Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Curve Ball

Today we took David to see a new orthopedist. We just haven't been happy with the doctor he has seen for 10 years and decided to get a second opinion. We've been complaining about David's feet since he started walking ... prolonged toes, flat feet, misshapen legs ... but his old orthopedist just considered it "normal, considering".

We get that a lot, "normal, considering".

"Considering that he has cerebral palsy, you should be happy that he can ..."

Not the words we like to hear.

A few weeks ago I noticed that David was always in pain after playing with the Scouts. We started him back on the strengthening drills, but something just wasn't right. As a parent, sometimes all we have to rely on is that "something just isn't right" feeling.

So we took him to a new orthopedist. First set of ex-rays revealed bone tumors on his lower leg, which would explain the pain he was in. The doctor assures us that most tumors are benign, but we have to go back for more x-rays next month to monitor him. Didn't see that one coming.

He does have fallen arches (like his father) and will also be fitted for special shoes, something his old doctor was reluctant to do.

Fallen arches is a condition in which the foot doesn't have a normal arch. It may affect one foot or both feet. Most people have a gap between in the inner side of the foot and the ground when they are standing. This is referred to as an "arch". Feet that have a low arch or no arch at all are referred to as flat feet or fallen arches. On standing the patient will have a flat arch and the foot may roll over to the inner aspect.

The symptoms vary depending on the severity of the condition. Individuals may experience corns, hard skin under the sole of the foot. The arch area may be tender and shoes will tend to wear out quickly. In severe cases the patient may experience calf, knee and hip pain.

David first met his original orthopedist when he was eighteen months old. We had rejected the first two doctors the HMO recommended before selecting the head of Pediatric Orthopedist at Children’s Hospital Orange County. His original doctor is obviously a learned man who has probably seen most things related to children’s orthopedics. At our first meeting, he examined David’s recent brain MRIs and his medical history. At our initial meeting, Dr. R. informed us that in his medical opinion, David would have severe cerebral palsy and would likely be a vegetable. Meanwhile, David Jr. was walking around the doctor’s office, pulling everything that interested him. Then the good doctor asked us, “When can you bring him in for me to examine him?” We pointed at David Bear and informed the good doctor that the very active toddler was David, and the good doctor remarked

“No. More than 75% of David’s brain is damaged. He has cerebral palsy. Didn’t they tell you that at the hospital?”

We informed the good doctor that, yes, they did tell us that Bear had cerebral palsy, but that we thought it meant that he would walk with a limp. I use to teach karate in Baltimore, MD, and several of my students had cerebral palsy. They all walked with a limp, so we taught him to walk with a limp. He shook his head in amazement, implemented a more rigorous physical and occupational therapy course, and sent us on our way.

We spent the next few months teaching David to walk without the limp. We wouldn’t see Dr. R. for another few months, but David continues to be followed by Dr. R. for the cerebral palsy. He was treating Bear for his fallen arches, but we were unhappy with the treatment.

If you aren't happy with a medical opinion, get a second opinion. Familiarity breeds contempt, so often it's best to have a fresh set of eyes look at the same set of facts.

So what did we do when life threw us this curve ball? We decided to seize the day.


  1. Praying for your family!

  2. Wow amazing. I love the statement Familiarity breeds contempt . . .