Oh where to begin? I think this is the stage where most parents of a clubfoot kid start to wear down and the whole idea gets a little thin. But when I think hard enough about that, I realize that we are really not even one third of the way through this, since this will be ongoing until he is 15.
On Saturday morning around 3am, I awake to the sounds of Hayden coming into our room. Since we stopped using the brace three weeks ago, this is not unusual. He can make many visits in a night and is usually returned to his room as he drives me completely batshit crazy in my bed. I can hear him muttering and as I open my eyes I realize I can't see him anywhere. I soon discover he is on the floor crawling and complaining about his foot, "ouch.....my foot....hurts so much..." In my sleep deprived state, I figure his foot has fallen asleep from perhaps sleeping on it funny or some-such and haul him into my bed for a quick cuddle before I take him back.
5am. Repeat. This time I let him come into the bed, so I can maybe get some frickin' sleep and he lasts about an hour before husband and I are wanting to axe murder him. There is much tossing-turning, whispering, pulling and breaking of my hair. Husband takes him back to bed, where he immediately and loudly notifies us he is disgruntled. Heavy on the gruntle.
About half an hour later I hear him again. This time he is trying to go to the bathroom and it is abundantly obvious something is wrong with his foot. I get up to investigate and husband joins me. We take him downstairs to check it out. I thoroughly inspect his foot for......what? I see no bruising, no swelling, so sign of anything amiss. I try to think back to the previous day. No easy task when my brain is still mush. Nope. Nada.
He positively refuses to put any weight on the foot and tells me it hurts when I apply pressure to the bone on the top of the foot (the talus). Now I am concerned. He's been out of the brace for about three weeks and I'm thinking it could be a relapse. Husband and I hem and haw about what to do, but we decide to give it a couple of hours. Fast forward to mid morning and there is no improvement. We decide he needs to go to the hospital. Here's where I break into a cold sweat thinking about the fabulous BC Children's Hospital Emergency (heavy on the sarcasm) department where you are guaranteed a surly triage nurse, a three hour wait minimum in the waiting area and a cesspool of disgusting sick people whose kids only have the flu and should not be there, but insist on touching every toy and surface with their germy, snotty hands. Shudder.
Then I twig on the brilliant idea of taking him to Royal Columbian Hospital Emergency because that's where Dr. Pirani's clinic is and if he ends up needing to see him, then the x-rays and whatever are already there! Inspired! It's about a twenty minute drive compared to the two minute drive, but the highway is clear and it's smooth sailing.
Here's where I put in a plug for one of the best emergency departments I have ever encountered. I arrive and check in with the receptionist in emergency. She takes Hayden's medical number and checks to make sure all of our information is still current. She puts a bracelet on him. We are directed to wait in the designated area and a triage nurse will call us shortly. Hayden has to go to the bathroom, of course so we trudge to the other end of the long hallway because the closest bathroom is being renovated. Naturally they call us while we are doing that, but another mother kindly informs me, so I let the nurse know we are back.
We get called to triage and she takes more detailed medical info, asks what the trouble is and takes Hayden's vitals. Back to the waiting area. This is all in a relatively small zone, so it's not like you are hiking back and forth anywhere. After a few minutes the admitting nurse calls us and she prints out the paperwork and directs us to an area called "the minor treatment waiting area". Now think about this for a minute and bask in the excellence that is order and intelligence. Does it not make sense to separate the heart attacks and amputees from the dog bites and minor spills? Sure does to me!
Once settled in there amongst a few others, a nurse comes in and tells another patient her ultrasound is scheduled for 3:30. What?!?! They give you a time?!?!? What kind of magical efficiency is this? Are demons at play? No, I think that somewhere along the way someone figured out that the primary cause of anxiety in the waiting room of a hospital is the waiting. And the not knowing. It seems about five or ten minutes before the kindly nurse escorts Hayden and I to the paediatric area and we are given a room. Hayden is stoked about the "high up bed" and he is content to read his I Spy books and munch on some snacks while we wait.
Presently a doctor turns up and checks him out and decides an x-ray will be in order. Minutes later an orderly arrives with a wheeled chair which Hayden thinks is awesome and he is wrapped in a blanket for the little journey to radiology. Throw Hayden into a room with three cute, young and female x-ray technicians and what do you think happens? The charm is oozing from his pores! The photos get taken and we're back to the little room. Approximately five minutes or so later, the nurse comes in and informs me that she has asked the doctor to look at the x-rays, which leads me to suspect it is the nurses who keep this system flowing since they are the ones who get yelled at the most.
The doctor returns and informs me that nothing has turned up on the pictures, to just keep an eye on him for the next couple of days and come back if it doesn't improve. So, it's a complete mystery still, but I am so impressed with the fact that we made it in and out of there in one and three quarter hours that I don't care! I have never left a hospital emergency before the three hour mark. Ever. Hayden spends the rest of the day and evening crawling around, or having one of us carry him. Did I mention he's about 45 pounds?
The next morning he manages to put weight on it, but is limping heavily. He's doesn't seem to be in tremendous pain, but it clearly is bothering him. Poor little fella. It would help if we knew what it was. In the meantime I have contacted Dr. Pirani's secretary (who is also a friend) and have told her I am going to have to bring him to the clubfoot clinic on Monday. She says that is fine, but warns me it might be especially nutty there and says I should come closer to the last appointment. This works out fine because husband needs the car and can drop us off on the way.
But for the rest of Sunday, I am scrutinizing Hayden's foot and worrying and wondering. Husband and I are already deciding he has to go back in the brace and a few things actually twig in my mind. First of all, Hayden has had major growth since September. He has grown two sizes in clothing and although his foot size hasn't changed much, I feel it would still affect his Achilles' tendons. I remember that an experienced mom once told me to watch out for the growth spurts because this is a common time for relapse. And now am I just being paranoid, or is his foot actually looking curved after only three weeks out of the brace? Second, I remember that the style of orthopaedic shoes Hayden wears has developed a quick release system to remove the bar from the shoes. We haven't been using it because we still have the old style of shoes that don't work with this system. But since part of our reasoning for taking him out of the brace has been that it is really hard to haul him out of a bottom bunk that has a side rail when he is dead asleep and wearing a dangling contraption from his feet, this would alleviate that issue somewhat. *palm to forehead*
The actual wait time on Monday ends up only being about an hour, which is fabulous. Dr. Pirani checks him all out and asks a bunch of questions about the foot that was bothering him. Hayden performs wonderfully and seems to have no pain at all even though he has still been favouring the foot. Dr. Pirani asks about the bracing and I tell him we did take him out of it but are going to put him back in. I also mention that the foot looks curved to me and his expression says everything. Dr. Pirani is a person that can give you a look and you know exactly what he is thinking. So now I know - the foot is curved slightly and bracing is back in order. Considering I am prepared for the worst, such as casts again, this is okay with me. We still do not have an answer as to what occurred with his foot on Saturday. My best guess is that when he hopped out of bed that morning, he turned it and strained it. One would expect a kid to cry if that happened, but time and again, Hayden has proven he's a tough kid. He will often not cry at tumbles and spills. I'm so used to girls who cry over paper cuts that this is definitely a new experience.
In the meantime, putting his brace back on last night proved to be an exercise in heartbreak. He was devastated. His cry just pierced my heart and I found myself promising him everything under the sun, just to make it ok. We have set up a reward system for him and we'll see how that goes. Around 11:30 he woke up and wanted them off, and the way he asked in such a tearful voice I almost removed them. But he was satisfied with me loosening them slightly and made it the rest of the night. I am happy if he gets ten hours a night in them. I am less than pleased that this will no doubt affect his (and my) sleep pattern again, but for this kid to have straight feet and no surgery I will undergo water torture if I have to.
So for now, back to the drawing board.