Hi, my name is Ryan and I’m 30 years old now, and I was born with bi-lateral clubfeet. I’ve been searching the Internet for some time now, trying to find a community on the web for people that are like me. It hasn’t been easy. I know it’s not something people share very easily, because I try to hide it whenever possible. But, I found this web site and thought I would share my story.
Growing up as a kid, I faced many obstacles having bi-lateral clubfeet. I had many surgeries starting at age 1. I had casts on both of my feet when I was a baby, and people would walk up to my mom and ask her how her little baby broke both of his feet! Although it upset her, I always thought the story was funny! I wasn’t able to walk until I was about 2, having full leg casts. When I started walking, I was fitted with braces until the age of 4. At that time, I wore corrective shoes for about 2 years and then moved on to regular tennis shoes. But even then, I had to wear corrective inserts that went into my shoes. As a kid, my skinny legs and oddly shaped feet never bothered me emotionally, it was something I would show off to my friends. I could do weird tricks with my toes! What bothered me was the pain, but it never stopped me from playing baseball, skateboarding, or any other fun activities. Many people with clubfeet will tell you, it makes you strong and your pain tolerance quite high.
The surgeries gave me the ability to walk, although my left foot was over corrected, giving me a flat foot, and my right foot was under corrected, giving me an extreme arch. I think I had a total of 5 surgeries through out my child hood. When I was 15, they performed a triple orthodeasis on my left foot; basically fusing the bones in my ankle, giving it limited movement. This surgery was the worst! I was in the hospital for 15 days and spent my summer in a wheel chair. Although I needed this surgery and it help with the pain; it was a hard 3 months. The surgeon accidentally cut the back of my calve with the laser cutter, losing almost 20% of my already small calve. Then, I got an infection in the cuts they made in my foot. But, I got through it, and again, I’m stronger because of it. I just wish the Ponsetti Method was available to me when I was a child.
As an adult, It’s very hard to deal with the pain and it affects my relationship with my kids in some ways. (Thank god they don’t have clubfeet) I can’t run very well and when I do, I pay for it later. At 30 years old, I’m already dealing with arthritis and the scar tissue makes my feet sore and stiff. Sometimes I can barely get down the steps in my house. When I’m not wearing shoes, I walk like I’m 80 years old. As I get older, my feet get worse. I’m nervous about my future and how long I will be able to walk. It’s difficult to think about sometimes. The good thing about it is that it affects me the worst in the winter. I know it sounds crazy, but my feet don’t bother me as much in the summer. Maybe it’s just me, I don’t know. I have no balance because of the shape of my feet and if I’m not paying attention to how I’m standing I will fall over. People sometimes ask me if I’m drunk! Anyways, what bothers me the most as an adult is the appearance of my legs and feet. I don’t own a single pair of shorts because my legs are so skinny and taking the kids swimming is simply out of the question. My wife does that, and she understands why I won’t go. I’m thankful to find someone that is so understandable of who I am.
It never bothered me as a kid, but as an adult, I can’t stand when people stair at my legs. It gives me a complex. The one time I took my kids to a water park I was humiliated. What I don’t understand is that it wasn’t kids that were starring, it was the adults. I didn’t know there is so many PERFECT people out there! Anyways, I make it easy on myself and just stay clear of the pool.
Despite dealing with the complications of clubfeet, I have a good life. I have a great family and we enjoy life together. My wife is amazing and likes who I am (I think!). I have a great job with a boss that understands my “situation”. I don’t let my clubfeet get in my way. My pain tolerance is something unreal! My family and I enjoy boating, golf, going to baseball games and just about anything worth trying at least once. It hasn’t stopped me yet! I would like to know or talk to someone who is dealing with clubfeet. I’m the only person I know with clubfeet.
If anyone would like to contact me, my E-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.