A mother who suffers from a disorder which makes feet shrink only managed to get a diagnosis after sharing symptoms online.
Sophie Earl-Park suffers from Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT), a group of inherited disorders that damages nerves outside the brain and spine, as well as a number of other health conditions.
Mrs Earl-Park said she shared a picture of “curling and arched” feet on Facebook and someone contacted her to ask if she had CMT.
She said it was a “eureka” moment and she later received a diagnosis after being referred to a neurological expert by her GP.
The 29-year-old, whose feet have shrunk from a size six to a size five, is trying to raise awareness of her condition during CMT awareness month with the charity CMT UK.
Mrs Earl-Park, from Swansea, was born with congenital hip dysplasia and has had 14 major hip operations since birth.
When her son Bentley – now aged six – was born, her hip socket fractured in four places which ultimately meant she needed a hip replacement.
She told the Press Association: “After the hip replacement I was unable to recover at a normal speed and was made to feel silly by my consultant, but I knew there was something else pretty major going on with my body, as my legs and arms were getting weaker and weaker to the point where I struggled to even hold my son to bottle feed him.”
Three years later, when she was 26, she was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndromes (EDS), which is a group of rare inherited conditions that affect connective tissue.
“I joined the EDS Facebook support group and shared a picture of my curling, arched feet and asked if anyone else had the same. A lady messaged me to say my feet looked like hers and she had Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) – it was a eureka moment,” she said.
“I immediately Googled CMT and found I had all the classical symptoms – my legs are shaped like an upside down champagne bottle, I’ve got hammer toes and high arched feet, swan neck fingers (which means they’re bending inwards) and I’ve got hip dysplasia, which is directly linked to CMT.
“In addition, I have foot drop on both feet that requires me to walk with my legs up high in order to stop them dragging on the floor.
“Luckily my new GP had seen CMT in other patients, recognised the foot deformities and referred me to a neurologist. As soon as I walked into the consultant’s room he said he knew I had CMT.
“It was such a relief to be diagnosed, as it’s meant I’ve been able to do things differently.
“I’ve been given a wheelchair for long days out, ankle supports and I’ve also got a mobility scooter to get around, as my CMT is quickly progressing and it’s becoming increasingly difficult and exhausting to walk.
“Living with CMT can be challenging on a day-to-day basis and being a ‘normal’ mother to my son is hard because I can’t do all the things I want to do with him in the way my peers do with their children.
“On top of all this, my feet have shrunk from a size six to a five and because my arches are so high, my feet are wide so it’s a struggle to get shoes – although on the plus side, Sketchers are brilliant.”
:: To find out more visit www.cmt.org.uk or call 0800 6526316.
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Last Updated: Friday 15th September, 2017