As you already know from Brennen’s Medical Journey: Toe Walking, Brennen’s 3-year check-up resulted in a referral to a pediatric neurologist to further investigate his toe walking. After waiting 2 months for the appointment, the day finally arrived at the beginning of April. I approached the appointment with a lot of apprehension as I did not know what to expect. When we signed in at the front desk, I was handed a stack of papers to fill out. Some of them were the standard medical questionnaires that you get whenever you go to a new doctor, but others asked in-depth questions about my pregnancy, Brennen’s birth, Brennen’s milestones and our family medical history. I panicked a little trying to fill out the medical history. Many of the diseases I checked “no family history” because I was not aware of anyone having the diseases but at the same time I didn’t know for sure. I was also having difficulties filling out Brennen’s milestones. I couldn’t remember them all. The only ones that stood out in my mind were the ones he didn’t achieve “on time.” For example, he never crawled, instead he scooted on his butt. He was also a late walker, at around 16 months. But I did the best I could and I chided myself for feeling like a bad mom because I couldn’t remember them all.
We waited for over an hour before we were finally called back. At that point, Brennen had already reached the end of his patience and I had run out of things to entertain him with. Initially, I spoke with the neurologists’ assistant. He pretty much just reviewed the paperwork and asked pertinent follow-up questions. He also examined Brennen. He mostly concentrated on Brennen’s legs, in regards to reflexes and range of motion. After the exam THE neurologist came in and I sat in the room while he conferred with his assistant about our conversation and Brennen’s exam. It was a weird fly-on-the-wall kind of feeling. The neurologist performed his own exam and then had Brennen walk in the hallway so they could see his toe walking firsthand. He ended our visit by summarizing his findings and putting forth his recommendations. He said upon examining Brennen, he felt Brennen’s reflexes were too reactive and that his muscles seemed tight. (I attribute the “tightness” to Brennen not wanting the doctor to touch him.) He also mentioned that many neurological disorders also involve speech delays, which he knew Brennen was in the process of being evaluated for. He said he was hesitant to rule Brennen’s toe walking as idiopathic, which basically means without a known cause, because as far as I knew, there was no family history of toe walking. Therefore, not wanting to let Brennen’s case “slip under the radar,” he recommended that Brennen get a back x-ray to rule out scoliosis, a brain MRI to rule out cerebral palsy and attend physical therapy.
Again, I felt stunned! I remember talking and nodding, but I wasn’t really there. I remember going through the motions of collecting the necessary paperwork for the tests and gathering our things to go home. I just could not believe that all of this grew out of Brennen being a toe walker. It’s not like he exclusively toe walks, he can walk flat-footed. My mind was also stuck on the MRI and the thought of taking Brennen to the hospital to be “put to sleep.” I just couldn’t fathom doing it. I remember calling the hubby on our way home, talking to him as tears streamed down my face. The hubby’s first response was anger. Anger at why this was happening and why the doctors were making such a big deal of it. We both yearned for this chapter in our life to be behind us.