I was born with bilateral club foot.
Club foot, if left untreated, causes the person to walk on their ankles or on the sides of their feet.
With early treatment the turned feet can be fixed with serial casting- the most common method known as the Ponseti method. This is how my feet were fixed.
|Giant cloth nappies + chunky baby + plaster casts = heavy baby|
|Each week the casts were soaked off for new ones to be applied.|
|(Check out that thigh chub!)|
Mum says people used to look at her strangely, pushing around a pram holding a baby kicking around two casts. She felt people judging her, as though she'd done something and hurt me.
Treatment only lasted six weeks and some physiotherapy beyond that, but that was all the time it took to fix my deformity forever and give me a normal life.
This week I have been working in the orthopaedics ward. It is full of gorgeous kids who had club feet, bowed legs, wind-swept knees and other issues. Each day this week we have seen these kids return from surgery to the ward, legs now straight in plaster casts.
I think about what they have already been through, living life in the community being teased and called names by others on the streets and at school because of how they look different. I try to imagine what my life could have looked like had I been born here in Africa and not had the money for someone to look at and fix my feet. Some of the older adults with deformed legs or feet have to crawl on their hands and knees through the streets because their deformed limbs cannot carry the weight of a normal adult body. I cannot imagine life like that, yet that is a reality for what my life could have looked like.
All it takes to fix club foot is early intervention with serial casting and on the ship we get to be a part of bringing healing to these feet and restoring hope. I love that.