One day when I was dropping Seagull off to childcare, one of his carers commented that she had noticed him walking funnily on his left foot. I figured at that point that if other people were noticing, that it was time to take Seagull to see a podiatrist. I went to work, dug out the phone book and made a call. Seagull was booked in for that Saturday.
The podiatrist that I took Seagull to see was a really nice man. He was probably around about my age, certainly no more than a couple of years older. He explained to me that Seagull probably had metatarsus adductus. That means that the big long bones in his feet that connect the ankle bones to the toe bones were turning inward. It is something that is more common in first babies and occurs when their feet get squished up in-utero whilst forming and growing. Unfortunately, there are no paediatric podiatrists in the area, so he was going to have to refer me to someone down in Melbourne.
We went to get x-rays done the next week. I was expecting Seagull to want to run around and generally not co-operate, but he was surprisingly good. I had to hide away from the x-ray equipment because I was about 18 weeks pregnant with Wombat at the time. The x-rays confirmed the podiatrist's suspicions and actually showed that Seagull's right foot was more affected than the left foot, even though it was more noticeable in the left foot because of the way he walked.
We had to wait about 6 weeks before we could get in to see the paediatric podiatrist. She was wonderful. She explained that we could either treat Seagull by casting his feet or putting splints on them at night. Casting treats them faster, but she wasn't prepared to recommend it as I was pregnant at the time and she didn't want Seagull kicking my pregnant belly with casts on his feet. We made an appointment to see her boss/mentor the following week to have the splints made up. We were also asked to get Seagull a new pair of shoes. They had to have a firm sole and the inside edge had to be as straight as possible so that there was no room for his feet to turn inward.
The next week, Seagull had splints made up for his feet. He was not amused. However, he didn't mind putting them on at night. I had forgotten how much he loves shoes. I ended up calling his splints his bed shoes and he would quite happily toddle over to me to have them put on. He even got quite proficient at walking in them, which was no mean feat, given that they're not designed to be walked in.
This is similar to the splints that Seagull had to wear.
Just imagine it in a child size.
Seagull had to wear his splints for about 4 months until just before Christmas, when we were given the OK for him not to wear them any more. This is not the end of our journey where Seagull's feet are concerned though. We still have to be very particular about his shoes so that we don't give his feet enough room to turn inside the shoe. To add to our issues, Seagull seems to take after me in the small foot department, which makes it just that little bit harder to find shoes for him.
There is a really good shoe shop near Seagull's podiatrist that I don't mind making the drive down to Melbourne for. Of course, I plan other things to do as well. I'm not going to drive for 2 hours just to get shoes. We happened to be down that way a few weeks ago, so we stopped in and got Seagull fitted for a new pair of winter shoes. As they cost less than I thought they would, I decided to stop by a shop that sells sports shoes and pick up a pair of runners as well. The guy there talked me into getting a size larger than I had wanted to get, telling me that Seagull will grow into them.
A couple of days later, I put them on Seagull. He took three steps and tripped over his shoes. When I checked them, I realised that they were a good couple of centimetres too long for him. I knew I should have stuck to my guns and bought the smaller size.
Yesterday, I decided that I was sick of Seagull trashing what I had bought to be a good-ish pair of shoes and took him down the street to our local sports store. They had the froodiest pair of black and yellow runners and they happened to be in Seagull's size. At last, success!
I'm not going to lose Seagull in a hurry when he is wearing these.