Thursday, April 8, 2010

Starting off on the right foot

When Noah and I are out shopping or going for a walk with his stroller, I'm often asked by others about my son's "interesting" shoes.
Because Noah was six weeks premature, we had a lot of pressing concerns while he was in the hospital. But another issue that had our attention was that Noah was born with clubfeet, a genetic disorder that causes the feet to pull inward and downward. We were immediately assured by doctors that his condition, though somewhat alarming, was not a severe case and that he was a good candidate for the correction process called the "Ponseti Method."
While he was in the NICU, we were shown several stretches to help his feet and legs gain in strength and retain their flexibility. After Noah had been home for a week or so, we took him for his first orthopedic surgeon visit. The doctor wrapped Noah in two casts that extended from his feet up to about the mid-point of his thigh. These casts gradually corrected the direction of his feet, helping them to point upwards and outward.
Noah did not react as the casts were being wrapped up his legs, but once the casts dried and he tried to draw his legs upward into the position that all newborns find comforting, he began screaming and crying. Like any parent, that sound tore at my heart, and I began crying myself.
The first 24 hours with the casts were the toughest. I was able to calm Noah by holding him, but when we laid him down to sleep, he would re-discover that something was weighing down his legs and the crying would begin anew. Gradually he became used to the casts, but they presented some problems we were not prepared for, such as hindering his attempts to have a bowel movement, with him being unable to draw up his legs or push against anything to aid in the movement. Overall, though, Noah responded as well as could be expected to the ordeal. He even cooed and smiled when the doctor had to reapply the casts each week.
Noah was lucky to only have five weeks worth of casting. His doctor was very impressed with the response of his feet to the treatment. We were even more blessed in that Noah did not have to have the heel surgery that clubfoot babies often have to have in order to allow the full flexibility of their achilles tendon.
Now Noah is supposed to wear a brace fitted between two custom shoes that will help keep the proper alignment of his feet until he is crawling and walking. I say "supposed to" because my crafty baby has figured out a way to slip his feet out of the shoes at will. I will spend several minutes getting the shoes on his feet, only to turn my back for a second and find one shoe flopping back and forth. Noah generally greets me with a grin at this moment, as if to say "look what I can do!"
Though not an easy process, Kris and I are very grateful for the medical care and attention that has been given to our son for this condition. We are very hopeful that, in the future, he will be able to participate in any sports or activities that interest him.

2 comments:

  1. Aw...poor thing.

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  2. Hey cuz! Fancy meeting you in blogland. :)

    Noah is too cute! Can't believe i still haven't met the little guy. I am glad that they have ways to help little ones now, that they can grow up to live very normal lives.

    Happy Sunday!

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