Quick VT note: TLC for Stella’s transitioning toes.

Stella’s toes are starting to relax. The yoked prism goggles continue to benefit her, but it’s created a small, surprising side effect. Turns out, her toes have been clenched so consistently for so long that the skin is actually having to stretch out as her toes extend outward. There are now raw, sometimes bloody cracks on the bottom of her toes in the incredibly deep creases that formed where her toes folded and curled over. Her right foot is more affected and cracked. I’ve actually noticed that when walking, her right foot is more consistently flat than her left, which has just a slight bit more reliance on her toes still, though both feet have clearly improved. Stella’s brain is figuring it all out, and it’s fascinating to watch. Well, almost as fascinating as watching her attempt to unwrap and quickly devour a foil-wrapped chocolate chick this morning. Only Kevin Garnett of my beloved Celtics can match that level of intensity.

I’m making sure antibiotic ointment is liberally applied and socks are worn when she is up and about. With those two pieces in place, she’s fine. Otherwise, it’s painful and she limps over to tell me her feet hurt. I apply a thick layer of “booboo cream,” usually tickling her in the process. Then all is well.

Those little piggies have been tasked with gripping the ground tightly in an effort to keep Stella up high. As previously explained, she was positioning her body in a way that made sense for her visual field. The goggles are helping re-wire her brain and create a more accurate map of her environment and her relation to it, spatially. Ten tiny toes have carried much of her weight for most of her walking life! Through vision therapy, her toe-walking is dissipating. When she runs I hear her feet slap the sidewalk. It makes me smile. I’m thinking about making it my ringtone.

And hooray! We currently have a pair of the goggles checked out for use at home, and she’s doing very well as she ramps up to wearing them in the base-down position for 20-30 minutes a day, minimum. She doesn’t mind them so much but still prefers close-up activities for now. Like unwrapping rare bits of candy or making play-dough Easter cookies.

For now, I await the healing of those little wounds as Stella’s toes delegate responsibilities to the rest of her foot. I’m constantly noting positive changes in Stella, including a heightened awareness of her periphery, which I’ll talk about here soon. But most of all, I relish the small but big changes that unfold as her vision therapy enters what looks to be its final phase.

Happy Easter, everyone! I wish you jelly beans in only your favorite flavors, and happy relaxation from head to toe.


  1. Kate · April 23, 2011

    Thank you so much for writing your blog! It is well written, entertaining and educational. I really appreciate that you are brave enough to share this information – which is very helpful to read about. My son has a delay (no toe-walking, but we are, based on your enthusiasm about the providers at your clinic, going to have his vision checked at the same) and even slightly related things to read about are so very encouraging. He has, it seems, a difficult time with spacial reasoning, and I don’t think I would have known about what to ask for without reading what you had written. It is also fun to hear about the hijinks of your daughter and squirrels 🙂 Thanks!!

    • amberhj · April 26, 2011

      You made my day, Kate! Thank you for such kind words and thank you for reading! Hmm, sounds like a vision check is a GREAT idea. I hope his vision is fine, but if they do catch something, take heart and know that it could lead to helpful solutions for him! I’m thrilled to hear that you’re going to Alderwood! It’s an incredible place.

  2. Lynda · April 24, 2011

    Hooray! So happy Stella gets to work with the goggles at home, and is developing normal toes and not the curled up versions I have. Who would have made that connection decades ago? And yet it’s obvious vision and walking are linked.
    Thanks so much for blogging about it. I know it will help others to make these and other connections for their own kids.

    • amberhj · April 26, 2011

      Lynda, you’re inspiring us so THANK YOU! I’m happy to report that Stella wore the prism goggles for more than 30 minutes yesterday, while painting with watercolors. Thought you’d appreciate that on several levels, my artist friend!

  3. olga · April 24, 2011

    wow. poor little piggies — glad they are healing. and yes, i also wonder: how often is the link missed? you know there are so many posts out there “my toddler walks like a ballerina”, yet how many get the vision check??? thanks for writing and for spreading the awareness; it’s the only way to progress!

    • amberhj · April 26, 2011

      The connection is crazy, ay? I’ll admit I’m so uplifted when I see someone found this blog by searching for something like “leg casts for child’s toe-walking”–if some kid can perhaps avoid casts (or at least rule out a vision issue) it’s all worthwhile. Can you imagine putting immobilizing casts on Zander!? I’m sure it’s warranted sometimes but you know that somewhere out there, a vision issue is never even considered.

      And hey, if anyone knows about spreading awareness, it’s you! Honestly, you have helped fuel my desire to use our knowledge and experiences to perhaps help others. You’ve done incredibly powerful things for tube-fed children already, and you’re just getting started. Amazing.

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