You’ll soon learn from us that with every event there is a process, a good story that goes along with us, a shenanigan. There’s the time my husband asked the on-call pediatrician that was assigned to our son after his birth if a circumcision was a procedure that she enjoyed performing, there was no way that she could ever answer that one correctly! There’s also the time that we bought a new washer machine from Sears (given their current financial situation, we should have known better) and the delivery guys broke the washer on install and didn’t tell us and we found water gushing out of the back of our washer in our second story laundry room. Awesome-sauce!
The time my husband found a screw driver in his rear tire on St Patrick’s Day at 8pm (serves him right for leaving work so late, I say!) and OnStar didn’t show up for 14 hours (lucky guy got a night in the Crowne Plaza. Seriously, what I wouldn’t do for a night alone in the Crowne Plaza!). We used to say our 20s were for making stupid mistakes, our 30s were for getting it together and by 40 we should have it together. Well, we’re quickly approaching 40 (him next month, so get on it hubby) and we SO don’t have it together.
So naturally as we chose a Dr for Sporty there was bound to be a good story. When I first got diagnosed with the clubfeet I was referred to a yahoo support group, nosurgeryforclubfoot. The moms on the group were SOOOO helpful and reassuring in those early, very scary days. I’ve maintained friendships with many of them and they armed me with a list of questions to take to potential Drs. Do you practice Ponseti? What’s your relapse rate? Are you Ponseti certified? The list went on. Armed with my list of questions, we interviewed Drs…
We met with one potential Dr at a well renowned Children’s Hospital. His physicians assistant was extremely nice on the phone, happy to have a potential new patient to take care of, she loved clubfoot babies because she got to watch them transform and grow, so I was optimistic. His office was far (like 40-50 minutes without traffic) but it would be worth it for the best care. We got there and he walked in with three medical students (it is affiliated with a university so I don’t know why I was taken aback by this) and he didn’t take his hand off of the door knob the entire time (all 5 minutes) that we met with him. He could not get out of the room fast enough! What would treatment with Sporty be like? Would he rush through it? If he didn’t have time for us, to make us feel better (didn’t he see how scared and worried we were???), to talk to us, did we want him to be our Dr for life? (Because yes, clubfoot is for life, at least it seems like it will be for us.) Um, he was a big fat NO!
Then we met with a highly recommended Dr who was fairly local. He answered all of our questions, walked us through treatment and then said he preferred for mom to breastfeed while he was casting the baby. Say what!?! Can I give her a bottle instead I asked. He preferred breastfeeding, not in a “oh it’s just nature” way but in a creepy way. This time we couldn’t get out of there fast enough!
First of all, how do we land ourselves in these crazy positions but most of all we left feeling very discouraged. This left one Dr on our list of Drs to interview. If he didn’t work out, well, that would mean traveling to either Shriner’s in Sacramento, which is amazing at treating clubfoot but as a new mom, I was completely overwhelmed with the prospect of having to drive 2 hours each way, every week for cast changes, we have no family local so as soon as Hubby went back to work, it would be all on me. Or traveling to Southern California for treatment, in that scenario, at least my parents would be there to help. But still not ideal, the initial casting phase can take weeks, for us it was about 9 weeks of weekly casting changes, did I want to travel for 2+ months!?! Plus, I really wanted a local Dr for those crazy new mom panic calls.
We finally had our appointment at our final potential Drs office, our last chance at local treatment. From the minute we walked in we felt, well, at home. His office staff was kind and supportive. He sat down and answered all of our questions. He didn’t ask me to breastfeed in front of him, double bonus for him. He had a daughter with clubfoot and overall we just felt the fit. We walked out of there, looked at each other and said “Done.”
On January 12th, 2009, at 8am when Sporty was not even 6 hours old and the moment his office opened, we made the call and scheduled our first appointment with him. We later had to reschedule when Sporty had to be readmitted for jaundice and low body temperature so finally, at 12 days old, we started treatment with him and we’ve never looked back.
From day one he and his office staff have been remarkable. When I was stressed and overwhelmed his office administrator would scoop Sporty up and walk her around to give me a break. To this day she still refers to Sporty as “her baby.” She visited Sporty at the hospital before work after Sporty’s first tendon transfer and always takes care of us (ie she is always very well stocked with lollipops). She gave Sporty her first piece of gum (when she was out of those lollipops).
And then there is Dr Fluffy Unicorn (Sporty’s name for him after their bond over Despicable Me post-op and while she was on morphine). Dr Fluffy Unicorn has always treated Sporty with the most superior care, has referred to her as “one of our own,” and offered to send us to St Louis (where one of the best clubfoot Drs in the world practices) for a second opinion when discussing surgery. Everything Sporty can do, we owe to Dr Fluffy Unicorn (his name makes him sound super qualified and important, doesn’t it???). I don’t think Dr Fluffy Unicorn will ever understand what he’s done for our family (maybe he does in a sense since his daughter had clubfoot but he gave us hope when we were in very short supply of it) but every time she runs a lap at running club, scores a goal in soccer, takes the softball field, rides her scooter or bike around the neighborhood, or something as mundane as walking into school each day, I am thankful for Dr Fluffy Unicorn. Because without his skill or talent we would have none if it. But above all, it’s been his connection with Sporty and their bond that has brought her to the next level. He’s always made an concerted effort to connect with her, whether over baseball, movies, cartoon characters and as she’s getting older, sports, SHE has always respected him and felt comfortable and confident in him and so even when she’s had to have surgery, she’s taken comfort in knowing that he would never to do anything to hurt her. The steps we’ve taken are to give her a better life and she gets this, as much as an 8 year old can get it. Above all, he’s always been a strong believer in letting kids be kids and because of this, we’ve scheduled castings and surgeries around summer, softball season, softball tryouts, and soccer season, or the 5th birthday party that she really wanted to be a Pump It Up party. This has all added to his credibility with Sporty. And conversely, he has a level of respect for her, when he gets new patients with clubfeet, she’s his success story. A girl who was born with a tough case of bilateral clubfeet, a girl who loves to run, a girl who has had a long journey but a girl who doesn’t let anything stand in her way.
Because of Dr Fluffy Unicorn, we have an adventure and a happy story to tell.