As a mother, there are few things more infuriating than when you take your child to the doctor, knowing something isn’t quite right, only to be given a metaphorical pat on the head and sent on your way, with the sure and certain knowledge that the doctor thinks you are a paranoid mum, over thinking things, imagining all manner of possible ailments and afflictions besetting your precious angel!
Mothers instinct is, it would seem, a mythical state, founded amidst the world of old wives tales and common misconceptions and should be consigned to the realms of make believe where you will find other gems, such as the symptoms which always seemed to accompany teething but which your GP always insisted were purely coincidental, as teething doesn’t cause things such as runny noses, fever etc……. apparently!
For years I argued that there was something wrong with the way Middle Mudlet moved, that her gait, especially when running, was odd. Then 4 years ago she began to experience pain in her knees and specifically, her right knee. At first we thought it was due to some silliness that had resulted in her slipping off a toy box and hurting her knee but after months of regular bouts of pain, it began to look like something else was wrong.
So the first of several visits to the GP to try and find out what was causing the pain, took place and we were sent home with calpol and told the problem would resolve itself in a few more weeks. But it didn’t and as she grew older, the bouts of pain became more frequent and lasted longer. Her primary school were wonderful in helping her through these times, ensuring that she sat out of PE lessons when high impact sports were being taught, was careful around the playground etc. and a few weeks on the pain would subside and normality returned – running club, hockey club, bike riding etc all resumed and life continued on until the next time her knee started to hurt and it was back to the doctor.
Each time I mentioned my worries about her gait and her very strange running action but each time we were sent away with more calpol or ibuprofen, another metaphorical pat on the head and I could almost hear the doctor saying “There, there! No need to worry. It’s all perfectly normal!”
Then last year, with secondary school looming, the bouts of discomfort became even more frequent and lasted for longer. Middle Mudlet was beginning to get a little worn down by these events and as frustrated as I was with the doctor.
“Will the pain ever go away?” she wept one day in early May last year.
So back to the doctor we went and I was determined to get this sorted out once and for all ……. and by some twist of fate, some happy happenstance, the doctor we saw that day not only really listened to my tale of woe and worry but turned out to be an orthopedic specialist. He carried out a thorough examination of Middle Mudlets’ legs and then announced that she had a degree of hyper-mobility, otherwise known as double jointedness which caused her knees to over extend!!!!
As a result he immediately referred her to a Physiotherapist who also diagnosed overpronation of her feet (which means they tip inwards when she walks, further unbalancing her knees) and prescribed special insoles to lift the arch of her feet which in turn corrected the position of her ankles and knees and, to some degree, the way in which she moved.
By the time she had started secondary school, her insoles were in place and we hoped that this would signal an improvement in her pain events. Sadly this was not to be the case and by the beginning of October she was in almost constant discomfort which even abstaining from PE for a couple of weeks didn’t resolve. As is the nature of Secondary Schools, she was simply doing far to much walking, whilst carrying an impossibly heavy school bag from class to class.
October half-term saw us back at the doctors. Unfortunately the orthopedic specialist had now left but thankfully his notes were plentiful and so the doctor we saw also listened. He prescribed a stronger dose of Ibuprofen and advised continued abstinence from PE and sent us on our way. By the beginning of November, Middle Mudlet was very low and at her wits end. There had been no respite from the pain she felt for weeks now and so we once again found ourselves back at the surgery.
Thankfully the doctor we saw realised things couldn’t go on as they were and referred her to an orthopedic pediatrician.
And so finally, after nearly 4 years, Monday of this week (11th) saw Mud, Middle Mudlet and I heading over the the Sheffield Childrens’ Hospital, where our little girl endured another uncomfortable leg examination and had a host of x-rays taken of her knees and hips.
Thankfully her hips are okay and though her left knee is slightly off kilter, it is at least stable, unlike the very unstable right knee. As well as the hyper-mobility and resulting over-extension of the knees, Middle Mudlet is also slightly knock-kneed and her right knee cap sits a little higher in the knee socket than it should. By far the worst part though is that all these issues have resulted in her knee cap having more lateral play than it should do (moving side to side more than it should) which is what is causing the main problem and in particular the instances when she feels like her knee has given way beneath her.
So now we are waiting for an appointment to see the physiotherapists at the local hospital, who will be teaching Middle Mudlet the knee strengthening exercises she will need to do for 30 minutes, every single day until she stops growing which will be when she reaches 15 or 16 years of age, after which point she will start to naturally stiffen up anyway and this will, it is hoped, solve her problems long term.
Middle Mudlet is relieved that we finally have answers and a solution, although the enormity of the work she will have to do has begun to hit home but she is determined to be pain free and able to join in with PE and start riding her bike again. As for me, I am so frustrated that I wasn’t listened too 4 years ago and it has taken this long for the GP to realise that sometimes a mother does know that something isn’t quite right …… it’s instinctive!