My name is Sydney, and I’m 35 now. I was born with a severe unilateral clubfoot, my left. My mother told me that it was bad enough that the toes of that foot almost touched that knee. My first surgery was at about six months old, and did pretty much nothing to help me. I spent some time going through serial casting, don’t know how long, but I was told that the casts never slowed me down, and that I learned how to crawl and how to climb the ladder on a bunk bed with them on. After about age 3, I was put into twister cables to try and correct it. My mother didn’t like the fact that wearing them made me cry every time, so, thankfully, she didn’t make me wear them like I should have, which we learned would have probably completely wrecked that knee.
I had my second surgery when I was about 5. I don’t know exactly what the surgery was, but I was told it was long, about 8 hours, and that they removed the bones in my ankle and part of my foot and put them back where they belonged. Since that surgery, I’ve been able to play sports, go hiking and backpacking, and I work a physical job that keeps me on my feet all day. That calf is underdeveloped, which I guess is pretty common for a unilateral clubfoot. My left foot is just over two sizes smaller than my right, which provided lots of entertainment when dealing with people in shoe stores. (Give the sales clerk the size for your left foot, and try the shoe on with the right foot.)
After reading what some other people have been through, I have to consider myself really lucky. I never dealt with any kind of teasing about my leg, and it’s never really slowed me down. I did, and still do, get a lot of attention on that leg because I developed a hypertrophic scar after the surgery. And two orthopedic surgeons have told me that the issues I have sometimes (stiffness, occasional decrease in flexibility) are from the scarring interfering with the joint and not a result of the surgery or the clubfoot. I have a flat ankle bone on the inside of that leg, no knot like most people, which usually makes people think that my ankle is incredibly swollen and I’ve done something terrible to it, so I’ve spent a lot of time explaining what a clubfoot is.
For me, it’s all just part of who I am. The scarring and the look of that ankle have been that way for as long as I can remember, and it’s never stopped me from doing anything that I wanted to do. My parents were lucky enough to find an incredible surgeon for me, and I’m glad every day that they did.