A note from Lauren, to integrate any bits and pieces we have or have not picked up about Lincoln's upcoming experience.
From the time he started walking, Lincoln has been on his toes and on the move. This behavior is fairly common among toddlers, however most children grow out of this habit by the time they turn five. After consulting with our pediatrician and the subsequent consultation with a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, he was given a diagnosis of "idiopathic toe walking." The "idiopathic" part indicates they don't actually know why he does it. While it can be linked to neurological conditions, in Lincoln's case it seems his brain and body simply learned to walk this way. Although it is quite endearing, it has been recommended we try to correct Lincoln's gait; the concern being that as his body grows, we want his joints to support him as optimally as possible. Tippy toe walking can make activity (daily, recreational, and competitive) challenging and painful if the joints, muscles, and tendons are not working as designed and can result in chronic pain later in life.
The treatment plan is called "serial casting" (google it), whereby they will place both of Lincoln's feet in casts at nearly right angles for 7-10 days to re-train his brain and body to walk using his heels and gently stretch the achilles and muscles of the calf. After 7-10 days we go back in for a new cast at a slight sharper angle. We will do this at least 4 times over the summer, hence the "serial" in the treatment plan. Our hope is that by the end of August (and before Kindergarten starts), Lincoln will be out of his casts and able to walk putting his heels to the ground. He will then transition into removable braces (google "AFO for toe walking"), which he'll wear for a year, along with physical therapy.
We believe this is the right thing to do to ensure Lincoln's body grows strong and he is not limited physically as he develops. It also means that his mobility will be hindered during the process, particularly the casts. While nonsurgical (he should not be in pain, though perhaps feeling discomfort or annoyance), he will be unable to climb the hill at Latourrette, splash in the water in the backyard, or do any of the dirty, wet, adventurous activities we love about Rivendell and summertime. They are your typical hard casts, so water, dirt, bark chips, sand, sweat, etc. are all to be avoided and can cause damage to his leg inside the casts since we cannot clean them (except when they come off and before a new one goes on).
The good news is that we are expecting to receive little "shoes" that can be strapped on over the casts so he can still walk on fairly solid even ground. Many parents report their kids learning to walk, or even run, (however awkwardly) once they get used to the new movement. We are speaking about this very matter-of-factly with Lincoln and not showing him that we have anything to be worried or scared about. This will be a summer of air conditioning, art, science experiments, cooking, and gardening. We'll get back into camping, swimming, and dirty sweaty (FUN) stuff next year.
I also know Lincoln adores his Rivendell friends and missing time with everyone breaks his heart. We hope to see you all over summer - even it if is for less active play dates. Lincoln's friends are as important to him as dragons and animals and losing time with any of you is our greatest worry. Thank you for your support for Lincoln as he embarks on this hero's journey.
Lauren, Josh, Lincoln, and Clara (of course)
We have talked about this as a group, and the kids are so supportive. I have decided this is an absolutely fabulous learning experience for all of us, and a real opportunity to grow as human beings, and to understand what special needs means, and how we can accommodate them. We will figure out how to make this work for all of us. None of us know exactly what this will look like, but I am confident we can all step up.
In other amazing news, ALL SIX LITTLE ANGELS TOOK A NAP!