Here we are, over a year after the foot injury, and I feel very much the same way I did the day it all occurred. My heart is empty and my eyes are full of tears I don’t dare let fall for fear that they won’t ever stop. It wasn’t that long ago I had a little boy, so full of life and energy and athletic promise. While that same little boy is here with me today, a fact I am so eternally grateful for, I am deeply saddened by the fact that his childhood is forever changed. He is still so full of life and energy. He is still full of athletic ability, but he will now be forever compromised and hindered.
As we walked into the doctor’s office today, I expected what I considered to be the worst case scenario. I figured we were going to have to endure a serious foot reconstruction surgery that would take at least one or two surgeries to complete. I envisioned lots of wires and screws holding his foot together, and I was anticipating at least a month, if not longer, of recovery time. As bad as that sounded, and as much as I was dreading that time, I was looking ahead and thinking that, by the time he was about 5 years old, he would be living a relatively normal life. The wait was interminable. We were in the waiting room for about 2 hours! With a 4 year old and a 2 year old, that can feel like a lifetime! They finally called us into the room where we were to talk to the doctor,and we waited yet another hour. By now it was way past lunch time, and the kids were losing their minds. At least the nurse brought in snacks. To their credit, Derek and Ashley handled it relatively well, though Ash did have one small meltdown.
When the doctor finally came in, he was obviously having a tough day, but he was kind, patient, and gracious. He brought up the MRI, and started to show me the bones in Derek’s foot. At first it sounded like it was going to be good news. He told me that the the bones in his big toe are actually growing normally, and that there are no problems with his toe outside of the fact that he is missing a tendon. Then he showed me the bump on the top of his foot, and showed me where the car had scraped the bone. In that area, a new bone had erupted, and was growing like a ball in his foot. He called this bone the “Interloper,” and the other bones in his big toe the”Innocents.” The “Interloper” is growing and causing the bump on his foot, making it hard for him to wear a shoe. It is also pushing down on the big toe, causing it to push down into the ball of his foot. It is this action that is causing Derek to walk more and more on the side of his foot and is causing him some pain when he walks. The “Interloper” is also pushing forward on his big toe, causing it to push out much further than the rest of his toes. Because of this action, and the fact that he can’t lift his toe without the tendon, unless he is wearing shoes, he will trip and fall over that toe more and more often. Jason and I have noticed an increase in his falls lately, so this made sense. So in summary, this ball of bone inside his foot is growing as he grows in a spherical direction, causing a bump on the top of his foot to grow larger and larger until he can no longer wear a shoe. It is also pushing down on his toe, making him walk more and more on the side of his foot until walking is just too hard, and it is pushing his toe outward, making him trip more and more over his toe when not wearing shoes (which is hard to do because of the bump on the top of his foot).
It was at this point I started to get the feeling that this was going to be bad. The doc sat heavily on his chair and leaned back. He sighed deeply and said, “Soooo….what can we do about this?” I just looked at him, anxious to hear the answer. He said, “The problem is that, this particular bone that is causing all the trouble has another terrible characteristic in that, I can’t stop it from growing.” (That may not be an exact quote, but you get the idea…)
What??? What does that mean?
He continued on, telling me that because he is so young, and has so much growing left to do, we are going to have to just manage the problem until he is done growing. We are going to have to find shoes that he can be relatively comfortable in, maybe find some inserts or something to help him out, and do the best that we can for him until he can no longer wear shoes, walk, or stand the pain. At that time, we will have a surgery where he will remove the growth from the foot by shaving it down to normal levels. This surgery will most likely require a night in the hospital, and then a significant amount of time for recovery. I wish I had asked this question at the doctor’s office, but I didn’t. I can’t find much in my research, but I am finding a recovery time from 3 weeks to 3 months. I am guessing it will be somewhere in-between. In other words, this is a much more significant foot injury than we originally thought.
The problem is that, after the surgery, the “Interloper” will begin to grow back. As long as Derek’s foot keeps growing, so will the “Interloper.” This means that every year and a half to two years, he will have to have this surgery, and for most of the time in-between surgeries, he will have to endure pain, discomfort wearing shoes, and tripping over his toe. As he gets older, he will also begin to feel the pressure of not walking normally, and not having a normal foot. No longer is the worst case scenario a major surgery on a foot injury and then a regular life. Now we are talking about multiple surgeries throughout his childhood, as well as difficulties doing what the rest of us take for granted. No mother envisions their son or daughter’s childhood being plagued with such discomfort, trials, and tribulations. It was all I could do to keep from breaking down in his office.
At the end of the consultation, we set up a surgery date for March 6th, and a check-up for February 24th. The check up is to see if the surgery is necessary at that time or not. I was confused at first, because I was thinking we already needed it. But then I realized…in order to spread out the surgeries and to keep him from being out of commission for so long so often, he was going to have to endure so much more than he already is. That realization really stung. It has hit me pretty hard, and is not relenting at all. He is already complaining of pain, and hating shoes. How bad will it be in 6 months??? I can’t imagine what all of this is going to be like for him, but I have already made up my mind.
Derek is tough and strong. In no way do I want to take that away from him. He rarely complains, and he runs around like nothing is wrong. When he falls, which he does quite often, he just gets right up and keeps on going. I plan to put him into sports like I had planned to do before he got his foot injury. I will quietly watch him, and keep an eye on how he runs, walks, and moves, but I will refrain from asking him about it much. I will wait for him to say something to me. I will do everything I can to create comfortable shoes, be it a custom made sole made from inserts we find in drug stores cut down just right, layered, and fit into shoes two sizes too big, or orthopedic shoes that are made just for kids like him. I will allow him to push himself through it as far as he wants to, and I will let him decide what is too much. I will be careful not to put into his head that he is damaged or handicapped. He is not. He is a kid that can adjust to his situation and continue to thrive and be successful, and I plan to let him do just that. Like Jason said, if this had to happen to someone, we were lucky it happened to Derek, because he is a kid that will overcome it.
Well, that is where we stand. I know the pain in my heart will subside, and life will continue on it’s regular course. Derek will do fine. If you would, please pray for Derek. He may not realize it, but he could probably use God’s help.
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