Saturday, January 16, 2010

The decision has been made…

Here’s the official update on Mike’s brace saga.

Last Thursday, we went to the orthopedic doctor.  He looked at his foot and said (obviously enough), yep – there’s a pressure spot with an open blister!  He then went on to explain what was actually causing our problem…

Mike’s Achilles tendon hasn’t “stretched” enough and is pulling his foot sideways in his shoe.  It doesn’t help that his feet are so small and we already have the smallest sized shoe (which is still a little big).  Our options were becoming limited.

We could continue modifying the brace (remember that we had it modified a last Tuesday but it hadn’t been on his feet yet), or we could cut the heel cord.

Being leery of surgery, especially on an 8-week-old baby, we thought it would be prudent to at least give this “untried modification” (and possibly one or two more) before we jump in to cutting heal cords.

But in an effort to do our due diligence and educate ourselves more, we asked the orthopedic doctor about this “cutting the heal cord”.  After all, it sound like something fairly horrible (perhaps more horrible than the brace). 

The procedure itself is called a “subcutaneous tenotomy”.  The procedure does indeed involve “cutting the heel cord”, but as it turns out, it’s not nearly as horrible as it sounds.  The surgeon merely “nicks” the tendon in order to relieve a little of the tension and allow it to stretch easier.  Then they put the legs and back in a cast for three weeks while the tendon heals.  Then it’s back in the brace.  That is the 10 cent explanation – if you are curious, you can google clubfoot tenotomy and read about it in much greater detail…

In the end, we left the doctors office Thursday morning with the idea of trying the latest modification to the shoes and brace.  We also thought that if we were still having problems, we could go back to the orthotics place on Friday to see if there was anything further they could do.  By Monday, the situation would either improve and we would stick with the brace – or it would not improve and we would go the tenotomy route.

By Thursday afternoon, Mike had been screaming for 5 hours straight – ever since the moment we put the brace back on.  I’m not talking about crying – or even crying very hard.  I’m talking about an all out, ear piercing scream.  And any parent that has heard their child scream like that KNOWS that SOMETHING has to be done RIGHT NOW.

As luck would have it, we got an email from a fellow clubfoot parent.  She told us about her son who had gone through a nearly identical situation with the Dennis Brown Brace.  And while she didn’t know that we had just seen the orthopedic doctor – and she didn’t know that Mike was smack in the middle of hysterics – and she certainly didn’t know how well timed her email would be. 

She told us of her son Mathew.  She had thought that he was a “colicky” baby and they had struggled with pressure sores from his brace.  Everybody was exhausted and at wits end.  Then Mathew had the tenotomy procedure.  After three weeks in a cast it was time to go back to the brace – and Mathew went back in without any more complaints OR pressure points!

So we called the orthopedic doctor Thursday and scheduled the procedure for Mike.  And the doctor is confident that the tenotomy will significantly reduce our brace issues.  And after hearing Mathew’s story, we are certainly more comfortable (and even cautiously optimistic!) that things are going to get better.

In the meantime, Mike is asleep on his grandma’s lap.  No matter what – life is good…

1 comment:

Jo-Ann said...

Oh gosh. I am so happy that Matthew's story helped out.

I too believe the tenotomy will help out. His feet will fit the shoes better and he will be much much happier, which will make you much much happier.

And, it sounds scary, but the tenotomy is quite simple.

Glad to hear you are confident in this latest step.