Basketball-mad Kyle Higgan has partial feeling in his right leg and sciatic nerve damage so severe it feels like he’s been in a nasty accident (luckily he hasn’t!). His latest operation will give him a chance at normality, but he’s got a long road ahead.
It all started in 2018 when Kyle had an operation to correct inward-turning feet. A four-day hospital stay turned into a 14-day nightmare for Kyle and his mum Alyse Whyte. “After the operation, Kyle ended up on heavy pain relief because he couldn’t touch his leg as it hurt so much. “He ended up with metal plates in his knees and metal pins in his ankles.” Six months later, Kyle was still in pain and underwent an MRI. He was diagnosed with a damaged sciatic nerve. “He couldn’t feel or move his toes and when he walked his foot just limply hung there. It’s a little better now, but he still hasn’t got full feeling in his right leg,” explains Alyse. Kyle will have nerve damage for life, as well as associated pains such as pins and needles, and really nasty calluses on his feet caused by his pain-induced gait. On top of that, Alyse says he’s had to go under the knife again! “Because of Kyle’s drop foot, his toes ended up looking like claws. To fix it, surgeons cut the tendons in his foot and stretched them to release his toes. It’s never ending!” Recovery is a long and arduous process, especially when you’re just a kid. “He’s done six weeks in a cast; he’ll have four weeks in a moon boot and then he’ll have to wear a leg splint called an AFO 24/7.” On top of his physical struggles, Kyle also has autism and ADHD, and has really battled at school. “He’s lost a lot of friends, because he can’t join in with them. At morning tea and lunch, you’ll find him watching kids play while he sits there – sometimes I have the urge to pick him up from school, because I hate the idea of him being alone the whole time.” Sport has kept Kyle smiling during the tough times, explains his mum. "Basketball is his life saver, because he struggles making friends so much.” At nearly six foot tall and with size 11 feet at just 12-years-old, Kyle is the perfect size for it! So, when his aunt Terri nominated Kyle for Satan’s Little Helper, we knew we had to get him some slick gear and kitted him out with an LA Lakers singlet, a basketball and some Puma Court Rider kicks. “Kyle was absolutely over the moon when the basketball stuff arrived. He had no idea we’d nominated him! The basketball gets used nearly every day, even though he can’t get outside to his hoop. He wears the singlet all the time. Even if it’s cold, he’ll still wear it!” Alyse says he’s waiting for his foot to heal before trying on the shoes and is determined to get back on his feet as quickly as possible. A 12-year-old shouldn’t have to display such resilience, but Kyle continues to impress everyone with his stoicism. We wish him a speedy recovery!