Who would voluntarily sign their healthy, active, smart, 7-year old son up for surgery that take away the rest of his summer, prohibit him from going to summer baseball camp, and play fall football……this mom right here. And no, I am not bragging about it, but I did not find a lot of information about healthy children that has opted to have Achilles tendon lengthening surgery. Here is my story.
Ethan was born with flat feet, which at the time didn’t concern me. As he was learning how to walk, my concern became increasing as it seemed that the bone above where his arch should be appeared to be falling to the ground and he was walking on the inside of his feet (not toe-walking) instead of the center. I took him to his first Podiatrist. The doctor assured us that he needed these plastic, hard inserts in his shoes and his arch will develop, and he will be fine. We did what the doctor ordered and he eventually grew out them, so we took him back to get larger ones. By the time he was 5 years old, I still haven’t seen an improvement and by now, the inserts we rubbing callouses and blisters where his arch should be. I now took him to his second Podiatrist. In not so many words, he just blew us off. Not a happy camper, I just knew something was not right. Finding out that Podiatrists are not medical doctors, I stopped right then. I made him an appointment with a Pediatric Orthopedic Specialist. BINGO!
Ethan was 6 years old when we started the 12 week therapy because his Achilles tendons in both legs were short. (At this time, we were seeing the PA). They said that if Ethan does not get his tendons lengthened, as active in sports as he is, both would rupture when he was older from overextending. He would need to quit sports immediately to avoid that trauma or try to lengthen them. If you knew my son, quitting is not an option. He is kinda obsessed with sports. After the 12 weeks of therapy and night time braces, he was somewhat looser, but the PA said to give him a year with the brace and stretching and come back to see if it was helping. We took his advise and wore the braces and stretched throughout the year. (***tip for night time braces: if they are too hot, buy a frog togg, cut it to fit inside the braces, and wet it before bed…that thing will now be cold***). One year later.
This brings us to this summer. We went back for his checkup, and the Doctor saw him this time. He couldn’t even get Ethan’s feet 5 degrees below neutral. Failure. He said (and I quote), “He has remarkably short Achilles tendons”. He needs lengthening surgery, nothing else will work. Oh and about his flat feet, the doctor said that Ethan has been compensating for his short tendons, that he has stretched all of his ligaments in his feet and they are not tight enough to hold up an arch. He will wear a brace around his arch that will come below his ankle bone for years to come.
So, we have scheduled his surgery for July 12, 2012. 4 weeks in a wheel chair, 4 weeks in walking casts, and then braces. Please say a little prayer and I will document his joruney as it unfolds and let you know if it’s worth everything he is about to endure.
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