Erik and I went to the orthopedic center for an appointment with Jeff, the orthotist, early this morning. Erik was casted a few days ago for his new orthotics, an event I neglected to write much about because the story would have been identical to the one I related about his first casting over a year ago. In a nutshell, though, Erik yelled heartbreaking things and sobbed, I held him down with a weird, tight smile on my face, and Jeff plastered his legs like a mummy. I noticed Jeff's hands shook a bit as he worked. I am sure that all three of us wished the whole thing was over, and it eventually was. There was much rejoicing. And a glass of wine for lunch.
Today Erik won his battle with anxiety about riding the elevator there after a lot of coaxing and then simply gently coercing him to enter the thing. If I ever happen to meet someone from the Otis Elevator Company, I will be sure to inquire why they bother with the pleasant chime that sounds when the car stops at each selected floor when it is preceded by some sort of obnoxious, raspberry-like buzz from hell between floors. Little things like this sometimes make public outings difficult for Erik. As a result of these little surprises, I lose the first layer of my skin on whatever body part Erik latches onto, and I then have to scrape us both off the ceiling. Today, though, Erik was a champion, and I kept the skin on my arm.
When we located the office and were ushered in by an alarmingly perky receptionist, Erik cried again upon seeing the examination room. I shrugged at her and smiled as she turned to leave and held Erik tightly on my lap, playing with some toys we borrowed from the waiting room and asking him questions about construction equipment. Jeff entered and said hello. Erik replied, "Hi, buddy." After our initial pleasantries, Jeff then proceeded to remove the orthotics from a layer of plastic wrapping. As he did this, I struggled to keep my mouth from very slowly but surely falling completely open.
I couldn't help but think there had been some sort of dreadful mistake.
I was told they would be less bulky, and I suppose they are if you consider the fact there are two fewer straps and one less buckle on them. The joints are gone, and the casings are completely rigid. His lower leg is actually unfettered in the front, free to leave the brace if he decides to bend his leg to attempt a stooping position, although I'm not sure how this will work inside the legs of his pants. His foot will always be flat, making it impossible for him to walk on his toes, and that's the whole point of these wretched appliances.
In My Head: Let's see. Come on, Nancy. Look at the bright side! They're uglier than sin, but think of something positive. Pull yourself together, girl!
* They will hopefully continue to help him walk correctly and avoid costly, painful surgery in the future.
* They are clear.
* They will guard against rattlesnake bites.
This is not what I had pictured in my mind at all. As I probably told you before, a stranger once looked down at Erik, saw his orthotics, and asked him if he was about to go skiing. We happened to be at church drinking coffee at the time. See, I was only hoping they would be less boot-like to avoid this kind of awkward social interaction. Instead of ski boots, they resemble some sort of space age equestrian garb to me. They will look even more bizarre than his old ones did when he will put shorts on this summer, as they will likely flap around as he stoops down to play.
Jeff warned that Erik will walk "weird" and to call him in the next few days to report how he is adjusting to them. To make matters worse, his $60 tennis shoes no longer fit over the gigantic plastic feet. The company I depended on in the past for his special shoes seems to be in transition and/or discontinuing the one style that works with his clothing. I plan on spending tomorrow morning at Payless Shoe Source attempting to rip the guts out of children's sneakers without being arrested. Worse yet, I could be hauled in for questioning under the Patriot Act and questioned about my relationship with a guy named Richard Reid.
Wish me luck.