Journey by Amber Wallace

Four years ago, my youngest son was born. We quickly noticed his feet didn’t look “normal”, but were assured it was probably just “positional and would straighten out with some physical therapy”. His right foot was small and turned on its side, the left seemed much larger and flat. We were referred to a physical therapist and after taking a look she confirmed our fear that his feet were deformed and that we’d have to be referred to an orthopedic doctor.

When Howie was 4 weeks old, we met with a local doctor. She assessed him and determined he had right clubfoot and left vertical talus. Each foot had its own unique issue. Unfortunately she was only going to be able to treat the clubfoot as vertical talus is even less common so we were referred on to yet another doctor who could treat both. Luckily the treatment is similar for both so it wasn’t as big as deal as it seemed.

At 6 weeks we met the new doctor who would be treating him. She explained the whole process of a series of casts, full time bracing all the way to night time only. It was all so overwhelming! Before Howie I had no real knowledge of clubfoot, let alone vertical talus. He left her office in full leg casts that day.
The next couple months consisted of weekly cast changes, a small surgery to release the tendon in his left foot as well as repositioning of the talus bone. He handled it all so well! Of course we got the typical stares everywhere we went. I felt like I needed to have a sign that said “no I didn’t break his legs, drop him down the stairs, etc”.

It was soon time to graduate to bracing, often referred to as “boots and bar”. I was so excited because I could finally give him a real bath!! Not to mention be able to dress him in clothes that didn’t work with the casts. Of course he still couldn’t wear any of the cute little shoes he had, but that was the least of my worries.

The orthotics tech got Howie all set up in his braces and he literally screamed all the way home. I felt so helpless. How was I ever going to be able to make him wear this contraption for the next several years? The first couple of days were definitely an adjustment, but we made it through! We were very diligent about keeping him in it the required time and only removed when necessary...baths, etc.   The three months of full time wear passed by pretty quick and we were then on to nighttime only.

He was about 7 months old when he graduated to nighttime bracing. We were told he’d probably wear them to age 4 which seemed like an eternity away! We stuck with it, only having a few nights without (for various reasons) and I’m proud to say we are now brace free at night!! His feet are beautiful!
This journey has been such an eye opening experience. I can’t say it’s been easy, but all the hard work is paying off. Howie has been such a trooper through all of this. I am proud beyond words. He is my superhero!