Monday, March 24, 2008

One Foot Wonder

It seems the 23rd was a significant day for many of my blogging friends. Several birthdays, an engagement, and of course, Easter. For us, it is the one year mark of Reid's amputation. Last year on March 23rd, he began the day with two feet and ended the day with one.



I remembered watching a sitcom shortly before this event. Although what they were talking about was completely unrelated to a real amputation, the guy had said something like..."if you knew your leg was going to get cut off tomorrow, would you sit around and feel sorry for yourself or spend the day running, jumping and doing awesome kicks?" So we spent the day before the surgery running, jumping and doing awesome kicks. Actually, Reid could hardly walk. But we spent the day in Cincinnati and went to the aquarium and all kinds of fun kid stuff.



We were hoping Reid wouldn't learn to walk before the amputation so he wouldn't know what he was missing and so he wouldn't have to re-learn to walk later. As luck would have it, he took his first steps just five days before the big event. He was almost 14 months old and had been cruising for quite sometime, but with his leg length discrepancy, his balance was a little off.



We all dealt with the amputation surprisingly well. There were a lot of prayers said in our behalf. I'm sure our strength was a direct result of prayers. I kept waiting to have a breakdown. The week of, the day of, the trip to the hospital, sending him off to surgery, when I saw him afterwards. No breakdown. I held together well. I was surprised at how laid back I was when I sent him off with the surgeon. As I should have been because all went smoothly. It helped that he'd gone under before...remember, Halloween - swallowing the straight pin. The whole staff at the children's hospital was fantastic. I didn't take any pictures. I meant to, but seeing a little one year old in a hospital gown and a HUGE cast all drugged up was kind of a sad sight. I thought I wouldn't really want to remember that part of it. But now I wish I had a picture.

Reid was recovering at lightening speed. The surgery was Friday. He came home Saturday. We took him to church on Sunday. Then there was Monday...

Spencer was working at the university and going to school at night. He had with him our only car. I wasn't planning on going anywhere. I took the boys on a wagon ride. We were playing in the back yard. I was chatting with neighbors over the fence...a picture perfect evening. It was time to go in and clean up for bed. I scooped Reid up and his cast fell off...with no foot or ankle to keep it on, it could easily slip. I freaked out. I was dealing well, but I certainly wasn't ready to see the stump...swollen and covered with black stitches and dried blood from the surgery. Reid's stump was barely held together with millions of stitches trying to make skin stick together where it just wasn't natural. It was horribly gruesome.

I was alone. Spencer had the car and I couldn't get a hold of him. I spent hours on the phone trying to get a doctor to tell me what to do. I luckily had some gauze and tape and ace bandages in my cabinet. Not much, but enough to get Reid through the night. And so I had to re-bandage my screaming kid alone. He was in so much pain and didn't want to hold still. And wrapping it made him cry harder. I hated that. I could hardly stomach looking at it...plus I hate hurting my kid. It was miserable. The lowest point of the whole event. I had to re-bandage it at least once a day for the next four weeks. It got easier...especially as the stitches started falling out and his stump started to heal. He was in a lot less pain.

He got his first prosthetic just a couple months later and learned to walk in record time. He was running around by July.

Now it's such a normal part of life. Who knew phrases like, "where's your leg?", "go get your foot", or "no stumps on the dinner table" would regularly fill our home.

I think the hardest part of the whole ordeal (besides the cast falling off) was actually hearing the news. When Reid was born, Spencer noticed right away that he was missing a toe, but he otherwise looked normal. As we inspected his leg and foot the next few days in the hospital, We could see some slight differences, but it was hard to tell on such a tiny little thing (if you call 9 lbs 11 oz tiny). The doctors at the hospital gave us a false sense of security. They told us he was just missing a toe. One leg looks smaller...but it must have been cramped in the womb...it will catch up. They referred us to a pediatric orthopedist anyway.

At about 5 days old, we had a visit with the orthopedist who informed us Reid had fibular hemimelia and that amputation would almost certainly be in his future. That was it...the hardest part of the whole affair. As parents, the worst case scenarios kept racing through our heads and keeping us up at night. How hard would it be to have your child's foot amputated? How awful would it be when he got made fun of by kids at school? Would he ever "make the team?" He had no fibula. His foot was unable to stabilize on his leg. His foot was small and missing a toe as well as the whole ray of bones associated with that toe. His leg was shorter and would become even more significantly shorter as time went on.

Reid also got to visit a geneticist. I loved that. I remember the genetics chapter in junior high biology. I am sure I said aloud..."when will I ever need this?" That was the time. I actually used my junior high knowledge of genetics. I found the genetic aspects completely fascinating.

We had a couple more visits with the orthopedist that year. Spencer and I did a lot of reading up on it throughout the year and decided to amputate sooner rather than later. It was a weird decision to make as a parent. The doctor was surprised at our eagerness to amputate. Most parents can't get past it and make that decision. Some parents wait until their child's teenage years so they can make their own decision. Those kids tend to have a harder time adapting to the amputation. The sooner the better. I will never regret amputating so young. Reid has no memory of having two feet. Although he recognizes he is different...he doesn't know life any other way. He has had a fear of doctors ever since.

He is a well adjusted and very happy kid. This spring is the first time I've seen any disappointment in him with regards to his leg. He feels a little left out when we all leave the house in flip flops and he can't wear them. He gets over it quickly.

Of all the problems and scenarios you ever dream up having to experience as a parent with your children, this is one that never would have crossed my mind. I never expected to have a child that wears a prosthetic leg. I was completely shocked and unprepared. I also have never thought much about what the parents go through when dealing with this kind of situation...my thoughts tend to go towards the child. I have learned more about prosthetic legs then I ever thought I would. I do find it fascinating.


I am so grateful for modern science and knowledgeable doctors. I look forward to a time when Reid will run again on his own two feet.

22 comments:

Amanda B. said...

I can't believe it has been a year!! You are all incredible! He is such a strong/ cool little guy! I enjoyed reading about this!

LDS Businesses said...

You are truly one amazing woman. And mom. You are my hero :)

Shalece said...

sorry that LDS businesses was me, Shalece. (something I was thinking about starting) I was playing with it and forgot to log out. oops

Lauri said...

You have really handeled this so well that I sometimes I forget what a traumatic event it was. What a remarkabel experience. Reid is lucky to have come into the family he has in order to deal with it. It will make all of the difference in his life!

Traci Elizabeth said...

I honestly can't believe it has already been a year since the surgery. At least he will always only have one stinky foot instead of two, thats something! =)

I couldnt read the part about the cast coming off. I vividly remember that story from you last year and when I saw it coming up I just had to read past it, I can't imagine, more as a mom than anything, how hard that must have been! Reid is lucky to have you and Spencer, and you are lucky to have little Reid!

Katie said...

Traci...you have no idea how stinky a stump can get. I'd take 20 stinky feet over a stinky stump any day.

Pedersens said...

Wow Katie, I never knew what really happened so I too enjoyed reading about it. What an expeirence to have to go through as a family. You are such a strong women and Reid is very lucky to have you and Spencer as parents. Reid is an awesome little boy!

Kelly said...

I can hardly believe it has been that long! I so remember it, though- you didn't even tell many people- you are so amazingly strong, seriously, I don't think I could've gone through all you have! Reid is an amazing kid, and super strong in so many ways...he is not different, just diverse, and that is amazing! We love him!

jeanine said...

Wow! A year already! I remember a lot of this from the email you sent last year. You are seriously amazing... Reid is lucky to have you.

utmomof5 said...

I had no idea!!!! What a strong mom you are. My oldest had out patient surgery when he was 4. Nothing like your son but it was still horrible. For some reason they did not put him under before I had to leave him. Thankfully the nurse was LDS (we did not live in Utah at the time) and she asked me what his favorite primary song was. She sang it to him until he was under. She was absolutly heaven sent. Thanks for sharing your story with us. We never know what this life will bring to us.

Valarie said...

I had no idea this had even happened. Man, aren't kids amazing? They are so resilliant. It's amazing how much I have learned from my daughter through all of her physical trials. I have more of a problem dealing with any set backs than she. Sometimes being a mom is hard, but you are obviously doing an amazing job. :)

Crystal said...

I really look up to ya'll for how you held yourselves together during that time. You learned a great lesson and passed that trial with flying colors. Thanks for being an example.
PS Your boys are just the cutest things!!

Erin said...

I had no idea about this at all. What an ordeal and it sounds like he is blessed to have you guys for parents. I knew you were amazing I just didn't know you were this amazing. Rock on my dear!!!

Erin said...

I meant to say introduce him to swimming. He can so do that. And it was so much fun and is great excercise!!

Autumn said...

Wow, thanks for sharing the details of that story!! It is so interesting. I would be so terrified with his leg getting dirty. Ahh!! I don't know how I'd respond. I love all of the pictures of his feet!

jeanine said...

ps... just read your new parkerisms... HILARIOUS

Cynthia said...

I can't believe it's been a year either. You and Spencer are absolutely amazing. You've got lucky lucky boys.

SHIRLEY'S said...

WOW! that is one story... You totally need to make your blog a book. I dont know if you knew that you could. I just found out. Its blurb.com. I started one for Jackson's first year but stopped. Anyway, you are one amazing mom! and Thanks for the story. I never knew the story behind his "new leg."

Roberts Family Ramblings said...

Hi Katie, Your mom is my visiting teacher, but even more so my friend. She sent me a link to your story and I just wanted to thank you for sharing. It truly brought tears to my eyes. What an amazing mom Reid has. There will be some things he misses in life but so many more that he gains because of this as well as all of you. You are my hero too!!

Abbey said...

You are amazing and of course you made me cry. I am so happy that Reid has adapted so well. You and Spencer are awesome parents. Reid is so blessed to have you guys as his parents.

Niki said...

Hi, It's Niki, mom to max and madeleine (who also has fibular hemimelia) (madeleineandmax.blogspot.com). I'm glad you found me and it was nice to read your post about your son's one year anniversary. Ours is coming up shortly and boy, does it bring up some feelings for me.

I have some questions...
Madeleine had a full body cast so that it couldn't come off- why didn't they do that for Reid?
Is Reid not walking or running yet? Did you go to a physical therapist? What is his prosthesis like? Where do you go? I'm assuming you live in Ohio- I heard that there is a fantastic hospital in Columbus, is this where his surgery was done?
Hope you don't mind me asking- just curious.
Niki

Nicole said...

Wow, what a hard thing to do as a parent. You are a strong woman and that is wonderful that you have an amazing husband at your side!