Three days ago my 4 year old refused to put his AFO on, which is quite uncommon for him. He's been wearing it since he was just under 2 and finally learned how to put it on himself this summer. No help from me needed.
I took a look at his ankle and there was this big bump. I had seen it before, only it had been smaller then. Noticed it for the 1st time at the beach and asked him if it hurt. He said 'No Mommy'. I told him to let me know if it did because we might need to get it - and the AFO - checked out.
A few weeks go by, school is in session and I'm not seeing it all the time but he is insisting it does not bother him. I should have known it was. When he finally broke down I asked how long it had hurt for and he said a long time. "Baby, WHY didn't you tell me?", I asked.
Why didn't he tell me? Because at 4 years old when all you remember is always going to different doctors visits - the pediatrician, allergist, neurologist, pediatric orthopedist, plus physical and occupational therapy - they all blend together. And doctors = shots, don't they? My baby was afraid the bump on his ankle would mean he would get a shot so he kept telling me it was not bothering him to avoid that shot he was so sure he would need.
I felt terrible. I wanted to cry as I tried explaining there would be no shots for something like this, that they just might need to stretch out his AFO or make a new one. HOW did I not realize he would try to get out of yet another doctors appointment.
This afternoon we got an appointment with orthotics and it turns out that the AFO was not too tight at all. The bump occurred over the course of the summer - most likely from the time I had him start putting on the AFO himself. The nice man holding his AFO explained to me that this would occur if he was not getting his foot all the way down into the AFO before putting his shoe on. And, he mentioned, that at 4 he should not be putting on his AFO by himself.
I stammered as I tried to explain that I just wanted him to be independent and he smiled and said he understood but he is really too young to know if he is not doing it right. So embarrassing.
He did change the straps on the AFO so it would not rub against the ankle and even adding some extra padding for us. My 4 year old tried it on and smiled and said how much better everything felt and off we went.
The whole drive home all I could think of was that this... this was my fault. What seemed like a simple thing to have him do... really was not. After finding out he had cerebral palsy at 18 months old, I have always tried to push him in a way to do everything that he can. He was potty trained and fully dressing himself by two and a half. There are still days when he needs help and can't get his socks on right, but I always make him try. Because I don't want there to be a Single thing he can't do. The twins though? Potty trained by 3, but still have days where neither one can get themselves dressed. Some days they throw a tantrum over not being able to get their underwear back up. Which they are perfectly capable of, and yet I jump in sometimes and so it for them. Not my other guy though, and that realization broke my heart a little.
In wanting him to be so independent I had let his ankle get sore. Not to mention taking it a little too easy on his younger brothers because they didn't need me to be as tough I felt like. Another parenting fail.
Someday I'll get this hang of this, right?