A memory popped in my head today. It’s funny how that happens. My oldest daughter used to always tip-toe. She was an early walker. By 10 months she was zooming around everywhere, not needing to hold on to things. At some point, I can’t remember the exact moment, she began to tip-toe, and just would not stop. “Flat feet” became the mantra in our house. I would tell her, my husband would tell her, family, friends, neighbors, everyone would tell her, “flat feet”. It didn’t work. She continued to tip-toe.
When she was 3 years old I noticed that she had rock solid calf muscles. But then I also noticed that she could not stand on her “flat feet”. She would need to shift her weight to get one foot flat, then shift her weight in the opposite direction to get her other foot flat. That was not good. My mother-in-law was convinced she had autism. She does not have autism. But, kids with autism often tip-toe is what she would tell me. Many kids tip-toe. She does not have autism. So, off to the doctor we went.
There were many tests. All came out normal. There was physical therapy. There was walking around with weights around her ankles. Nothing helped. She had just started dance class, ballet. The teacher commented how well she stays up on her toes. That’s really not a good thing, we joked with her.
Finally we were told that casting would be the best thing. Casting? She would need a walking cast on each foot. The doctor would flex her feet as much as possible and then put the casts on. She would need to wear the first set of casts for 2 weeks, then have them removed, flex her feet more, and put on the second set of casts, then the same routine for a third set. That’s a lot of casting. Will she be able to get around ok? Will she be able to continue in preschool? What about dance class? Well the answer was yes to everything. She was your typical 3 year old, just with casts on her feet for 6 weeks. She ran round the neighborhood, went up and down the slide, and had sleepovers with the cousins. She had fun at preschool and continued in dance class. The dance teacher was fantastic. She even let Bayley participate in the spring recital. Just picture it, an adorable group of 3 year old darlings taking their position on stage, one in navy blue casts on each leg (we chose navy blue to match the dress) with a huge smile on her face ready to dance. You could hear the murmur in the crowd, all wondering how this child was going to dance. Well, she did it and did it well. A very memorable evening.
After 6 weeks the casts finally came off for good. She was so excited. She came running to me to show me she didn’t need them anymore and boy did we learn a quick lesson. Having your feet casted for 6 weeks causes incredible weakness in your legs and feet. She could not run. She could barely walk. And, she no longer had rock solid calf muscles. Those muscles stretched out back to normal. Her feet were so floppy. It was an interesting experience. After several weeks she was finally able to walk normally. And we all watched her very closely. Would she go back to her old ways? Would we need to say “flat feet” anymore. Nope and nope. She’s 22 and walking normally.