|After being unable to see Eli's feet in several ultra sounds, we were finally able to see Eli's crooked little foot. We were so relieved that he actually had feet we didn't mind them being a little crooked :)
Eric and I are both planners so, once our shock and feelings of complete devastation started to subside, I went into Super-Mom mode.
The first thing I did was turn to my friends. I started asking around on Facebook and in my community of friends for names of the best Orthopedic surgeons in the city or surrounding states. It didn't matter to me where they were, all I cared about was if they were they best at giving my child a chance at a normal life. Fortunately, the best of the best, a doctor trained my Dr. Ponseti himself, works at our local Children's hospital. On top of that we live less than 10 miles from Children's.
Once we got a few names, we did a massive amount of research on each doctor. This helped us decide on who would potentially treat our son. Some people don't do any research, and some do more than we did. But as I said, we're both planners so this helped us reduce our stress and know what questions we should be asking.
The next thing I did was call the doctors and asked to set up a consultation. Don't wait to start calling doctors! We found out that the best Orthopedists are on wait lists. In fact, we had to let them know almost immediately after our consultation if we would be reserving a spot for Eli's treatment. (And yes, this is stressful!) Our doctor at the time, for example, was only accepting 6 new patients.
One of the most difficult things (out of hundreds) for me to handle during the consultation was being faced with the reality, that, well, this is real. My son will be born with club foot. There's part of you that denies this emotionally while you wrestle with it intellectually. However, once you walk into a Ortho Clinic there is no denying the reality of what's about to happen. It is heartbreaking to see all the little kids in casts, wheel chairs, and braces knowing in just a few short months, that will be your kid. :( I'm not sure anything could have prepared me for that kind of heartbreak!
Eric and I went into the consultation with a list of questions but hardly needed to ask any of them because, the nurse we met with was amazing, and covered everything and more. The most important thing she told us, was to call the Orthopedist as soon as Eli was born so they could get him an appointment to be casted.
So when Eli arrived, and the news made it to our friends and family, we called Children's.
I will never forget that call.
Marsha, the head nurse for our Orthopedist, answered the phone. She was SO excited Eli had arrived that she shouted to the department while we were on the phone, "One of our babies has been born! Eli is here!" She was just so elated, and clearly loves her job. That single phone call set the tone for the rest of our experience. It put my heart at ease. I knew Eli would be well cared for and loved like he was their own son.
Looking back Eric and I both believe it is more important than we realized to chose the doctors group you feel most comfortable with. A doctor with great bedside manner, a great group of nurses, and a staff with a compassionate heart. While Eli was in the intensive part of his treatment, we saw these people & spoke with them more often than our family or friends. They have become our biggest advocates and best shoulder to cry on. They've fought battles with the brace shop we could have never won on our own, helped with the endless insurance claims, and have become like family. Plus, when you are going to be spending the next 18 years in their office, you might as well choose someone you like & get along with right?!
In the end I'm not sure there is one "correct" way to go about this. But if we could boil everything we've learned into one list, it would look like this:
- Don't panic.
- Do your homework by talking to friends, family members, and doctors.
- Go for consultations, and meet people in person (if possible).
- Don't be afraid to ask questions.
- Pick a doctor who's highly recommended AND you like. You need to have a good relationship with the Doctor and his / her staff, because you will have questions and you need to trust their answers.
- Follow-through on your treatment for your child.