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UPDATE | Mr Eli has Talipes and Benign Paroxysmal Torticollis.

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Last week wasn’t a very nice week, at all.

Mr Eli has been suffering with his Torticollis more frequently since I wrote my epicly long blog post, Mumsnet: This Is My Child | Mr Eli has Talipes and Benign Paroxysmal Torticollis. We haven’t had any attacks with the accompanying sickness and drowsiness since Eli’s 1st birthday; it has been just his head tilting to his shoulder. He’s been teething quite badly (well, he’s been teething constantly since he was 8 weeks old…). His Torticollis tends to flare up more when he’s teething – or when he reaches milestones. We were so hoping he’d started to outgrow the attacks.

His neck had been tilting to the left side since 24th October – coincidentally, OH’s birthday. It finally straightened up, to a perfect mid-line by Friday 1st November, 8 days later. Then on Tuesday 5th November Eli’s head started to gradually tilt towards the right. He had been unaffected for just 3 days. By the evening of Wednesday 6th November, poor Eli looked horrendously uncomfortable and was very clingy. We had a physio appointment at the local hospital at 11am on Thursday 7th November. This would be the first time our physio had seen him so badly affected with the Torticollis.

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Eating an apple after breakfast on Wednesday 6th November.

On Thursday 7th November, Eli woke up crying. He never wakes up crying… apart from when he’s been severely affected with his Torticollis, and we’re due an attack.

I struggled to get Eli into his high chair, he was so off balanced and crying in discomfort. He barely ate any breakfast. His head was completely touching his shoulder.

I got us both ready for the hospital appointment; we walked the 25 minute journey and Eli was fast asleep as soon as he went into his pram. He NEVER sleeps in his pram when we’re out and about now. He’s too nosey.

When we got to the hospital he started to wake up with the lights and noises. As he gradually came round, I noticed his eyes weren’t quite right. They looked misaligned. I pulled him out of his pram for a cuddle and closer look. And as I did so, he projectile vomited. EVERYWHERE. He was having the first full blown Torticollis attack in 3 months. His eyes rolled back and he passed out into my arms. There were such lovely people in the waiting room, rallying round with tissues and water for us both! It’s so scary and upsetting when it happens. This is the first time it’s happened outside of our house too.

I then went into the physio room. Our physio was in a state of shock I think – she’s always seen him when he’s been unaffected and his usual jolly self. She admitted she never realised the extent of the attacks and began noting down everything that had happened, so she could write to the big hospital in Chelmsford for a referral to a specialist.

We know that there is no treatment or cure for Torticollis. It is something that Eli must grow out of, and should grow out of by the time he is 3. But I would still like him to be seen by a specialist.

He was sick a further 3 times in the physio room. The physio took a video of how the Torticollis was affecting him during his attacks; so we can use it as reference for any further appointments, where hopefully Eli will not be affected. OH and I watched this back on Thursday night together and it was very, very distressing to watch back.

Eli continued to be sick all of the day on Thursday – something that doesn’t usually happen. Eli had changed through 6 tops, 2 pairs of trousers and I used 12 muslins and 4 tea towels to clean things up. It was too chilly to not have his clothes on. I kept him nil by mouth… aside from syringing water into his mouth as he just couldn’t drink from anything else. He slept on me in-between the sickness. As he snored in my arms, I sobbed. I don’t think there’s anything that quite prepares you for feeling so helpless as a parent – not being able to make Eli better is just the WORST feeling in the entire world. For his last nap that day, I put him into his pram – where he slept for 90s mins.

When Eli woke up, he was chatting away. I pulled him up and out of his pram for a cuddle. He wanted to be down and straight away grabbed his beaker! He was almost back to his usual jolly self again – aside from his head was still tilting to the right, just not as severely; but it was a huge improvement on how it had been when he woke up that morning. It was almost as though the earlier part of the day hadn’t happened.

He ate toast, a banana and some biscuits for his tea that evening, along with 2 beakers of water. He went to bed normally with his bottle of milk.

He was clingy on Friday 8th November and looked very uncomfortable still. His balance was still affected by the Torticollis so he was very clumsy and couldn’t sit upright on the floor or in his highchair, choosing to slant to the affected side.

Fast forward a few days to today. Eli is much better now, sitting comfortably and back to his usual routine. His head is more or less perfectly straight in the mid-line again. After previous attacks, his head has straightened back during the course of the day. So this has been a lengthy process, this time.

Eli has an appointment to review his Talipes at the end of this month – which we’re so looking forward to as his feet are remarkable now. His referral regarding his Torticollis will be at the beginning of December, at the same hospital.

If you or your child has been affected by Torticollis, or indeed Talipes, please do get in touch. I’d really like to hear your experiences with both – Torticollis a rare condition and there is not a lot of information out there.

MM.

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CUSTOMER SERVICE | Kiddicare, Lakeside.

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I just HAD to write a blog post on the customer service we received on a recent trip to Kiddicare, Lakeside.

So let’s start at the beginning…

We decided that we REALLY, REALLY needed to get Eli is new car seat after massively outgrowing his old one a little while ago. The weather was pretty bleak on our journey to Kiddicare, so when we arrived and were greeted with (Starbucks) hot chocolate at the door, it was more than welcome! Such a nice touch.

We headed straight over the to vast car seat section of the superstore. A friend of ours had recommended the Maxi Cosi, Axiss car seat – but it had been priced at £225 previously on Amazon, so we had disregarded that one.

As fans of Maxi Cosi however, we started looking at cheaper models. We found a great one for £120… but it didn’t swivel. After struggling with our old car seat and pulling our necks/backs trying to get Eli into the damn thing without banging his head in the process, I wanted one that swivelled! So we looked at the Maxi Cosi Axiss anyway – it was priced at £160 in Kiddicare. Quite a saving! We checked out how much it would be on Amazon, and couldn’t believe the price had dropped to £113!!! Even better. We couldn’t believe it. We went to the Car Seat fitting desk to ask some questions about this model. They told us that this particular car seat only fits 20% of cars; and they test each car seat fits your car, for you. We thought this was a great service.

I mentioned the price difference… and then noticed that they had signs around the store that said “Price Match Guarantee”. I, cheekily, thought I’d ask the lady at the front desk if they would indeed price match with the Amazon price. She was so lovely and said that yes, indeed they would! As long as the item on Amazon was sold by Amazon, and not a private seller. We ACTUALLY couldn’t believe it.

So then we had the car seat fitted into our car – it was pouring down at this point and the two lovely assistants had smiles on their faces and nothing but positivity about them. The car seat fitted like a glove! Again, we couldn’t believe it.  Out of 20% of cars! PERFECT – LET’S BUY IT! We got to the car seat desk again to have our receipt for collection printed out. The car seat we’d ordered was the LAST ONE IN STOCK. Unbelievable.

So with that, we dashed to the till to pay. The lady at the till, again, was so lovely and polite. It makes such a difference to have a smile and a ‘hello’, doesn’t it? Another assistant sorted out the price match while some other items were put through the till for us. They then said, “So the car seat will be £99 today, is that ok?”. EXCUSE ME WHAT? WHO THE WHAT NOW?

This is where it gets RIDICULOUS. When Kiddicare do a price match, not only do they match that price – but they then extend the discount to a further 25%. How amazing is that? The car seat that we really wanted, that was £225 RRP was just sold to us for more than half the price! We felt like we’d committed a crime as we walked out the doors, with the same lovely assistant who had tested the car seat.

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She again fitted the car seat for us, for the drive home. She showed us how everything worked. All this in the pouring rain! Then she took the card board box away to recycle for us. So polite and patient, she didn’t rush or cut any corners. Just simple good manners and being good at her job. She strived to go the extra mile to make sure we were comfortable and confident with the car seat. You REALLY don’t get service like we received anywhere (apart from maybe John Lewis), and that’s such a great shame.

We can’t thank Kiddicare Lakeside, enough for their help that day – or the huge saving! It meant that we could have our first date night in a very long time 🙂 So there you go, always head to your local Kiddicare store or shop online at Kiddicare.com and get a price match where you can. We’re certainly customers for LIFE.

MM.

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Mumsnet: This Is My Child | Mr Eli has Talipes and Benign Paroxysmal Torticollis.

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I have been looking, with interest, at some of the posts that have been published during the This Is My Child awareness campaign via Mumsnet. We live our life day-to-day as normal. Because THIS is our ‘normal’. Eli is our first born and we know no different. But I suppose, our story is different. I’ve not really highlighted Eli’s Talipes or (recently diagnosed) Benign Paroxysmal Torticollis on my blog before. I have mentioned in a few posts about his Talipes. But nothing in depth. So here it goes!

Everything stems back to when I was pregnant. I had a very tough first few weeks, after a bleed we were told that the pregnancy might not be viable at a 5 week early-pregnancy scan and told to return in 3 weeks time; where we saw the most amazing and incredibly tiny flickering – a heartbeat! PHEW!

We so looked forward to that 12 week scan. The sonographer was lovely, but seemed concerned. Eli was jumping ALL OVER, I thought she was just having difficulty measuring up dates because he wouldn’t keep still. She then turned the machines off and said she was sorry to tell us that our bundle of joy had a “nuchal fold measurement on the cusp of high”. The exact measurement was 3.5 mm. This was indeed the cusp before they offer you further investigation. We needed to know. We were informed that a high NT measurement could mean a multitude of conditions, including Down Syndrome. This was heartbreaking. This baby was so wanted – we needed to know what we were facing. We had ‘counselling’ and I had bloods taken. The nurse then called University College Hospital London and told us they had a referral for the the very next day. We were told we could have a more in-depth scan at the Fetal Medicine Unit; where we would also be offered the option of CVS – which would indeed confirm any anomalies, through a horrendously invasive procedure. After the lengthy scan with several specialists, we were advised that we could either go ahead with CVS there and then, or wait… It had been picked up that there was a lack of nasal bone; another marker for Down Syndrome. Our world shattered. HOW WOULD WE COPE?! We went ahead with the CVS there and then. It was like a whirlwind.

The procedure was horrible. Just horrible. I had soreness and tenderness for a few days after. Not to mention the constant worry and stress of the risk of miscarriage. It was a very very hard time for both of us, waiting for the results. 3 weeks passed and we received a letter confirming that everything was spot on with Eli. He didn’t have any of the common anomalies that CVS tests for.  We were over the moon to say the very least. PHEW!

But this was not the end of our hospital visits. To cut the (very!) long story short – we had a total of 9 scans. Because of the NT measurement, Eli’s heart, organs and growth was routinely monitored. He developed fantastically. At the 25 week scan, it was found our baby had a degree of Bilateral Talipes.  But it was “extremely mild”. PHEW! It was corrective. We were happy. In the grand scheme of things.

Fast forward to almost 42 weeks pregnant, I was just a HUGE pregnant ball; unable to move, pretty much. That little boy was so so squashed up inside my petite 5 ft nothing 1″ frame. I was eventually induced. Which, shock horror was just the WORST thing ever. (Incidentally, I would never recommend an induction. Just bloody wait till the baby wants to arrive!). After 30 hours of labour, Eli was pulled out of me in an emergency situation using Ventouse. He was out, safe, at long last. PHEW.

Or so we thought.

We both immediately looked at his feets. Yes, they turned in, but probably weren’t half as badly affected as we were imagining.

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Again, fast forward to 8 weeks old. We’d not been seen by a specialist. Not even had a referral. At Eli’s 8 week check the GP who was head of the surgery, told me that his feet would ‘correct themselves when he learns to walk’. I wasn’t happy with that. We’d been massaging, manipulating and exercising Eli’s feets since birth, but at about 8-10 weeks had hit that brick wall. They weren’t getting any better. With the encouragement from @BexandMic on Twitter, who’s beautiful son Hugo was also born with Talipes, I kicked off at the Health Visitor. I got a referral to see a Physio about his feet. At the very first appointment our lovely Physio, Jenny, pointed out that Eli’s head was tilted to the left. I couldn’t understand what she was referring to, he just couldn’t hold his head up yet… She explained it looked like he had something called Torticollis. Possibly from being so squashed up during pregnancy, possibly from the trauma of being pulled out so quickly. I was given exercises to do with his neck regularly, after a week, his head was straight! I still to this day can’t believe we didn’t notice it. Looking back at photos, his neck is completely to his shoulder on every single one. There was still tightness after a few sessions with the Physio and more manipulation on our part. We eventually saw our consultant, Mr Tuite at Broomfield Hospital on 31st October. Eli was almost 14 weeks old. Worryingly, most children with Talipes begin their treatment shortly after birth.

We were devastated when Mr Tuite said that Eli would in fact require plaster casts to begin the correction process. Mr Eli was pretty mobile at 14 weeks old! He was used to his bedtime routine and his bath. We knew the casts were for the best though. We had to do it. We were told Eli had really mild Talipes, again, so would require 2 weeks worth of casts…

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6 weeks later Eli was still in casts. It was incredibly tough.

Being the age Eli was, we got a lot of stares. You could just tell people must have thought he’d been dropped and had broken legs. When people asked what had happened, they didn’t understand. They made me feel like the story I was telling was a pack of lies. It was just a horrendous feeling. We did however have luck on our side, in the fact that it was Winter when Eli was in casts. It wasn’t hot, he would have been so much more uncomfortable if it was! He spent a lot of time in long socks and snow suits! In hindsight, I wish I’d been more confident with his casts. Embraced them more. Decorated them, even. The casts did not hinder Eli in any way, he was rolling over in them and they were SO heavy and awkward. He kicked his legs up and down and bashed the casts to bits! He was so brave – he didn’t sleep at night, but hey, he doesn’t now either!

The Torticollis would occur when Eli seemed to meet new milestones. It wasn’t constant. It was irregular. His neck tilted for around a week when he started rolling, sitting up and crawling. But also seemed to coincide with teething too. We continued to repeat the exercises and manipulations.

Mid-December 2012 and Eli went into Ponseti Boots and Bars 23 hours a day. He got an hour “free” where we gave him his bath and he had a kick about afterwards. This was a huge relief. We could get back to normality somewhat. We hadn’t even thought about the visual  impact the Boots and Bar contraption would have on other people. After our journey, we had just accepted what we had to go through.

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In the coming weeks, I had an array of comments and conversations about his B & B’s.

“They’re funky boots” “Thanks! They’re to straighten his feet” “ohh… I thought they were just fashion accessories! I’m so sorry. Didn’t realise your son was ill”. “He’s not ill?”

“Does he have broken legs?”

“Does he have broken hips?”

“Is that a contraption to stop him wriggling away from you?”

“Do they make him taller?” “WHAT?!”

 Etc. Etc. Etc.

We had a lot of nasty glances. A lot of nasty sniggers. I’m REALLY not thick-skinned at all. Like I say, I’d completely accepted that this was his treatment. It did not bother me. This was normal to us now – this was part of our every day lives! Until someone pointed his feet out, or made that eye contact, that’s when I’d think. Then it would upset me. But, I needed to get through that for him. It was in his very best interests. He wouldn’t be able to walk without it! Had we just been too blasé about the entire thing?!

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Eli wore his B & B’s for 23 hours a day, for 6 months. Most children wear them for 23 hours a day for just 3 months, then hours are dropped throughout the day until they eventually just wear them at night time. To our surprise, Eli went straight down to just nights at our next review. This was just insanely cool. It was just magical seeing him so free. His feet look PERFECT! We’re so so pleased. We’re also convinced though, that Eli struggles at night time because of his boots and bar. He’s free all day long, then come bedtime he’s confined. He can’t move with ease. It’s uncomfortable and heavy. He will sleep for 2-4 hours at a time. Then I will need to settle him. There has been nights where I have taken his bar or both his boots and bar off, and he’s slept soundly. I’m sacrificing my sleep so he can walk. Easy decision. I do worry it’s not good for him, the broken sleep. But what can I do?!

At 10 months, he started pulling himself up and cruising around his play pen. I can’t tell you how proud we both were. It was just so special; still is! SUPER PROUD PARENTS!

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Not long after Eli started standing up, there was an afternoon where Eli was particularly miserable. Anyone who knows Eli knows he is a jolly boy. Barely cries. He’s only ever grumpy in the night! He was super grizzly. I put it down to teething. Then he projectile vomited. His neck was tilted. He went floppy in my arms, the colour drained from usual his rosy cheeks, his eyes rolled back and he seemed to pass out. I was beside myself. Naturally. I rang my OH who calmed me down. I’ve never been so frightened, it was seriously scary. This had happened previously, but I wasn’t there. Another bout of sickness and drowsiness and I let Eli sleep. We then recalled another time when he projectile vomited (he was never a sicky baby so could recall these occasions clearly). Within in a few hours, his neck was back to its mid-line straight position. Without any manipulation. We worked out that they all coincided with his neck tilting. Could the Torticollis be causing this?

I took Eli to the doctors – who were, USELESS. He googled Torticollis and told me what Wikipedia says… He said he’d seen just one other case of this and to go back to the Physio if I was concerned. Hell yeah I was concerned. We didn’t know if it was underlining with something else. I went to Portugal for 4 days. Eli had another bout of the sickness and drowsiness with the Torticollis. Again, his neck had straightened up itself by the next morning. It was all definitely linked.

I went to the Physio again after my trip. She was lovely, she explained that the condition was Benign Paroxysmal Torticollis. This variation of Torticollis comes in waves, or ‘attacks’. The attacks can last anywhere from minutes, to hours, to days and is accompanied by vomiting, pallorataxia, agitation, infantile migraine, unsteadiness of gait upon learning to walk, general malaise and nystagmus. All sounded about right. The periods in which the child’s head is tilted and other symptoms appear can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few days, with a frequency of anywhere from two per year to two per month. Looking back at the frequency of the attacks, we’ve found they seem to happen at the beginning of the month – every month, so far. It seems to surround teething, more than milestones now.

So now we know.

But what to do about it. Well, we’ve been told my several doctors and the physio (as well as Google) that Benign Paroxysmal Torticollis is something that Eli will grow out of, probably by school age.

His most recent attack was on 6th August, his 1st birthday. His neck didn’t straighten up quickly this time though, it’s taken a good 10 days this time.

The additional care that Eli requires surrounds his Talipes and his Benign Paroxysmal Torticollis. We don’t know when he’ll be out of his boots and bar, could be at his next appointment (28th August), could be when he’s 3 or 4 or 5. We also worry about relapse; there’s also cases where the feet have been over-corrected so they point outwards. We also do not know when he will have another attack of Benign Paroxysmal Torticollis, or the severity. I have to carry dozens of muslins with me, just incase he projectile vomits. I often worry it’s just going to come out of nowhere. I also worry about when he goes to nursery – are there people who are going to be able to look after him if he has an attack? Luckily, at the minute, I can work from home. But he will need to go into nursery sooner rather than later, for him to be able to socialise with children his age, more than anything else.

We currently do not receive any help, support or funding. I do know of people who have been granted Disability Living Allowance for their children with Talipes.

I’d absolutely LOVE to hear from others who have experiences with Talipes or Benign Paroxysmal Torticollis. The latter being quite rare, so not heard or seen anyone else who has had a child with BPT.

Would we have had it any other way? Ideally, I’d love to have Eli without all the discomfort and challenges he’s faced – of course I would. But my goodness me, he’s a brave boy. He’s SUCH a character. And frankly, it’s made me and my OH better people. We’re stronger. We understand.

Worry, worry worry – isn’t that what all parents do?

MM.

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Mr Eli has Talipes…What happened next?

Just hours after Eli was born, 6th August 2012.

It’s just dawned on me that I have failed to write about Eli’s Talipes! I did blog about it when I was pregnant as it was found when I was having additional scans at UCLH, you can see the original post here: Hospital Update: Baby Boy bump has (mild) Bilateral Talipes. And I mentioned it in the 4 week update I did, here: An Eli Update: 4 Weeks Young. But I haven’t updated my blog with the developments since…

So from the top, it was found during an additional scan at UCLH that ‘baby boy bump’ had mild Bilateral Talipes. As the weeks progressed and I got bigger,  it meant that ‘baby boy bump’ got more and more squashed up inside me. This was the cause for Eli’s Talipes; it’s “positional” due to him literally being too big for me!

As you can see, from the first picture above (taken just a few hours after Eli was born), the Talipes looks really mild. But it turns out Eli was quite lethargic after my traumatic labour and birth. It wasn’t until he was home that we noticed how much he pulled his feet inwards (picture below).

This photo looks distorted, must have been a strange angle! Eli is 4 days old.

We were seen by a Paediatrician just before we left Broomfield Hospital and we were told that Eli would need his hips X-rayed and of course, Physio. I was told to expect both appointments within a few weeks.

After 3 weeks, I spoke to my Health Visitor who advised to wait one more week and then chase. I chased and chased and chased. I was pushed from pillar to post between departments. I couldn’t believe how badly organised everything was. (Hence why I haven’t actually written about this until now!). It was an absolute shambles. I finally received an appointment for Eli to have his hips scanned when he was 7 weeks old. During the scan I was told his hips were absolutely fine! (PHEW!) And again, that his feet were an isolated case due to him being so crammed in (Sorry boy).

I was STILL yet to receive an appointment for his Physio at this point. But as we have common sense, from birth, we had been massaging Eli’s feet ourselves with exercises we found on the internetz.

8 weeks old, after his first set of immunisations.

-You can see Eli’s left foot is much straight, but his right is still pulling inwards.

We saw a marked improvement with this – until about 9 weeks, when it just seemed to not get any better. It felt like we’d hit a brick wall. I finally had my appointment with the Physio when Eli turned 10 weeks. I’d like to point out at this is appalling. It took 10 weeks to finally see someone and the Physiotherapist, although absolutely lovely, gave me the exact same exercises to do. She said that it’s the muscles and tendons on the insides of both feet that are tight; causing Eli to pull his feet inwards. She suggested that Eli might need plaster casts, and in her opinion, it would only be for a week. I already had another appointment organised with a leading Talipes Consultant at Broomfield for when Eli was 12 weeks old. Again, this is terrible – we should have had Eli seen by a Consultant WAY BEFORE he got to 3 months old. I’m extremely unhappy about how long it’s taken and the awful communication, or lack thereof, between departments.

10 weeks old feets 🙂 

Last week we finally saw the Consultant at Broomfield. He looked at Eli’s legs, hips, spine, neck and feet. Which we didn’t expect, but was really reassuring. He agreed that Eli has Positional Talipes and has advised a course of plaster cast treatments. The casts will go from his foot and up his thigh – to avoid him kicking the pot off! When the Consultant left I spoke with the Senior Nurse (who organised our first appointment for THIS week). The Nurse advised that Eli will wear the casts for up to a fortnight at a time and will then need to wear special boots inbetween plaster cast treatment, the Consultant did not mention this, so I’ll see on Wednesday of this week what the definite course of treatment will actually entail. This sounds like Eli would be undergoing the Ponseti Method, but like I say, we’ll find out this week.

I am SO SO pleased that our beautiful baby boy is finally getting his little feets sorted out. Better late than never I suppose.

I’d like to hear from you. Has your little one undergone treatment for Talipes? What was your experience? Can you offer any advice or tips?

MM.