain was under more pressure than they thought when they went in, and they were really glad they did it,” John said.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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