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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Metal plates, scars and Doctors! Oh My!

In December, 2009 my then-13 year old daughter had major surgery on both her legs at Shriners Hospital on both of her legs to correct her in-toeing. Basically, they sawed through both of her femurs to rotate her feet.

This was not an easy recovery time.

Essentially, each leg had a 8 to 10" cut, resulting in some nice scars. We opted to do both legs at the same time because she would have had a 6 week recovery on each leg, and it was 6 weeks for both also.

Of course, that was 6 weeks in a wheelchair and hospital bed, with no weight-bearing at all. We won't even talk about the first few days post-catheter. She said she loves catheters now. We got to be expert at moving her from wheelchair to bedside commode to bed, etc. Now, you have to understand that Lyndsey, at 13 was 5'8 1/2" and weighed 170 lbs. Momma, on the other hand, is 5'2" and 150 lbs, Daddy is 6'4", 175 soaking wet and has had back surgery so heavy lifting is not easy. There is so much you can do with draw sheets. Her arms got very strong. Don't even talk to me though, about the fact she had "that time of the month" 3 days after we got home from the hospital and couldn't wear underwear. Poor kid! Modesty went totally out the window for awhile and she didn't care what anybody saw!

Trust me, she didn't smile all the time like the photo above shows.

Anyhow, long story short. When she was 6, I noticed she was in-toeing some. Took her to local Shriner out-patient treatment where local doc saw her, basically patted me on head and said I was being paranoid. At age 8 we went to a orthopedic surgeon because she was still in-toeing. He said yes, she did have some in-toeing, but it was minor and wouldn't get worse. At age 10, teachers from her school were calling and saying she was tripping in the hall, etc. My husband finally (after his mother told him to), agreed that we needed to see the Shriners Clinic again.

Now, you have to go to a local clinic with a local doctor and be referred to the hospital. At that clinic, I am afraid I essentially threatened the doctor. The referral stated "mother insistent". The first visit, at age 10, to Portland was not real long. They did x-rays and the surgeon said he didn't think it'd get worse, and in his opinion, the surgery would be for strictly cosmetic reasons(also made a comment that she could stand to lose weight-the creep). Then they told us to go home and decide if we wanted surgery. Basically, she had already decided she wanted to have it fixed. We went back up a month later (mind you, this is a 6 hour drive one way) and went to the motion lab, where they did some stuff to determine where the in-toeing was coming from. It was below her hips, which surprised me. The folks in the motion lab actually made me feel better because they pointed out if it was not corrected, she would be in danger of falling more as she got older and bones became brittle.

Then, we waited for surgery. Because it was such a long procedure they told us it would be a while to be put on the schedule. We did get put on the short call list (they called once asking if we could be there the next day-needless to say, we couldn't). So, 3 years after that, she was finally on the schedule for surgery. The surgeon said it was difficult to determine how much change would actually occur, because of some reason, Lyndsey has too much flexibility in her muscles and ligaments.

She now has two metal plates in her legs holding the pins in place. These pictures were taken during surgery. You can see the pins and the plates.

In the next picture you can actually see the gap between the bones.

We go up to Portland this Thursday for her one year follow-up with the motion lab and surgeon. I see a minimal change and so I bet they offer more surgery. I also bet Lyndsey will say NO! And, this is her option at this point. I must admit I am frustrated! Even though the doctor told me finally that her condition could only have been corrected by surgery, it would have been much easier on Lyndsey and the rest of us if this had been done when she was 6, when I first noticed the problem.

What is my point to this particular blog, you ask? Simply don't be afraid to confront your doctors if you are not happy with their diagnosis. Next time, it might not be just a case of in-toeing. Lyndsey had also had strep repeatedly for a year and half when she was 5. I finally got a referral to a specialist and he was astounded by the condition of her tonsils and adnoids. A week later she had surgery. Don't let your physician intimidate you. Next time, it could be a matter of life or death!


  1. Ruth, you are so right! we have to stand up, when it comes to the health of our children, doctors are only human,just like the rest of us. they make mistakes too. And who knows your child better than the parent. I hope your daughters in toeing is corrected. Blessings jane

  2. Wow, that's alot for a young girl. But you are right, you are your own strongest advocate! Sometimes you really have to push hard!!!

    Good luck to your daughter!

  3. Poor kid! But the wounds looked wonderful so you did have a good surgeon. Just a shame you had to fight to get to that point.

  4. Very good advice for parents. Who knows our children better than we do? This is also something to keep in mind for ourselves. Who is more in tune with your body than you? Stick to your guns until you are satisfied with the results you get.