Getting Real With Wanda Morrissey

Jeffrey is a toe walker. It has to do with being a preemie; he didn’t develop proper muscle tone in his calf muscles. The physiotherapist noticed it right away at our last appointment at the neonatal follow-up clinic. In an effort to correct the problem, he has to wear rigid orthotics (inserts) in his shoes. They limit his ability to bend his foot, forcing the calf muscles to stretch so he can walk on his entire foot. He got the inserts in June and has been wearing them since.

Just before Halloween, we went back to the follow-up clinic so the physiotherapist could check for improvement in the way Jeffrey walks. I told the physiotherapist that I thought Jeffrey was doing better except for when he’s excited or tired; if he’s tired or excited, he’s up on his toes.  Then he wanted to see Jeffrey walking and, wouldn’t you know it, through the whole test Jeffrey was up on his toes.

The physiotherapist is looking at me like I lied to him and says, “Are you sure he’s wearing his orthotics?”  His tone clearly conveyed that he didn’t think he was. I told him that, yes, he was, but what I really wanted to do was yell, “Of course, I’m sure. Why would I spend $400 on orthotics to correct my son’s gait and then not use them?” Then I mumbled something about Jeffrey being excited and wanting to play with the toys in the room. I got the ‘I don’t believe you’ look again. “Well,” says the physiotherapist, “it does take 1 to 3 years to correct the problem and Jeffrey’s only been wearing them a few months. But you know, if the inserts don’t work, he’ll need leg braces to correct the problem.”

He made the last sound like a threat, like if the inserts didn’t work, he’d know exactly who to blame.

Jeffrey wears those inserts everyday. He’s still going up on his toes when he’s tired or excited (I’m beginning to think this is more of a quirk or habit than anything else). We have an appointment to go back again in January, if Jeffrey toe walks at that appointment then I’m going to come home and videotape him walking properly so I can take it and show it to the physiotherapist.

I know Jeffrey is improving.  How would it help Jeffrey if I was lying about it?