Our beautiful boy Benjamin was born in July 2007 with Bilateral Talipes. We found out that he had talipes or “clubfoot” at the 18 weeks scan where the Dr told us not to worry as the Paediatrician would take care of it when he was born. That night we searched and searched the internet for hours, finding out every thing we could on this condition. Thankfully we came across the Ponseti method. Trouble was, we live in Hong Kong and there were no Doctors here who practiced the Ponseti method. It would mean packing up and heading back to Australia – for a few months at least.
Benjamin started his treatment at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead when he was 10 days old. I had no idea what to expect on our first day at the hospital and naively dressed him in a fairly good outfit. No sooner had we arrived than the amazing physios whipped his pants off and applied the first cast. I was also amazed at how well my little baby handled it – much better than his parents! There were no tears from him!
Benjamin’s feet responded really well to the casts. Every five days we made our trek to the Hospital, had the plaster removed (with pliers – not a noisy saw), gave him a bath and some plaster free time, then on with the next cast. Five casts and four weeks later his feet were corrected!
Continuing our trouble free run with the treatment so far, we were absolutely delighted when Ben’s Doctor decided his feet were flexible enough that he did not need the tenotomy. Not only were we extremely relieved that he did not need the procedure, it also meant we would be able to head back to our Hong Kong home about a month earlier than expected.
After the fifth and last plaster cast was removed, Ben was fitted with the Markell boots and bars. Once the boots were on, I can honestly say he was not particularly distressed by having to wear them. He did protest at doing the exercises to stretch his Achilles. The first three months where he wore them 23 hours a day went by pretty quick. During his one hour out of them he would spend almost the entire time kicking and throwing his little legs around, obviously enjoying the freedom.
Living with a clubfoot child has been fairly straight forward for us. Benjamin is our first child, so we did not know any different. Unfortunately he is not a good sleeper and from five months developed a habit of waking every hour needing me to help him back to sleep. During this time we ended up with him in our bed most of the time. Whether or not it was the boots waking him up we will never know, although since he became more mobile at 12 months he sleeps much better.
When he was around 9 months old we switched him to the Mitchell boots. We had been having trouble with his feet slipping in the boots, plus we were also finding it difficult getting them on him. He had a tendency to curl his toes which made slipping his foot in the boots difficult. We also hoped the change might alleviate some of his sleeping problems. The Mitchell boots have been a great success for us. Getting his foot in is easy and being able to clip the bar on and off has made any night time nappy changes much easier. Unfortunately, it didn’t make a change to his night time waking habits.
At the time of writing this he is 13 months old. He is not yet walking, but is not far off. His feet are doing great and his development has not been hindered at all by his feet or having to wear the boots.