When should you seek a second opinion? When your gut tells you. Not a doctor, not your parents, not your friends, but deep in your gut when you feel something just isn’t right. As a mom I’m constantly finding new lessons and this one I won’t ever forget.
When Wyatt was about two I noticed that his ankles turned in, so at his 2 year check-up I brought up my concerns. Our pediatrician, who I love, said to wait a year and re-visit the issue. Between 2 & 3 there is so much growing that maybe this problem would fix itself, but keep an eye on it. Sure, to me it made sense. I had no thought of questioning his opinion. A year went by with no changes, so we were referred to see a physical therapist. We continued therapy and inserts for over 2 years with no improvements. Last summer I read an article that prompted me to call a pediatric orthopedic office. I went over my concerns and asked if this is something they’d look at and the answer was yes. All it took was one simple phone call to our pediatrician to get a referral and I got in a week later, luckily just before school started.
We went into this appointment thinking maybe there was something wrong with his ankles, or that we’ll need more physical therapy. The doctor examined Wyatt’s feet, his walk, his stance, and told us that the only option we have is surgery. The problem wasn’t his ankles but his Achilles Tendons. They’re too short. Usually a sign of this is that the child would walk primarily on their tip toes, but he managed to walk flat footed with his feet turned in. No amount of physical therapy or orthotic inserts would have fixed Wyatt’s problem. We agreed to the Achilles Tendon Lengthening surgery and planned it right away. They do both legs at the same time, he’ll wear a cast for a month, and braces for 3 months. The braces are removable, but he has to wear them 24/7. I was in disbelief, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. My heart sank, if only I had pushed for a referral when he was two…
The drive home all I could think about was that Wyatt was beginning the first grade in a week from when we had the appointment. He’d be attending school full day for the first time. The “what if’s” were going crazy in my head. I was a mission to make this as easy as possible on him. School started and none of his friends from Kindergarten was in his class, he was having a hard time adjusting, which made my anxiety shoot through the roof. Luckily he has a great teacher and she listened to all my concerns. I then worked with the school to figure out what he’d be doing for PE & recess. We had almost all of it dialed in by the time we went in for surgery.
Surgery day arrived. Wyatt’s attitude was great, way better than we expected. He picked out glow-in-the-dark casts and was pretty excited about it. We walked him down the hall, kissed him goodbye and waited in the lobby, which felt like eternity. When they brought us back to see him he was sitting up eating a Popsicle. We approached his bed and that’s when he noticed his IV. He freaked. I was not prepared for what was about to happen. He began saying that it was hurting him and he started to try and pull it out. He started kicking his legs, trying to push the casts off with the bottom of his casts. He was yelling that he wanted them off and that he didn’t want this surgery in the first place. I was trying to calm him down, since there were other children there to have surgery. I didn’t want for him to freak them out too… It took me, my husband Todd, and two nurses to hold him down. He was pulling on the IV and managed to pop it out. The nurse was trying to get it back in. It was one of the most horrifying experiences I’ve had since being a mom. They ended up taking out the IV and we went out into the lobby again in hopes that he’d calm down. All I could do was cry, my baby was scared and upset, and I felt so helpless.
After a while had past they brought us back to see him, where he was calm and had been drawing on his cast with one of the nurses. He was in much better spirits. The physical therapists came and even got him walking around with a walker. He was so determined and we were able to go home.. All I wanted to do was get him home and take care of him.
The first couple days were rough! He would get mad and try to push his casts off, he was very angry with us for making him have the surgery. His new teacher came by with cards that the kids in his class made him and she even brought him a gift, it was so sweet! After the weekend was over he was ready for school, which blew me away. I literally didn’t believe the doctor that he’d be ready in such a short time to go back to school. We did half days simply because it was a lot for him and by the end of the day he was pretty sore. The kids at school were all very concerned and were awesome!
It was certainly a transition. I now had to pick him up and bathe him in our deep kitchen sink, because our bath tub is too deep and his legs couldn’t reach the sides without it being uncomfortable. He had to get use to sleeping with 2 casts on his legs, wearing shorts constantly, not doing too much, and not being able to go play on a playground while his brother had soccer practice. It limited him on the things he was able to do. He has learned a lot in the past few weeks and I think this has been a great lesson for him. I have noticed a difference in him and I am so very proud.
With parent-teacher conferences, harvest festival, pumpkin carving, and Halloween I didn’t get a chance to update my blog with not only the first part of our story, but our update too. Last week we got the casts off, yeah!! There have been a few times where he’ll say he doesn’t want his braces on, but for the past few days he has not complained once and or asked to take them off. We are allowed to give him 20 minutes a day and bath times to take the braces off. We will go back in January for his 3 month post-surgery appointment. I’m not sure as to what the game plan is on physical therapy, but I’m sure there is going to be. We’ll see, fingers crossed that this worked! Stay tuned.
Bottom line: I will always listen to my gut.