The Strange Case of the Uneven Legs

The Strange Case of the Uneven Legs

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This is a story of how I fuss while waiting on God’s answers, yet in His goodness, He helps. It is the story of my daughter Emily’s uneven legs.

On Saturday, June 27, 2015, our 12-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn, informed us that her sister’s left leg was an inch longer than her right. Of course, the first thing we did was verify this.

When presented with a problem, I often fly into research mode. I took out every medical-type book I had and tried to find something that would explain this. My Facebook friends assured me that Emily probably needed a chiropractic adjustment.

Still, I worried.

On Monday, I made an appointment for her to see a doctor at a clinic. She recommended making an appointment with a pediatric orthopedic doctor at a children’s hospital. She said she’d get the referral process started.

Meanwhile I e-mailed my sister to ask about a niece who had one leg longer than the other when she was younger and had required surgery. I got the name of her doctor and waited to hear from the clinic. I was frustrated at this slow process to make an appointment since I already had a name of a pediatric orthopedic doctor accepted by my insurance. For some reason I had to endure the middleman process.

Finally, I received e-mails and calls from the referral people asking me questions. Yes, I definitely wanted a doctor approved by my insurance. What kind of question is that? A few weeks later, I received an e-mail with the names of three recommended doctors. My niece’s doctor was on the list so I called the clinic to say which doctor I wanted. This all seemed like a waste of time to me. I didn’t understand why I had to wait and do it this way.

While I was away, the children’s hospital called to make the appointment, so my husband took an appointment at the end of July. I wasn’t very patient about the entire thing. I demanded to know why he hadn’t taken an earlier appointment. It had conflicted with his work. Of course, he wanted to go with.

Time crawled. I wanted answers. Emily wasn’t able to run and play like she had been doing just a few weeks before. We had gone to a water park two days before Kaitlyn’s discovery so I thought perhaps she had been injured there. I searched water park injuries on the internet. All sorts of scary stories came up. I remembered after going to the water park how she had complained her leg hurt, but she hadn’t fallen. I couldn’t see anything wrong so I had suggested she rest. What had I missed? How could she be fine one day and not the next?

I wanted her fixed. Now. My husband said I could try the chiropractor, but he really thought I was wasting my time and our money. It was a Friday, and the chiropractor saw us immediately. He said her left leg was two inches longer than her right. In the end, though, he said that he was concerned and wanted x-rays. He thought that by the time we got home she might be right back to where she was when he started. He was right. His concerns about it being something serious increased my worry. I tried to hide my fears from Emily, but she had her own questions I couldn’t answer.

The following Monday, I made an appointment with her pediatrician whom we hadn’t seen for several of our last visits because of schedule conflicts. She had suffered strange bouts of a flu-like illness often in the last year that had lasted over a week each time, once nearly hospitalizing her due to dehydration. Were these incidents related? Since he had seen Emily since she was born, he knew she hadn’t had any discrepancies in length before this. He measured. He thought. He was stumped. He ordered the x-rays. After the x-rays were seen, he ordered a CAT scan. He wanted us to see an orthopedic doctor on staff, but one wasn’t available that day. He said he was glad that we already had an appointment at the children’s hospital. I cried out to God, but my fears intensified. I asked for a CD to take to the children’s hospital, hoping to avoid repeated tests.

Why would Emily’s legs suddenly be different lengths? Why didn’t our doctors know what was wrong? Would she need surgery?

I asked people to pray. Our pastor prayed over Emily at church. I prayed but had no answers. I became angry. Why was this happening to us?

The day of the appointment at the children’s hospital arrived, and we met with the pediatric orthopedic doctor. He looked at the x-rays and CAT scan from our home clinic, then proceeded to have more x-rays taken. We sat in the hall and waited. I was upset with myself because here we were having more tests and still no answers.

Emily needed an MRI with dye. Someone would be calling us. During the hour drive home, I went over and over everything. Did she hurt herself? How? When? I couldn’t remember her falling or anything. I was sure it had something to do with the water park. I wished we had never gone to that water park. I felt it had ruined our summer. Emily had been fine. Now she wasn’t. Oh, God, what was going on? Where was our peace?

By the time we got home, the hospital had already called so I was back on the phone setting up appointments. We decided not to sedate Emily. The day of the MRI arrived. The nurses and doctors at the children’s hospital were wonderful. They kept Emily distracted with an I-pad, something we don’t have so she was really interested in it and barely paid attention as they got her IV set up. We prayed and prayed as they wheeled our little girl from the room. Things went well, and we were able to leave early. Since she hadn’t had anything to eat since supper the night before, we headed to McDonald’s for a quick breakfast. Doesn’t McDonald’s always make a kid happy?

Two days later when we returned to learn the results, the orthopedic doctor told us there was nothing he could do to help us. He referred us to a rheumatologist.

The rheumatologist believed Emily had rheumatoid arthritis. The MRI showed fluid and inflammation in her hip. He talked to us about our family history. We weren’t aware of any family members with childhood R.A., but I had eczema and my husband had had polymyositis as a boy. After he had done certain tests by moving her legs around, the doctor ordered multiple blood tests. He also gave her a prescription that would begin to reduce the swelling in her hip and help her with any pain. Because my husband’s childhood disease had involved a lot of needles and surgeries, he didn’t want to go with Emily to have her blood drawn, so I went while he made the next appointment. Again, they were wonderful taking blood as painlessly as possible. I have to say, they treat our babies with great care there.

The doctor was very understanding and returned calls personally to talk with us about our many questions and concerns.

I remembered a DVD we had gotten of a play Emily and Kaitlyn had performed in at church in early June. I watched that DVD carefully.

“There!” I was adamant. “She was fine in that play. See her move and walk. She is standing straight.”

We returned in September, three months since this all began with lots of questions. I repeated our story again, this time adding about the DVD. R.A.?  I didn’t understand this. Does it just suddenly appear? They directed us to websites, which helped us. A juvenile arthritis organization sent me a book and Emily a teddy bear and backpack. The teddy bear is great. It can be heated up and cooled to help with inflammation.

She had moments when she cried. Her leg would hurt. She didn’t want to be active like she had been. It is important to stay active though, so one afternoon, my husband asked her if she wanted to play tennis because she had wanted to learn. They went to the tennis courts and had a good time, but the most exciting part was that Pat noticed that she was running after the ball. When they returned home, he exclaimed over how well she could run. I made her stand against the wall and stand tall and straight. Her legs were nearly the same. She hardly had a bend in her knee to stand straight.

We were so excited. That Sunday, we told everyone and rejoiced. God had healed Emily. He had been answering our prayers all along, but we hadn’t seen that.

At her next appointment, we all rejoiced together at her remarkable recovery. She continued to take her medicine.

In March 2016, because she was doing so well, she was taken off her medicine. At her June and December 2016 appointments, she continued to remain symptom-free.

Today, Emily rides horses, rollerblades, runs, hikes, takes walks with me, and races her bike around our neighborhood. The summer of 2015 was a hard, scary summer of unknowns; 18 months later, we are rejoicing in her good health.

We are thankful. Just as she had been fine one day and not the next, she was not fine, and then she was fine. He led us through the journey, and when we decided to give it all to Him, He made it right again. Praise Him forever.

Although time seemed to go so slowly, it wasn’t so long. We often take for granted healthy bodies, one of God’s most precious gifts. I should have rested in Him and not rushed around trying to find answers. He led us to the right doctor and took care of everything. And yes, I need to work on my patience.

Do you try to fix problems or wait on Him?


The picture is of Emily’s legs now. We never thought to take a picture when they were uneven.

10 Replies to “The Strange Case of the Uneven Legs”

  1. This is a touching article Mrs. Welsh, it brought tears to my eyes. Emi is an amazing kid. I love that I have been given the chance to get closer with Emily over the years. Bless her always.

    1. Thank you, Sharmi. Remembering those times sometimes brings tears to my eyes also. We are grateful that all is well now. Emily loves spending time with you also. God bless you for being such a good friend to my kids.

  2. I remember all those stressful times and praying for Emi. I am amazed that she is doing so well and to see God’s hand at work. Amazing Grace.

  3. I, too, remember your going through those stressful times and praying for Emi. Praise God for His faithfulness in answering even prayers. And, yes, may we do better in learning to put it all in His hands from the very beginning. He does a much better job of handling things than we do.

  4. What a frightening time for all of you! And it’s so tough as a mom to watch your child go through that and feel helpless to do anything about it. I always wonder where people turn who don’t have faith? Who don’t believe in the power of prayer?

    As for waiting on Him? I’m definitely a work-in-progress.

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