Yesterday was the third birthday of our son James, whose stubborn refusal to appear for 20 hours on March 31st 2001 makes him an April Fool. When Nongyow was pregnant, we’d been warned that he might have some genetic problems, and when he finally decided to make his entrance to the world, he was blessed with my rakish good looks and an interesting blood disorder called G6PD
(or favism) that makes him unable to metabolise aspirin, quinine (so no gin and tonic) or anti-malarial drugs, but gives him resistance to Malaria. More problematically, he was born with bilateral equine talipes – or, in less-PC language, two club feet, and looked very much like the kids on the preceding link.
Anyhow, fortunately, a brilliant physiotherapist named Alison Keeling-Smith was up on the first day to look at him, and soon had him fitted with footplates and a Heath-Robinson style system of bandages and strapping designed to encourage his feet to grow properly. Twice a week I took him to Alison for physio, having the straps changed, footplates remade – and on one occasion he had his right foot in a plaster which slid off 2 hours after we got him home when he attempted to kick a football.
After 18 months, Alison had got his left foot perfect, and his right foot almost there, but not quite, so they decided to operate. Bear in mind that a couple
of decades earlier, my mate Millsy had had his ankles broken twice by the same age to deal with his talipes. Although it was a risk-free 10 minute op, there’s few things as harrowing as holding your child down while he’s injected with a general anesthetic. The rapidity with which they fall silent and immobile is terrifying. But the op was a success – though he was somewhat pissed off at having to crawl round the house rather than walk, and now he’s fine, just requiring special boots until it’s time to start school. Here he is, running at his playgroup.
So, as I raise a glass of gin and tonic (which will remain forever untested by James) to the genius of Alison and to say, Happy Birthday son.
(Last Updated on )
Buy "Calling For The Moon", my debut album of songs I wrote while living in Thailand, India, Turkey. (Only £2, on Bandcamp.)