Courage and Clubfoot: Part 2
Here we go again…
Our beautiful Olive has recently turned 17 months. She is a happy, calm, delightful baby. She has been walking whilst holding on to the tip of my little finger for some time now, but on New Years Eve took her very first steps. Four of them! Since then, we have all enjoyed counting how many she can do. I think the record so far is 11.
Our many attempts to catch her walking on film have failed miserably, but here are a few shots where you can kind of get the idea…
Enjoying her new ride-on, on Christmas morning.
This new found freedom has been wonderful for Olive.
She especially loved playing at the park on boxing day and being able to independently climb up the steps to the slide, then slide down the slide and repeat, and repeat, and repeat (you get the picture right?)
I loved how Josh took care of her for me and that I could look on and watch the pure joy on her little face, from one, very still and very sunny spot. Big brothers are wonderful!
In early December we visited a specialist doctor here, whose office was conveniently situated just a couple of blocks from our house, to check Olive’s feet. I was concerned about her left foot floating back out of position (Olive was born with bilateral talipes, or ‘clubfoot‘) and I thought she might need more surgery. The doctor we took her too told us that her right foot was perfect, but the left did need some surgery. He said it was unusual to see one foot regress but the other not. He described the operation to me and said he could do it before or after Christmas. We opted for after, so she could enjoy the Christmas season first. Olive also needed new shoes. When I asked the doctor about this he told me to just buy normal shoes for her now, and told me that after her operation she wouldn’t even need to wear her boots and bar again! Since her shoes were getting too small for her, we picked up some new ones at a Clarks shoe shop we found, at the outlets. She was thrilled with them! I was also excited to be able to get her, her first ‘proper’ or ‘normal’ shoes.
Olive enjoying her new shoes:
Once the initial excitement of this news settled down, I began to feel somewhat uneasy about the doctors visit. It just felt too good to be true, and I had a nagging feeling inside that we needed to find another specialist to take a look at her. We found another doctor, this time about an hours drive away, longer in traffic, but he seemed to be just what we were looking for. We made an appointment with Dr Colburn, who we found through a list of worldwide practitioners that we have, of specialists in the Ponseti method, which is used to correct clubfoot.
As soon as we to to the Doctors office, I felt reassured about our choice to look around further afield for a doctor. He asked Dave and I lots of questions about Olive’s treatment in England and examined her feet and legs. He explained everything clearly and well to us, using a model of a foot. He has lots of experience and is semi-retired now, but was trained by Dr Ponseti himself. We listened carefully to him, then my heart sank and I had to blink away tears as he explained to us that he didn’t think Olive’s feet had ever been fully corrected. It was his opinion that her treatment in England hadn’t been carried out properly. Olive needed to start over with her treatment. This meant going back to the casting process again.
I shared with him my concern that Olive had one leg slightly longer than the other. It turns out that she does have a significant difference in the length of her legs. I’m glad someone finally listened to me and took the time to explain what that meant and how it can be treated in the future… and it can be very successfully treated when she is around 10-14, but it will involve a couple of months of nuts and bolts through her bone and daily twisting of them to lengthen the shorter leg. My poor baby!!!
We started the process off again, then and there. Her first of probably four weekly casts. Then we’ll see whether or not another operation will be needed on her tendons. She will need to wear the boots and bar again. Dr Colburn said that ideally she’d wear them all of the time, but with her age that is just impractical so she will probably be allowed around 4 hours off. She’ll also have to wear them at night until she is around 5 years old. (What a joker that other doctor was, eh?)
Here is Olive feeling sorry for herself after her first casting session. She wouldn’t let me stop holding her for about two days straight (and those casts are heavy!) Her desperate cuddles pull at the heartstrings.
I can’t get used to hearing her feet or leg being described as ‘deformed’, but I suppose that is what they are. To me though, Olive is perfect. She is an absolute joy and I love her. She fills up my heart and our home completely. I am so grateful for modern medicine and technology that I know will completely correct her feet and legs. I feel blessed that we’ve found Dr Colburn. Despite the bad news we got, we came away feeling so happy that we’d found someone we trusted. I know there are much worse things we could be dealing with. Her treatment will probably last a couple of months this time around, and about the same when she’s older for her leg. In the grand scheme of things that isn’t much trouble for lifelong correction and the joy that will bring our little peach.
Her misery didn’t last long either, here she is a few days after her first casting enjoying the sun on Daddy’s shoulders as we wander around the farm. And she can hurtle up our stairs like nobody’s business, not to mention all the cool sliding she can do across our wooden floors!