I had a blast on Thursday afternoon shoe-shopping for Miss Abbie. The weather was so terrible that I didn’t want to take Abbie out in it, so I sketched the length of her foot on a piece of paper and headed to town.
Turned out all the shoes I’d been drooling over at Sports Authority were for older girls, sizes 3 and up. Rats. So, I left there and went to the New Balance store, knowing I would need wide shoes. The clerk helped me size the drawing, and we figured she would need a 13 or 13 1/2 depending on the orthotics. She had one style in each. The 13 was pink with velcro straps, while the 13 1/2 was a purple lace-up style. I’d heard velcro works better with orthotics, but when I got home I was concerned to see that both pairs looked tremendously too big for her feet.
Matt came in to give his expert opinion, and told me that the purple pair was an absolute must, no question. Abbie obviously agreed. I explained to both of my fashion mavens that we needed to choose the pair that FIT, not the pair we thought was the prettiest.
The next day I took both pairs to therapy, along with a pair of size 12s I had at home, since the other two looked so much too big. Abbie spent close to an hour on a bolster swing — you can think of it like riding a horse. Towards the end of the session the therapist, Jayna, traded places with me so I could swing my girl. It quickly became obvious that, just like always, the higher we went the more Abbie liked it.
Our talented orthotist, Kai Newton, arrived with a pair of orthotics that looked MUCH different than I thought they would. I’d expected the ones that go almost to the knee and are quite noticeable. Abbie’s have a flexible sock-like cushion, custom-molded to her foot, that goes on first. Then we put the clear, somewhat flexible orthotic over it. It only comes up a few inches above her ankle. Pink straps completed the perfection.
We tried the pink shoes on first, but they didn’t fit so well. So, we unlaced the purple ones and slipped them on. Abbie cried. I told her, “This is like all the things we’ve done for the first time after your cast — at first it may hurt a little, or be scary, but in no time this won’t bother you at all.”
The shoes fit perfectly – so, Matt and Abbie got their wish! Here are Abbie’s first pair of tennis shoes in four years:
I cried. Jayna was overwhelmed. She asked me “Do you still have that Nemo?” She was referring to a stuffed Nemo that we placed under Abbie’s feet in the PICU. Jayna sat her up in a chair before her eyes were even open, and when Abbie followed our instructions to go find the Nemo below her feet with her heels, Jayna become one of our first advocates in our “Abbie Is In There” campaign. Her asking about Nemo was validating for both of us just how far we have come, and how much hope and progress remain to be realized.
Here’s a picture of Kai. He was surprised I wanted a photo of him, but he does such an amazing job, and his efforts truly improve Abbie’s quality of life. If you’re on Oahu and need orthotics, call him at Advanced Prosthetics!
Daddy came home from a week in Nashville to find his girl up in her wheelchair with big ol’ purple shoes that were just MADE for walking. And, now when we put them on we get smiles instead of tears…more progress!
The angle of this picture makes her feet look even bigger. I don’t watch much TV, but for some reason I’ve seen the “King of Queens” episode about the “big hand portrait” more than once. This picture made me think of that and laugh. We’ll be changing out her foot plates soon — we’d put ones on to accommodate knees that didn’t bend. Now, they are just getting in the way of knees that do bend and feet that want to be flat — hurrah!
It continues to rain, fiercely at times — my apologies to those here on vacation, what a bummer — but there is so much sunshine in our house that the grey outside has no chance of pressing in. These are good days!