Thursday, June 2, 2011

cast off

Z finally got his cast off yesterday! After 8 weeks of sponge baths and plastic bag solutions during muddy park and beach outings, he is finally free. We celebrated by introducing him to what will be his second home this summer: the pool!

Z is a water fanatic and loved every second!

I haven't written much about Z's club foot treatment, mostly because it hasn't really been a big deal. But since many people don't really know what club foot is (I didn't either before we got our referral), I'll give a brief explanation of the condition and its treatment. This is based on my observations and experience, not on medical science -- I wouldn't go writing your physiology term paper from it or anything, but hopefully it will be helpful to those who are unfamiliar.

Club foot is a fairly common birth defect that can affect one or both feet. It doesn't run in families and it is more common in developing countries, but does occur in babies born all over the world. The foot is not deformed or missing any critical parts (as I once assumed), but is simply oriented incorrectly due to shortened tendons and ligaments. A club foot typically points inward and downward and has an extremely high arch. If untreated, this condition makes walking very difficult, and basically impossible when it affects both feet.

In most cases (including Z's), club foot is 100% correctable. In fact, there are many professional and Olympic athletes who were born with club foot! The most common treatment method is called the Ponsetti Method, which involves using serial casting to gradually stretch and reposition the foot. For Z, they put a cast on his foot and lower leg, took it off each week to see the progress, then applied a new cast in a slightly adjusted position. It took 8 weeks and 6 casts to stretch his foot to a normal position. Now he will wear an orthotic brace under his shoe for a few more months to keep the foot in place, as well as "Ponsetti Shoes" at night for a year or two. The Ponsetti shoes are shoes that are connected by a metal brace, which keep his feet oriented correctly while he sleeps (think: skinny snowboard that you wear to bed). He may need a small surgery on one of his tendons at some point, but I'm hoping we can avoid that.

Though I'm glad Z is done with casts and I won't miss the drive up to Children's, dealing with this has honestly been easier than I thought it would be. 'Minor correctable special needs' might sound a bit daunting on an adoption form, but in real life (at least for us) I am happy to report that it has been no big deal.

So, you might be wondering how Z is doing with his new orthotic brace and sleeping snowboard... Unnervingly well. The orthotic is really minor and he's totally fine with it, but I was worried about how he'd do with the shoes at night. If at age two N or D had suddenly had to sleep with their feet in weird connected shoes, I can tell you right now they would have freaked out. Not Z. All the way through the doctor visit when we tried them on, as well as in the evening while I did his whole bedtime routine and up until he fell asleep, Z basically ignored the fact that he was strapped into a strange contraption. Didn't so much as touch it or look at it, just completely took it in stride. Which is nice... and tragic. There was a line in the book Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child that absolutely jumped off the page at me, spoken by a 9 year old girl who was adopted at age 3 about her adoption day: "That's when I learned that anything can happen." What does it say about my son's life that he doesn't even seem to care or notice something like this? Weird new things are the status quo for him. Sigh. Of course resilience is a great thing, I just wish he hadn't had to go through so much to get it.

sleeping with his snowboard


  1. thank you for your insight. Club foot is something we would absolutely take on (but did not now this until we knew what it meant). Not sure if YWAM haas other little ones with club foot, but we are waiting for our CIS we are getting close but not there yet. Love his little snow board:) He is such a sweet blessing!

  2. I meant to give you a big "high five" today for having NO kids with casts, but I totally forgot! I agree with you about the sad factor of him not questioning such an odd contraption. These poor kiddos are just like, "Ok, now this is happening." But we can trust Jesus to mend their precious little hearts. :)