Our Clubfoot Journey : Casting
Isley had her first casting when she was just 9 days old. That first appointment we assumed would be a consultation. However, when we got into the exam room at the orthopedist and saw the plaster casting materials, we knew she would get her first cast that day. I’m not going to lie, that day was tough.
Isley before her first casting
Isley cried (the doctors assured us that was only because she was being fussed with and that it didn’t hurt her at all). I most definitely cried. Not just because I had to watch my tiny girl lay there crying while two people applied casts that went from her toes to the edge of her diaper. I cried because I wasn’t ready for this. I sat in that exam room already longing for the legs and feet that I wouldn’t be able to touch, rub or even see for the next week. I felt like I hadn’t taken enough pictures of her feet. I hadn’t kissed her tiny toes enough and I hadn’t had enough time to cuddle her close without a hard cast interfering.
After our initial shock and a bit of fussiness from Isley, we got used to the casts pretty fast. After all, they would be a part of our lives for the next two months. They didn’t slow our girl down one bit. She could lift her legs, roll to her side and loved banging her casts against anything and everything. The next six weeks went like this: Every Thursday we went to the hospital. The doctor stretched and manipulated her little foot, they put the new cast on, we headed home and went on with our week and the night before her appointment we had to soak and remove her cast. That’s right we had to take them off ourselves!
All that our doctors told us about removing the cast was “Just soak them and remove the plaster”. We thought it would be as easy as they made it sound…it wasn’t. Her first cast took us 3 hours to remove. We soaked her legs in her baby bathtub forever and the casts were still hard as a rock. Then we moved on to wrapping soaking wet washcloths around the casts. Eventually they were soft enough for us to remove with a pair of blunt tip nurse’s scissors.
As the weeks went by we got much better, faster and more creative at taking them off. Our method for removing them was as follows: Soak two washcloths in warm water and wrap around casts. Place baby’s legs in a gallon size Ziploc bag. Fill with a solution of warm water and white vinegar. Close bag as best we could and wrap baby in a towel. Soak for 30 minutes while gently squeezing the casts to help soften the plaster. Once the plaster feels soft, remove the bag and washcloths and carefully cut down the sides of the casts where the plaster is the thinnest. Give baby a bath and enjoy an evening with no casts.
After Isley’s first cast
I looked forward to those cast free nights more than anything in my life. It was the best thing ever to be able to play with her feet and snuggle without casts in our way. Isley had 7 castings followed by a tenotomy. In children with clubfoot, the Achilles tendon is too short and needs to be lengthened. I was so nervous about this procedure but it really wasn’t that bad. The incision is so tiny and the whole procedure took maybe 20-30 minutes. The worse part about it was that we couldn’t be in the room with her. Oh, and the gigantic casts that they put on afterward!
The final casts
These casts remained for three weeks instead of the usual one. They were HUGE. We definitely got some funny looks when we were out and about (more on that later), but by then we were so used to the casts that it was just normal for us. Those three weeks seemed to take forever, mostly because we were so looking forward to the next step: The Ponseti brace.