Monday, February 7, 2011

Doctors, Doctors and More Doctors

From the first day of Tommy's life it seems as if we have had an endless stream of doctors. It seems like every new doctor we meet tells us how we should see one specialist or another. Traci and I refer to this vast network of doctor's as Tommy's village.

The first specialist who came into our lives has always held a sort of primacy of place for us. If for no other reason than she was the first who looked at Tommy and said "I can fix that, for ya," while that isn't a direct quote it might as well have been.

I was sitting with Tommy in the Neonatal ICU in Spokane, when we first met Dr. P. I had been told she would likely come by to consult either that afternoon or in the morning. Remember it was me and Tommy against the world at this point still, his momma was still stuck down in Moscow and our assorted families were all en route.

I remember sitting alone in that quiet space clutching my rosary, looking at my firstborn, wondering what had happened, how it could be fixed, why it had happened. Dr. P came in and introduced herself, took a look at Tommy and started telling me exactly how we could fix the cleft and what sort of time frame we were looking at for the various surgeries. I remember thinking, "She can fix him, and make his face whole, how awesome is she".

I'm pretty sure I even called Traci using a few precious seconds of my cell phones rapidly dwindling battery and told her, "I met the plastic surgeon and she doesn't care about the other stuff going on. She says she can fix Tommy's face."

Over time and several surgeries, she has done just that. Tommy has one upper lip and palate, where he used to have three. We have heard lots of people tell us lots of things about Dr. P, but never has a single one of them been bad. She is an amazing lady who frequently takes trips to developing countries and does cleft repairs for the poor in those nations.

Traci and I often say that God probably had to make Tommy the way he did, because had he been born without the cleft and with his other parts being like they should, he would be too beautiful to look at. Plus it has given us a window into so many things. Dr. P's deft touch as she has repaired his upper lip, his nose and his palate has been amazing.

I almost wrote noses in that last paragraph. One thing we found out after one of Tommy's surgeries is that his body tried to make two noses. It was beneficial for Dr. P as she was able to use them to her advantage in that surgery.

When I look at old pictures of Tommy and see that wide cleft smile, sometimes I get a little sad. Sometimes I miss it. I know everyone looks at their babies and waits to see how they change over their first year or two. Traci and I got to see ours change over a few hours. We would get to the hospital for surgery and get everything squared away, sending our little man off into the capable hands of the hospital staff, then we would go eat breakfast and wait. After a few hours we could go see him in recovery, the first time we got to see him with a whole upper lip was amazing. Every surgery since has had a sort of "let's look at the new Tommy, feel to it". 

If you have the means or the inclination or are looking for a tax write-off. Give Operation Smile a look. They do amazing things.

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