I had this whole basic intro ready, but I feel I need to share the heart of why I’m posting this about our sweet 10 year old. You see, all too often I’ve come to learn that if I (as the parent) don’t take note of certain things about my child, and don’t do something about it – it could potentially impact their future in a way that could rob them of pursuing their dreams. There’s a gut thing that women have that can’t be explained (sorry boys – it’s a legit thing) where you just feel something isn’t right and you can’t explain it. Honestly, I had this feeling with our Iraina for years and I am so glad that I acted on it when I did. Here’s what’s been happening.
From when Iraina was really little I had noticed that she ran quite heavily on her feet – I used to say that for such a small person she sounded like a biggest human running through our house. Her feet would thud quite hard on the floor – I just figured that it was because she was more flat footed that anything and it’s “the way she walks and runs”.
Fast forward a few years to where I sat watching her train for gymnastics – I started to take note of the way she ran. As in, the style of her movement. (I used to be a runner as a teen and my Dad had me watch Olympians run and take tips from their techniques) So with that knowledge sitting in my head I could see that she wasn’t achieving her potential in certain apparatus because she wasn’t getting the speed, due to the way her body was moving. I asked her Dad to run a few times for me (without him knowing what I was doing) just to see if it was a genetic thing from his side of the DNA contribution – but there were minimal similarities.
So I decided to get involved in the gymnastic coaching and gave her hands on tips on how to move her body and what to be aware of. This improved her technique slightly but not enough to remove the heaviness of her feet on the ground.
At the beginning of this year , she started to complain that her feet were getting sore after she did any activity with them – running, jumping on the trampoline and such. This concerned me, because I could see she was starting to compromise her play to protect herself from being in pain.
We tried some rubs and wrapping her feet – but it still didn’t help. I took a closer look at her feet and realized that it wasn’t her muscles that were sore, but a bone was protruding out of the inner arches of her feet. (so much so that my she thought she had a second ankle) It was then that I realized, that she might need to see a podiatrist just to see if there’s anything going on. To be honest I put it off for about 2 months because I thought maybe we could wait it out, but she just kept getting worse and was on the brink of wanting to stop her activities. I also did my fair share of googling and looking at drawings of the foot and what could happen in development stages, because as you know – we’re in the wonderful stage of adolescence and the body shifts so much, especially for a girl.
This is also when I realized that because her body is changing and the window of opportunity to assist her development, was closing – we needed to make a move, and quick (I don’t know why, but I just had that sense)
So we made it to the podiatrist, mask and all. She did the most amazing assessment of her feet and what we came to learn was that her muscles in her ankles and leading up into the hips were really weak. So much so that when she went up onto her toes her ankles shook as if they were about to cave in.
I kept thinking, this poor child has been compensating this whole time for muscle weakness that we could have helped a long time ago. But, we didn’t take that on – we are here, we are doing something about it. Thank goodness for medical aid because this process isn’t cheap and we are so grateful that we’ve kept this option open to be able to get this right for Iraina.
Here, you can see her feet on the sheet of glass and you’re able to see that she has an arch because of the skin that is touching the glass. This solidifies the diagnosis that the bones are not being supported properly. (sorry for the poor quality image – it was hard to get my phone in and under the box)
After we decided that we’re going to proceed with therapy to strengthen her foot – our podiatrist used this special foam to help prepare an orthotic to put into Iraina’s shoes to help the foot sit the way it’s supposed to. What you see here is her artificially positioning the foot into the position that will guide the bones into the right direction. It’s almost the same as braces for teeth, but for the feet. They then pour plaster of paris into the mould and form the orthotic from there.
She sent us for xrays to make sure that there has been no fusion of the bones (which is possible at adolescence) – this determines whether she will have orthotics for a short time or for life. I was sneaky and took a pic of the xray as it was happening in the radiology room.
What she was able to point out to us is that the heel bone has dropped back and curled out, which has also happened with the bones surrounding the ankle – causing a flatter arch causing the one bone to curl in and make the protrusion (second ankle like) The goal going forward will be to have orthotics to support the foot into it’s more comfortable shape. As well as work with a physiotherapist to strengthen the muscles around the ankle to hold the bones in their correct positions.
This will then help align her knees, hips and help with her back.
I know that this might be a lot for some to read, but I made a decision to document it here because the progress is going to be slow and not as noticeable like a plastic surgeons work – but it’s going to make a massive impact on her quality of life and just approach to activity in general.
I think what I’ve learned and what I can share with you is, if you notice something’s off with your kid – make a plan to have it checked out. You’d rather be wrong than have them struggle through their journey just because you wanted to save money or didn’t think it was a big deal. There are so many facilities that offer cost effective ways to assess them and I’m sure there’s always a way to make a plan. I know I would have if we didn’t have medical aid as a fall back. Whether it’s reading, writing, seeing, speaking, co-ordination – observe and check it out or even ask friends that may be in those industries.
I’ve found that the Lord often surrounds me with the right people at the right moment for that one thing that is happening with my kids. I guess I should share more of those stories – because there are a lot.