Today was a big day in our world. Charlie received her ankle foot orthotics (AFO). Things did not go as smoothly as I had hoped but we made the best of it.
After a lovely drive through the mountains, we arrived at the appointment a few minutes early. Charlie used the extra time for play in the large play area at the clinic. Once again, Charlie sat on the floor and watched the other toddlers walk circles around her. I thought, “You won’t be grounded for much longer.”
After a short while, Charlie was called back for her fitting. She sat on my lap while the AFOs were fitted. During the casting a few weeks ago, she picked out a pattern with puppies playing baseball. I presume it was for the puppies. When the AFOs came out of the box, they had soccer balls, baseballs, and basketballs. No puppies. I don’t think she noticed. However, it did ruin my plans to distract her during the fitting by barking with her. She cried and sang a sad song while they were put on her. I consoled her with the promise of new shoes.
The man from the clinic’s orthotics department (he is pretty great) provided instructions for breaking in the orthotics. Charlie is to wear her AFOs several times today for one hour at a time, several times tomorrow for two hours at at time, and continue to increase by an hour each day. We were also given many helpful suggestions for footwear.
We left to buy Charlie’s first pair of shoes immediately after the fitting was over.
At the shoe store, a shoe employee helped me find the suggested shoes to fit over the braces. Charlie sat silently as we tried one pair after another. They were bland, clunky, and boys’ shoes. She refused to look at them. Instead, her eyes were fixated on a few sparkly pairs. She smiled and laughed when I handed them to her. Charlie had picked out what she wanted.
Despite my best efforts, I was unable to get the black sparkly shoes to fit over the braces. Defeated, I returned to the bland shoes. Charlie cried when the sparkly shoes were returned to the shelf.
I felt bad and wanted to cry as well. I wanted to yell, “Buying my baby’s first pair of shoes was not supposed to be like this!” After taking a moment to breathe, I decided that I was going to make the black sparkly pair work. She was so good about the AFOs. At least, she could get the shoes she wanted. I asked for a pair of scissors and went to work. I pulled out the insoles and modified other aspects of the shoes. Thankfully, after all that, they fit and Charlie was delighted.
At home, she tried wearing the AFOs and shoes for a second one hour period. She stood independently for the first time. Unfortunately, she is afraid to let go due to all the failed past attempts. Despite her apprehension, she moves nicely as she cruises. It won’t be long until she takes her first steps. I think it will happen once she becomes more confident and gets used to the new movement. It may even be a matter of days.