Seeing God in ALL the Details
We are home from Baltimore, and I must say that my head still hasn’t fully wrapped around everything yet. First of all, shame on me for assuming that people in the south are much more nice and friendly than other parts of the country. I have never in all my life met people who were more kind and service oriented than the people in Baltimore. From the airport to the car rental office to restaurants and the place where we stayed, everyone went above and beyond to care for us and provide assistance to us.
Any time we travel there is usually a lot of stress involved. Especially with getting through the airport. Because her crutches are metal, it is usually an extra hassle to get through security. The last time we went on vacation, we were mortified at how they practically did a full body search on Jian because she couldn’t walk through the metal detectors. Then we held up the line because they had to put her crutches through the xray machine and answer her questions about why they were doing that. This time, everyone was much more understanding and seemed to use some common sense to make the process easier.
One thing that makes Jian (and I’m sure most other children) happiest is seeing snow. I was worried about the weather, because a couple days before we left, I saw that it was 13 degrees there. While we were there, it stayed around 40 degrees. They had a huge snowstorm a few weeks before (36 inches I believe they said) so we were able to see snow pushed to the sides of the street which made her excited but didn’t hinder our ability to drive. We stayed at a place across the street from the hospital where only patients can stay and costs about half as much as a modest hotel room. We got there very late and were starving. They have a shared kitchen where people have donated food. Jian likes to make sure her tummy is very full before going to sleep at night, and her favorite way to do this is by eating a bowl of noodles. We opened the cabinet to find it full of ramen noodles! She said, “Ooh! This is my favorite place ever!”
We slept well and arrived at her appointment the next morning. We waited for a little while then had 2 Xrays done. At this point she was pretty anxious and shut down. Next we went to a room and one of the Residents came in to take some history from us. Just as I was explaining that the most important thing was to have the doctor personally connect with Jian, he walked in (not having this information.) I held my breath as Jian pretended to play on her ipad and ignore him. Without missing a beat, he knelt beside her and started making conversation about the game she was playing. He went on and on even though from his perspective, she was completely ignoring him. But she would crack smiles and give him one word answers, which let me know that she was engaged and that she liked him already.
I told him what we were hoping to achieve with bringing her left leg into alignment, and he immediately said, “That won’t be very difficult to do.” I didn’t fully understand this, but he sees rare deformities from all over the world, and people usually come to him and book surgeries 1 year in advance. He asked what she had available as far as nerve innervation. I told him everything was at least partially intact in the right leg. Nothing in the left lower leg and no left quad. Without missing a beat he asked “What about the left hip?” I told him it was innervated. “That’s all she needs to be able to ambulate.” I know! Finally someone else gets it!
He told Jian that if you come to his clinic, you leave with a toy from the toy closet. He asked what her favorite thing was to play. She said Legos. I almost corrected her and explained that he was talking about something like a bouncy ball or a sticker or a lollipop, but he said, “While you go get more Xrays I will go check the toy closet.” He came back with 2 sets of Legos, one of which was Minecraft–her favorite! He and the Resident sat in the floor for quite a while building legos, and more importantly, building a relationship and trust.
He took his time and explained everything and answered my questions. He pointed out that it was good that her left leg had been held in this position until now because it allowed the joint to form correctly and to be protected until she was able to get it released. Wow! I have been obsessed this whole time that this should have been prevented and angry that someone had let this happen. I had not expected to gain this emotional relief. He said it was also a good thing that she has some weakness in her hip abductors so that they won’t overpower the opposite muscles and risk becoming contracted again. He said that the fact that she is maturing at a young age is good because her body will likely only grow a few more years after the surgery and that she shouldn’t have to come back for any more releases due to rapid growth. All of these things that I have seen as negatives are actually going to serve her for the best possible outcomes.
He wisely observed that Jian is very intelligent, and the most difficult part of this process is going to be working with her to mentally accept what will be involved. We are scheduled to have the procedure done the first week of May. We will plan to stay in Baltimore with extensive recovery and rehab probably through most of June and then continue with therapy in Birmingham in July. Best case scenario, she will be able to walk with independence by August. She may choose to use a crutch and/or brace for speed or distance. He said we will just have to watch and follow her lead. I smiled and told him that if he gives her half a chance by aligning her body, he will watch and be amazed.
This doctor referred to himself as “basically just a carpenter who rebuilds things.” He told Jian that she was so smart that she could do more than what he does. She could do something really cool one day, like brain surgery. I know of a Great Physician who was also “just a carpenter.” He has been holding our girl in the palm of his hand long before I knew her. In His perfect timing, He is revealing His plan for her life. I am thankful for this team in Baltiomore and the hope that they have given us. And I am even more thankful for the hope that we have for the life to come after this one where all will be made new.