I’m honoured to be hosting this post by Lauretta who blogs at Home and Horizon about her family’s journey:
Dealing with clubfoot one step at a time.
“It looks like your baby has bilateral talipes”. Those words I still remember very clearly now, some 12 years later.
The sonographer was very matter of fact; what were just words to her meant the world to me. We didn’t even know what she meant; even when she told us our baby had Clubfoot, we were still baffled.
How could my baby be deformed? What would this mean for his development? What would the treatment be? How did it happen? I had 101 questions and I wasn’t getting any answers.
All the hospital told us was that our son would have gait development problems, pains as he goes through puberty and he’d most likely walk with a limp.
To correct the clubfoot we were told that he would require at least one, maybe two or three operations on his feet.
A big black cloud
In the next few weeks following the scan, I was withdrawn and depressed. It was my family who remained positive and it was my mum and my husband who eventually pulled me through my darkest days.
I ended up having an amniocentesis, where they injected me with a long needle to take a sample of amniotic fluid. From here they’d be able to tell if there was anything else wrong with the baby.
I was also given the option of having an abortion. I couldn’t give my son up just because he had deformed feet; we would get through this and we’d all come out stronger. I was beginning to feel more positive.
It pays to do your research
I started to do more research online about Clubfoot – and once I started, I couldn’t stop. I could tell you everything about the condition at one stage.
And my perseverance paid off. I found out about a procedure called The Ponseti Method, which essentially treated clubfoot by gentle manipulation of the feet.
Every week for about four or five weeks, our son’s feet would be manipulated into a different position and plaster casts would keep them there as he grew.
Once they were in the correct position, he would then wear special boots held in position by a bar (brace) for 24 hours a day for three months. Then his time in the brace would be reduced until he was ready to come out of them when he was about four years old.
It was a more long-winded way of treating him, but it was pain free and they’d be no operations. Also, the treatment had a high success rate.
We fought tooth and nail to get our son (who we named Luis) treatment using the Ponseti Method.
Fortunately we found a doctor in Maidstone – less than ten miles from where we lived – who had been trained in the procedure and once Luis was born we went to visit her.
My research online also led me to discovering a charity called STEPS. I began to email other mums going through the same thing as me – and this in itself provided a great source of support, particularly in the early days.
Throughout Luis’ treatment I wished more people had asked what was wrong with him. Maybe it was just me being paranoid, but I often caught people staring at Luis when he was in his plaster casts and boots and bar. Sometimes they’d look accusingly at me – as if I’d harmed him in some way – and that was quite hard to deal with.
Nevertheless, Luis responded really well to his treatment and he even managed to get about by crawling – and even walking – in his boots and bar. He was such a brave boy and very rarely made a fuss.
Luis is now at secondary school and is doing really well. You would never know in a million years that he had been born with clubfoot.
Right now he’s wearing insoles in his school shoes as we noticed his ankles have started to protrude a little, but this causes him no pain – and he certainly doesn’t have any gait development issues.
I wish I could have taken a look into the future all those years ago to know that everything turned out just fine.
Just recently we took Luis to have some verrucas removed and the chiropodist was amazed to learn he had been born with clubfoot.
He then told me that some people abort their babies when they find out they have clubfoot and it was my turn to be amazed.
Every now and then I remind myself of those doctor’s words; the one who told me Luis would always have pains, would probably limp and would never be good at sports.
The reality is that Luis has been chosen for his school rugby team and is a fantastic, strong swimmer who recently completed a 5,000m swimming marathon – the only child at his swimming pool to do so. Proud mum? You bet!