DEXTER Sudholz-Meloni was born with a condition so rare — it has even had the 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. But club foot often causes the feet to point inwards, not upward.
“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 mother, 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 all together.
“Eventually they worked out it was Congenital Vertical Talus.”
All the research on this disease suggests just how uncommon it is and how unlucky Dexter has been.
However Dexter and Simone haven’t treated it as bad luck, they have taken it as a challenge.
A challenge they are battling through together, with help from a strong band of friends and family.
Dexter is now 18 months old, the 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,’’ his mother said.
“It’s tough, mentally and physically draining, but it’s something you have to do.
“We try and stay with friends, or my mother and father-in-law (in Melbourne) when we can.
“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.”
However debilitating the cast may be, it doesn’t stop him 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 fly wire at home out to the back yard and I sit there and think, ‘how on earth did he do that?’.
So determined in fact — that Simone 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 its looking less likely.
“But I don’t believe them when they say that, he is such a tough kid, you can already tell how tough he is.”
The battle is far from over for Simone and Dexter but they are ticking off boxes along the way, they won’t give up and there’s no doubt the whole Kyabram community is behind them.