living on the navajo reservation

I grew up most of my life in the city and coming back to my great grandmother’s house was a regular event throughout my entire life. Nearly all of my aunts, uncles, and grandparents have spent most of their lives around that house and it has become the place where parties and holidays are held and it really is so stereotypical and happy there.

Almost 30 feet away was the house that belonged to my paternal grandmother and that’s where I currently live with my son. We’ve lived here for a year now and I really do think that he loves being here, so close to his grandmother’s every day. It’s definitely a big change in environment for me every day but I  really wouldn’t want to change a thing about it.

It is really unfortunate the kind of circumstances that brought us here though, but as always it is because of my boyfriend’s actions and choices involving heroin. For at least 4 months before we moved he was taking money from my account to spend on his habit. This money was what I made at my full-time job, money that I worked hard for while pregnant might I add. This decision to basically steal from me was the reason that we almost didn’t make our rent payment for those months. And why for the last two months that we lived there we didn’t pay our rent at all. If we didn’t move when we did we would’ve eventually been forced to leave by the constable with our 2-month-old infant.

And even after moving and being away from the toxic environment that was our apartment complex sobriety wasn’t a priority to Kannon’s father. Just finding some way to get a buzz even if it wasn’t from opiates. And for other dramatic and just stupid reasons and events, Kannon’s father was no longer welcome on my grandmother’s property.

But that’s all changed and we are happy here on our own.  We live at least 45 minutes from a Wal-Mart and a mall and other main food places but the view every day is fantastic and so worth it. We live right across from this small mountain and it is just gorgeous. My family each year goes on a group hike and we get right up to the edge for picture and just for the thrill of it.  We have our Easter egg hunt at the base of this mountain and my Great Grandfather was even laid to rest nearby. Each winter we also go sledding and tubing down the roads too. There have just been so many memories created by my family on this lands that make it so unbelievably special.

It definitely is a shock not having a heating a cooling system like most civilized areas but it’s nothing some hard work and elbow grease doesn’t fix. It was a struggle to keep the wood stove constantly going and warm with a young baby but you know next winter will be a different story and experience because my son will be much older. Even now we are fortunate enough to have an air conditioner in our bedroom now that it is getting to be warmer each and every day. Even living on the reservation we are very fortunate and privileged to have running water, electricity, and gas in our home readily available to us.

Many of the residents of the reservations including elderly don’t have access to these kinds of basic needs. Many people living in more rural areas than myself have to go and get water and bring it back to their home and conserve this water for possibly a week or more before they can go make the trip to get more. Many of these same homes don’t even have access to electricity. This could be because of the cultural preferences of the elders but that doesn’t make it right. If anything because they are elderly they should be receiving access to electricity more than others. But this is just the cold hard facts of the lifestyle of that is very common on the reservation. Each Native American reservation is considered sovereign land and only receive a predesignated amount of fund from the US government and as much as the Native governments try their best to distribute assistance to those who need it the fact is that we as Native Americans are struggling each and every day.

 

mother of a club foot child

At birth, my doctors found out that my son has been affected with clubfoot, on his right side. Because of the medical treatment, I got in the early months of my pregnancy at the IHS hospital in Phoenix, AZ, I was only able to get two ultrasounds my entire pregnancy.

Sometimes if a baby is positioned in the right way then clubfoot can be identified in utero, other cases like my son’s it can’t be known until birth. There really isn’t a way to prepare for this if you are able to have the early diagnosis. Except that maybe your newborn can’t wear some of the really cute pants or PJs because of the way that treatment goes.

Clubfoot is caused by a varying number of things, positioning in the womb, genetic history or even just the ways the muscles of tendon develop by being too short causing the foot to be curved and turned downwards like golfing club, hence the name.

Treatment for clubfoot starts as soon as possible with an orthopedic surgeon, this just the kind of doctor that you go to for broken bones and such. But what the doctor does is stretch and manipulate the affected foot to the correct position and cast the foot in place, from upper thigh to toes. Each and every week the appointment is made and the cast is cut off and replaced while the cast each week slowly and slowly turns back into the correct position. This didn’t harm to my son or cause him pain, and it’s really similar to what orthodontic do to patients with braces.  But like braces he was sore and irritable after each adjustment, nothing a little cuddling and ibuprofen could help. This goes on for about 6-8 weeks depending on the severity of the clubfoot but luckily enough my son only needed 6 weeks, 6 casts for his treatment.

My son did well with each casting but the hard part about it was making sure that he didn’t get hot and that the cast didn’t get wet and sweaty. My son also wasn’t able to take a regular bath for weeks and he had to take plenty of sponge baths.

After the 6th cast instead of the regular appointment, my son was scheduled for a tenotomy. This is a simple non-invasive surgery that is done to the heel tendon, aka Achilles tendon. All the doctor does is cut the tendon and recast while in the operating room this cast stays in place for 4 weeks. This just helps to ensure that the surgical wound heals properly. While in the cast the tendon regrows longer and is completely fine afterward.  my son acted and developed in all of the

Despite all of this my son acted and developed in all of the regular ways and in the regular average timeline of most babies.

Dealing with all of this while being a first-time mother was probably one of the most difficult things ever. if it wasn’t for Kannon’s father I really believe that I would have developed postpartum depression. But luckily enough he was unbelievably supportive because I truly thought that my son’s deformity was my fault I thought every day that I was not big enough for my son to grow and that I caused this. But each time this thought bubbled in my head my boyfriend reassured me.

As amazing as he was my boyfriend’s addiction also was a common factor in my son’s recovery. There were the times when his father was so dope sick that I couldn’t convince him to get up to come to the casting appointment with me for our son. There were even times he would call me as soon as I parked at the doctor’s office and he would apologize and ask for me to come pick him up because he knew he had to be there for our child. This, in turn, would make us late for the appointment.

Even on the morning of the surgery his father turned off our alarms and made us hours late to the scheduled appointment for his surgery. Anyone that has surgery knows that the patient can’t eat or drink anything before the operation and with an infant that is just plain torture. My son wasn’t able to breastfeed for 6 hours before the appointment and because of his father’s decision to turn off our alarms my son had to go almost 3 extra hours without feeding.

This made the entire rest of the day so tense between us and he even had the audacity to sleep in the waiting room while I was pacing and waiting for our son to be our of the operating room.

After the 4 weeks of a single cast my little boy would only have to wear a special kind of brace for 23 hours of the day and 7 days of the week. He was only allowed to be out of this brace for an hour for a bath and a strech. Mind you my son was still tiny and squishy and small. He learned how to roll over in this brace and if that gives you an idea of how little he was.

But as time goes on he is now at the point of his recovery where he only needs to wear his brace over night. This is the longest and most vital part of his journey as a clubfoot baby. He has to continue wearing his brace until he is 4 years old. Each and every night. Along with the brace there are ankle streches and rotations that need to be done daily to be sure that his foot stays flexible and this helps ensure that there is no relapse of his clubfoot.

So the jouney goes on but despite everything I am so grateful of my son and eveything that he is. He is currently walking and every single step that he takes I am so so proud to see. With out his doctors and treatment he wouldn’t ever being doing anything that a non-deformed child could do. So thank you to his doctors I’m be beyond grateful.