Saturday, May 5, 2012

Dodging The Bullet (At Least One of Them )

We dodged a bullet last week. Well, to be accurate, my youngest son dodged a bullet.

A little backstory: I tend to be a little lax about updating this blog. But this time I have an excuse. Things have been nuts lately. Aside from some legal troubles (which I'll discuss in my next post), our main concern has been Oscar. Particularly, his legs.

Oscar is 12 as of last month. He is also 5'10" and nearly 200lbs. He already wears bigger shoes than I do. At first, we were strangely excited by his sudden growth. Big guys run in my wife's family. Her brother is 6'3", and her great grandfather stood over 6'7" and had such broad shoulders that he had to be buried in a piano case.

Being Autistic, Oscar has some odd physical quirks. Occasional finger-flicking, humming, and other acts of self-stimulation are not uncommon. When he tells a story, he walks in circles, not looking anyone in the eye. About 19 months ago, he began walking with his left foot rotated outward. He was in Occupational Therapy at the time, and his therapist said it was likely an affectation due to his Autism. She, and his regular doctor, were none to concerned by it. Heck, with a gentle reminder he would bring it back to true.

Fast-forward a year. Oscar's foot has steadily turned further and further outward, and the right is also beginning to follow suit. He complained often of slight back and foot pain, and long walks become almost impossible. Growing concerned, we took him to a orthopedist in Hays, KS (about two hours from home). After examining him and taking x-rays of Oscar's feet and hips, the doctor gave us the news: It wasn't his feet that ere turning outward.

It was his hips.

We were devastated. The general consensus in the office was that his body had grown too fast and certain parts developed too slowly. The fear was that his hip bone was underdeveloped and unable to accommodate the leg bone (forgive the lack of technical jargon; that stuff goes right over my head). It was believed at that point that surgery, perhaps several, would be needed to correct it.

Cue parental panic.

On the orthopedic clinic's referral, we made an appointment with a pediatric orthopedic surgeon in Denver, CO (about 4 1/2 hours away). So we sat for a tense month, wondering and worrying and making plans, trying to decide how to break the news to Oscar when the time came. I lost a LOT of sleep those 31 days.

Finally, last Wednesday, we went to the Rocky Mountain Pediatric Orthopedics' office. More examination, more x-rays, more consultation. Finally, after two hours, the doctor got back to me. He explained the situation in detail, showed me the x-rays (and gave me copies to take home), and gave us the good news. Oscar did NOT need surgery. In fact, he recommended against it. Oscar's hip bones were developed normally. It was the muscles in his legs that did not grow properly. With a specially-made set of foot braces (that will also correct his falling arches, also a result of his odd "duck-walk") and regular exercise, specifically walking and swimming, his feet should turn back to true in time. He may need some physical therapy in the future.

But, for the time being, the news is all good. We're at peace, at least for the time being. At least, until we have to go to court next week. Stay tuned for details...