Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Left Feet

They say things happen in threes. How true this is for my family. For a little while last month, only Big A had full use of all his limbs.

Towards the end of June, the Au Pair began limping about the flat. When I asked what was wrong, she showed me a mean-looking boil on her right leg, just above the knee. She'd scratched it, and it turned nasty. She was trying to self-medicate with leaves from a certain plant to draw out the infection, but when she needed antibiotics, I decided it was time to force her to see a doctor.

The doctor prescribed a much stronger antibiotic and a strict cleaning regiment for the boil, as well as a follow-up visit in a few days. Meanwhile, the Au Pair was unable to chase after Little A or do any work that required much walking or bending of her knee for the next two weeks.

A few days later, at the soft play centre after summer school, Little A and I were having some fun when, horror of horrors, age and general unfitness suddenly caught up with me and I twisted my right foot severely on an uneven padded surface. This ankle had been badly sprained two decades ago during my dancing days, so I expected the same ligaments and tendons were affected.

After hobbling home and managing to get about that evening, the following morning my ankle was very swollen and virtually immobile. I took Little A to school and then took myself to hospital to see an orthopaedic doctor who confirmed a grade 2 sprain, with several affected ligaments.

Two down, and only the men of the house left with full use of both legs then.

Apparently, I spoke too soon. 

Little A has been painting over the summer, and decided one afternoon that a metal sculpture/paperweight of a horse that Big A had on his bookshelf would be his inspiration for the latest abstract work. He placed the object on his easel, where it didn't balance quite right and a few minutes later I heard a thump, a scream, and then Little A hobbled over to me, with his foot hurt.

The iron horse had landed on his big toe. I iced it, applied bruise cream, and made him sit still for a few minutes, but since he is nothing if  not filled with energy (and having that extremely high pain threshold most autistic children do) he was soon mobile again.

I checked his toe and foot periodically, but there was no further swelling beyond the big toe, and it seemed all the joints were moving properly. However, being no stranger to damaged toes myself, (two decades of ballet will do that to you) I figured there would be more to this injury than met the eye.

True enough, over the next few weeks, Little A favoured the foot by rolling his ankle, or clicking his hip. His thigh muscles were affected too, resulting in a constant twitch that got so severe that at a children's party in the soft play centre, he voluntarily stopped playing since it was too hard, or painful, for him to get around an area he normally raced through with no problems.

I took him to the orthopeadic doctor who'd looked at my ankle. Big mistake. Ortho Doc, on finding out Little A was on the spectrum, did not even examine his leg properly, nor ask for any of the history leading to the injury. He quickly wrote a recommendation for a pediatric neurologist, babbled on about seizure activity and Little A needing an EEG and MRI, and threw us out of his office as quickly as he could.

While there is a relationship between autism and seizure disorders and we have been meaning to have those tests done anyway, I really didn't think this leg twitch was caused by that. Mother knows best, they say. 

The day before school was to resume, I took Little A to another clinic - one specialising in rehabilitation and sports injuries. The doctor who attended to him there was amazing, and is now my go-to man for all things related to this field. He asked me the full history, reviewed the video clips I took of Little A at the soft play centre both before and after the foot injury, and proceeded to tell me about how an injured big toe would affect the other areas of the leg in language I understood and could relate with as a former dancer.

Instead of ordering further therapy, he simply told me to let Little A be, as he is an active child and would use the leg himself as much as he could, strengthening it that way, and resting when it hurt. I took my son to the mall nearby, extremely relieved.

True enough, the muscle spasms decreased and then stopped over the next few days. School started, and I didn't even need to tell the nurse or his Occupational Therapist to watch for the thigh twitches. Little A's leg is mending itself.

The Au Pair's boil has gone as well, and my ankle is mending. So all's well once again.

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