“You really need to see a doctor about that, dear” an Italian older woman sitting next to me on the beach at Riis Park repeated in a tone that said “listen to me, I know kids.”
New Yorkers are many things – loud, brash, know-it-alls – and, as I found in the summer of 2006, medical experts quick to dispense advice. Back then I had strangers stopping me on the streets, in restaurants and in parks to point out the obvious: my 18-month-old had bowed legs.
Before her 2nd birthday Savannah had a medical file the size of the Manhattan phone directory. The offshoot of being born with a rare endocrine condition is that unexplainable events occur in which there is no research or data. One, in particular, was that she developed Blount’s disease, a condition that affects predominately African-American children, which Savannah is not, and where the inner part of the shinbone, just below the knee, fails to develop normally, causing the legs to bow.
For a couple of years, she had to sleep with this God-awful brace that consisted of a bar with a stiff, old-fashioned baby shoe on each end. She has so memory of the brace, and I had pushed it aside until the other day while in Midtown I spotted a 40-something man with severe bowed legs. The bow forced him to walk on the outside of his foot and was painful to watch. It brought back memories of those scary visits to orthopedist’s office and I couldn’t help but wonder why his parents never sought medical intervention.
Consumed with the demands of Savannah’s condition, I forgot about the miracles along the way. Today, I thank God for that horrible brace and the doctor with Looney Tunes ties who helped my daughter.