Chris sailed through his fifth and final surgery this last Monday. The first night was rough but he stuck it out with calm and bravado.
They opened his nose completely, broke it, aligned the septum after removing part of it, used the excess to replace missing cartilage, lined up his septum, which was slung to the left, centered his nose with his cupid's bow and sewed it into place.
The staff in Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio was beyond fantastic in their care of my 18-year-old boy. In fact, each and every one asked for information to come and see him play at a local restaurant near where we live.
Today he took a walk around our lake, made himself a tasty lunch and is now watching the Toy Story special on ABC Family Channel. He is out of pain, his nose looks beautiful and he is anticipating returning to the restaurant where he plays backup for a talented singer/song writer and beginning his job with an upscale Japanese restaurant where he will be personally trained by the owner. Life is good.
It's funny how Children's Hospital has been a part of a major portion of my life. At two months and then at four, I was admitted with a fractured skull, age four years found me again admitted with fourth degree burns and age nine for neurological study. Age 15 found me practically living there with my friend, Patsy, one of the few female hemophiliacs at that time and age 16 saw me visiting her the final time a few days before she died.
That last evening, as I was leaving the hospital, a sound made me glance to my left. In a small room sat a nurse feeding a baby. What caught my eye was the fact that the baby was sitting upright. I looked again. The infant, hungrily eating, had a hole where his or her mouth should have been. I remember saying a quick prayer and thinking I hope that baby has a mother who loves it. Now I realize that what I had witnessed was a nurse feeding a baby born with cleft lip and palate. God had given me a glance into my future.
It is odd when I reflect back on my 50 plus years journey with Children’s hospital. It began with my healing, followed by the death of my friend. Within the tragedy of losing Patsy lay a promise: a promise of a sweet babe who would need a home.
We seldom realize that we are witnessing what is to come. It wasn’t until we got the call that a beautiful baby boy, born with cleft lip and palate, was looking for a family, that I realized my blessing and I knew, I just knew that he was meant to be mine. I knew that it was destiny that made me visit Children’s that last, fateful night: I was meant to say goodbye to my dear friend who I thought would be a part of my life for many years to come and I was meant to witness something that would help me a full 24 years later.
Perchance my odyssey with Children's ends here: Chris' final surgery. An era has passed; a chapter has closed. Perhaps, when my sweet son moves on to make his own life and create his own family, I will return to Children’s…this time as a volunteer instead of a patient, visitor, or parent. Life is good.