Dexter Sudholz-Meloni was born with a condition so rare it even had doctors raising their eyebrows.
When he was born, Dexter’s foot was pointing directly up towards his knee.
At first, the doctors thought it may have been club foot.
‘‘His toes were touching his knee, it is hard to explain but really his foot was flicked up with the top of his foot against his shin,’’ Dexter’s mum Simone Sudholz-Meloni said.
Mrs Sudholz-Meloni said the staff were baffled.
‘‘They began treating it as club foot but after some unsuccessful surgery they realised they were treating the wrong condition altogether. Eventually they worked out it was congenital vertical talus.’’
All the research on this disease suggests how uncommon it is and how unlucky Dexter has been. However Dexter and his mum haven’t treated it as bad luck, they have taken it as a challenge with help from a strong band of friends and family.
Dexter is now 18 months old, and that time has been spent travelling to and from the Royal Children’s Hospital for surgery or plaster changes.
‘‘So far we have done 28 trips to the children’s hospital and back,’’ Mrs Sudholz-Meloni said.
‘‘It’s tough, mentally and physically draining, but it’s something you have to do.
‘‘He has had surgery five times all up, including getting some serious plaster changes as well.
‘‘Because the plaster is so big and he is so small it can be a bit of a task.’’
Dexter has lived with a plaster cast from his toes to his hip for all his life, although the way he sits there patiently and calmly — you wouldn’t realise.
‘‘The plaster has to be up to his hip because if they have it any lower babies can wiggle their way out of it,’’ his mum said.
However debilitating the cast may be, it doesn’t stop Dexter from occasionally acting up.
‘‘He can’t run, obviously, and when he walks he normally grabs hold of something and drags his leg along the ground.
‘‘He is a happy kid though, he climbs my flywire at home out to the backyard and I sit there and think, ‘how on earth did he do that?’,’’ Mrs Sudholz-Meloni said.
So determined in fact that Mrs Sudholz-Meloni doesn’t believe doctors when they put a scope on what Dexter will and won’t be able to do.
‘‘At first they said he would run and play footy and stuff like everyone else, but as we have gone along they have said it’s looking less likely. But I don’t believe them when they say that, he is such a tough kid.’’