I'm not happy. I'm sad. And somewhere deep deep down and deep I know it is the circumstance that necessitates (apparently) the brace, not Zig's legs.
This is a young physio who drifts in once or twice a term; the date rarely coincides with the date Zig's helper has been given. Consequently, thus far I've made it to her visits just once. At the end of the call today I asked her in future to ring me with each appointment. She said that parents aren't usually present at school-based physio sessions (but there are no home-based NHS physio sessions for school-aged children). Perhaps they are - perhaps there is a parent present at every school-based physio session she runs. If the degree to which she included me in her instructions the time I was present, and the amount of eye contact she engaged in is in anyway representative of her general manner, there could well be.
She and the orthotist are representatives of a healthcare system which is only interested in treating symptoms. High blood pressure? Take a pill for the rest of your life, then a pill for the side effects, then a pill for the side effects, then a pill for the side effects. Let's not poke around in the circumstance of the patient, or their reponses to that circumstance. Twisting legs? Let's brace them, from the hips down. Let's not ask why the child walks with straight legs when he concentrates. Let's not implement a consistent system of gentle, encouraging, funny reminders for the hours he is away from the non-count parents. Let's not believe that if he fakes it - eventually - he will make it.
It's the system that necessitates the brace, not the cerebral palsy.
This is the thing with C.P. A standard issue person takes the smallest distance from A to B, taking a step is a simple straight message from brain to muscles: when they need to drive to Manchester they pop onto the M66 for a few minutes and there you go. Zig - when Zig takes a step - when he needs to get to Manchester - he chuggers along up into Haslingden, Rawtenstall, Burnley, across onto the moors, into Haworth for a half hour of Bronte breathing, through Heptonstall (hello Sylvia), Hebden Bridge, Todmorden, and then bugger knows how many weaving back roads that criss-cross the M62. And then he gets to Manchester.
He gets there. And has a kebab in Rusholme.
But the NHS doesn't give a shit about this. The NHS's map to Manchester has just one thick blue line that is the M66.
At the weekends, evenings, holidays, there will be no brace. We will explore all the little places that take time, find the tracks and footpaths, hear the skylarks on the moors, poke around the hedgerows, and pick dandelions and sow thistle for Brian.
And we will get to Manchester in time for a kebab.