Bilateral Club Foot
More than 22-years-ago, I was anxious and scared about my sonogram appointment. The technician doing the procedure took over an hour to do the procedure as he kept scanning my stomach, over and over again, taking more images than we expected. He called in other doctors to look over the images - my nerves were wound as tight as can be as fear set in of a possible bad prognosis! What did they find? Someone talk to me! When they finally spoke, I couldn’t hear a thing… I know they said something but I couldn’t make it out.
Finally, I heard it, “severe clubbing of the feet!” I didn’t understand, but the images they showed me had Ares’ feet 180 degrees in the opposite direction. I was very scared. It all was happening so fast, and as I was trying to process what was happening, the team of doctors at NYU Hospital recommended that I get an amniocentesis to check if there were any other severe fetal abnormalities. I was a so relieved when the test came back normal. It was so much to process, and I still had not wrapped my head around the severe clubbing of his feet.
That’s how I finally met Dr. Feldman, at the NYU Hospital of Joint Diseases, back in 1998. He was confident and kind, and really took his time when reviewing all of Ares’ sonograms. He told me not to worry and that he’ll take good care of Ares – it was an “easy fix,” he said. Ares will be just fine.
As Dr. Feldman sat me down to explain what was going on, he laid it all out, a step-by- step course of treatment Ares would need, from the moment he was born, and beyond. First, Ares would have to cast both of his legs, from the thighs down, a week after his birth, until his first surgery at just 3 months old. And, a second surgery scheduled just a month after that.
From the moment we met, I knew Dr. Feldman was a very special doctor, putting me at ease and being reassuring as he listened to my concerns. He spoke to you, not at you, explaining every detail of the process. He truly cared about us, and all of his patients, and our care. When Ares was finally born, we proceeded with the plan and everything went exactly as Dr. Feldman explained. Although we always knew Ares would probably need an additional surgery when he got older, we know Dr. Feldman was always in our corner.
Now, fast forward to Fall 2020, Ares is now 22-years-old and preparing to have yet another surgery, this time to address his bow-leggedness, Genu Varum. For years, after multiple surgeries, his legs have curved considerably, causing him to walk on the outer edges of his feet and heels, where he has to deal with considerable pain because of the lack of flexibility in his ankles. He’s unable to walk long distances because it causes him pain in his ankles, knees and hips. This misalignment in his legs impairs his range of motion, balance and flexibility, which reduces his quality of life.
We finally decided it was time to see Dr. Feldman again to schedule Ares for the additional surgery predetermined by a previous visit. Unfortunately, who knew this year’s meeting would be done virtually!
As Dr. Feldman was now permanently fixed at the Paley Institute in West Palm Beach, Fla. and we are still living in New York, we connected though a Zoom call to review Ares’ case. Dr. Feldman offered to refer us to another highly skilled orthopedic surgeon here in New York, which we appreciated, but didn’t want. You see, when you meet someone, especially a doctor who has made such an impact in your son’s life, you hold on to them for dear life. And, Ares was very clear about Dr. Feldman, his extraordinary talent and patience, and that he’d follow him to the ends of the earth - or in this case to West Palm Beach!
The staff at the Paley Institute, including Dr. Feldman, have always gone beyond what’s expected to make the entire scheduling and planning process seamless, from start to finish. From scheduling x-rays to coordinating virtual conference calls with Dr. Feldman and his team to discussing surgical options and treatment. The team also helped us take care of lodging for our time in West Palm Beach.
We arrived in West Palm Beach on January 3, 2021 and headed straight to the Paley Institute to complete the required pre-op testing for Ares’ bilateral high tibial osteotomy with allograft surgery on January 5 th . No surprise, we ended up staying in Florida until January 21 st because of the pandemic, and to complete Ares’ physical therapy. Yes, even in the middle of a global pandemic, we felt safe and secure enough with Dr. Feldman and his team that every step would be taken to make sure Ares’ surgery would be successful.
As expected, Ares’ surgery went well and he had minimal pain, and he only had to spend two nights in the hospital. Ares’ physical therapists, Tatiana and Donald, were absolutely amazing - they worked with him during and through his recovery - it was wonderful to see the progress he was making each and every day. When the 21 st finally arrived, we had our final set of x-rays taken and a follow up with Dr. Feldman so he can clear Ares to fly back home to New York. All I remember was the huge smile across Dr. Feldman’s face and how amazed he was at how perfect everything came out, he just couldn’t believe how damn perfect it was - down to the millimeter. I remember him saying I want more people to know that they don’t have to live with this type of deformity, that it can be fixed.
Ares is so happy he’s counting the days until his next set of x-rays, so he can finally ditch his walker. Starting March 1, he can finally walk without any supporting devices. Yay! He’s also looking forward to his follow up Zoom call with Dr. Feldman to discuss his progress. Pretty soon, he’ll be back to normal, biking and running everywhere. Looking at Ares today, you would never know he was born with such a severe deformity, and thanks to Dr. Feldman, Ares was never limited in what he could physically do when he was a child. He played soccer, gymnastics, swimming, rowing and even ran track thanks to Dr. Feldman. I can’t thank him enough or say enough wonderful things about Dr. Feldman. His passion shows and you can see it with his patients – how happy they are and that they hold him in such high regard. We are forever thankful and grateful.