Orcutt family heads back to Northfield after surgery
FCTS 9thgrade student John Orcutt in his Northfield home a week before his surgery. His parents, Ed and Leann Orcutt, can be seen in the mirror at left.
A new, synthetic replacement for the shrunken piece of Orcutt's skull fits snugly after his Thursday surgery.
The skull section that had to be removed and replaced to let pressure off of John Orcutt's brain last year had shrunk, and needed to be replaced.
NORTHFIELD — Local teen John Orcutt’s head surgery went well Thursday, and after a couple days recuperating in the hospital, he’s gone home to finish healing.
John and his parents, Ed and Leann Orcutt, left their Northfield home at 4:30 a.m. Thursday, to get to the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester for the surgery.
“We’ve hardly left the hospital,” said a weary Ed Orcutt Saturday afternoon. He and his wife camped out at the hospital, going to the cafeteria in shifts so their son would always have one of them by his side.
They didn’t leave until John Orcutt was discharged late Sunday morning.
Orcutt was injured last March, when the then 13-year-old was struck in the head by a stray ball at an indoor baseball practice at Pioneer Valley Regional School. He went home, but began to feel worse, and was rushed to UMass Medical Center by helicopter that night.
Doctors discovered that he had suffered more than a concussion. He was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm and stroke, and doctors had to cut a piece of his skull out to alleviate pressure on the boy’s brain.
The bone flap was then replaced, but since then it has shrunk significantly. The surgery Thursday removed that piece, and replaced it with a snugly-fitting synthetic.
The incision followed the existing scar on the left side of the teen’s head. It took more than thirty stitches to sew it back shut.
After his almost three-hour surgery, John Orcutt had a slight fever, and, understandably, a headache. But he’s doing well overall, and has been up and on his feet, taking several walks at the hospital while he waited for the OK to go home.
By the time he was cleared to leave Sunday, Orcutt’s headache had subsided and his mood had improved, but his appetite was going strong after a weekend of hospital food.
While the Orcutts were in the hospital, several doctors and nurses that treated John in the past popped in to see how he was doing.
“They really went out of their way to come say hi to John,” said his father. “They heard he was back, and wanted to stop in. They’re great here.”
The Orcutts’ friends and neighbors have also gone out of their way to help, by keeping an eye on their house, and taking care of the family’s cats, dogs and chickens while John Orcutt’s parents camped out at the hospital.
“Leann has been sleeping in the bedside chair,” her husband said Saturday. “I snuck out to a hotel for six hours to sleep; my leg was bothering me too much.” Ed Orcutt has been out of work on disability as he awaits reconstructive hip and shoulder surgeries.
Several friends and acquaintances have also stopped by the family’s Facebook page to offer their support and wish the teen a speedy recovery.
“We really appreciate everyone who’s prayed for us,” said Ed Orcutt, John’s father.
John Orcutt will go back for a follow-up on Dec. 14, to get his stitches out and see when he can return to school. The family expects he will have to wait until after the Christmas break to return to Franklin County Technical School, where the freshman student is taking up carpentry.
If the synthetic plate heals up well, the athletic Orcutt should be able to play sports without a helmet within a year.
To check on John Orcutt’s progress, or wish the family well, visit www.facebook.com/orcutt-family-fund-raising-page, where the Orcutts post regular updates.
David Rainville can be reached at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279