I was born on Christmas Eve in 1956 with a bilateral clubfoot. The doctors told my parents that they had never seen such a severe case of clubfoot and they cautioned my parents that I may be mentally impaired as well. My poor mom spent the first 3yrs of my life looking for signs of retardation as she manipulated my feet twice a day, soaked me in a tub every sat night to take of the weekly casts. I got to go to church in real shoes, but every Monday we returned to the clinic to have new casts applied.
When I was 6 the operations began. I had 8 operations before my 9th birthday. I can still remember the terror of having that mask strapped to my face and the sickly, sweet stench of ether being pumped into my lungs as i gasped for air. When the casts came off, the orthopedic shoes with attached braces went on. I accept my legs and feet as simply who I am. Because of them, I have a keen sense of humor and have learned to make fun of myself. Kids are cruel and I endured teasing and taunting because of my feet, but I have also had lifelong friends that have been there for me.
When I was 19, the doctors convinced me to have a triple artrodices, promising me that this operation would cure me and enable me to run, ski, skate, etc. Wrong! After 4 months of painful recovery, I did not experience a pain-free step for the next 20yrs! The foot they “fixed” became riddled with arthritis and never healed properly. The other foot, however, seems to be doing just fine without any intervention. I have not worn corrective shoes or braces since my 19th birthday.
The doctors convinced me to have the final surgery by telling me that without it, I would be in a wheelchair by the time I was 30. I am thrilled to say, that I am still able to walk, if a little slower than most. I can ride a bike and swim…activities I should do more often! If the day comes that I must use a wheelchair, I shall be sure it is shiny and fast and I’ll be out having fun, if not shopping for high heels or miniskirts.