I was so nervous.
The whole way there, tears were threatening, or falling. Amy was mostly silent, sleeping. At one point she did ask is we were driving all the way to London to see Dr. Hoffinger. It brought much needed laughter. The radio was broken, so I was mostly alone with my thoughts, and the “what-ifs” were laying waste to my sanity. What if it’s broken? Dr. Hoffinger is leaving in a week. How will we find a surgeon we trust to put her leg back together? There was little traffic, and we made it in record time. Yet at the same time, it was also an endless drive I feared would never end. But at last, we arrived.
There we were. Full circle. Last time we were here it was November 18, 2016. We showed up filled with fear, and met Dr. Hoffinger. Today, I arrived again full of fear, to say goodbye to him, and ask the same question as back then: Do you see a fracture?
We were early, checked in, and waited for a couple hours. They called us back for an x-ray and I let out a slow breath. Here goes nothing.
She held still like a rockstar. The image popped up on a small screen, no larger than a 5X7. I held my breath looking for the fracture I “knew” was there. I saw… nothing. It looked exactly the same. Confused, I returned to Amy’s side to help position her for the lateral image. Again, I peeked at the small image. It looked good too.
All the weight and worry I had carried the last couple days just fell away from me. Something was different, I didn’t know what, but I no longer feared a fracture. Sweet relief. I looked forward to talking with Dr. Hoffinger, but I no longer felt the urgent need to speak with him immediately. Thank God!
I asked the tech to please burn me a CD with all her images, since I wasn’t sure who our next surgeon would be. She said it wouldn’t be a problem. Then, we hung out in the full waiting room. Many people were there to say their farewells and get recommendations for new surgeons. We waited, read books, and pulled marbles through maze paths. Finally, we were shown to a room, and I got to see her x-rays full size.
McFarland Bypass – 18 months Post-op
(Surgery date, 2/21/18)
My first impression was that it looked unchanged, except for that larger dark area towards the top of the graft. What the heck was that? A growth? Can neurofibromas grow on dead bone?!?
Lateral looks pretty much the same. When I thought there was nothing more to learn, I sat back to wait. Then, as if he had seen some invisible signal, Dr. Hoffinger arrived.
He said there was no fracture, and that everything looked good. He peeked at the large bump on her actual leg, and felt how hard it was. He hemmed and hawed a bit, displeased. He couldn’t see a cause on the x-ray. He said he wanted one more image with her leg rotated so that point was parallel with the table. So we left to go do that.
Back in our room I studied the new image, but didn’t really see anything new. Then Dr. Hoffinger returned and blew my mind. First, he pointed out how the top and bottom of the graft had continued to remodel, fully incorporating.
Then he pointed out the crack at the top of the graft, and how it had gray shadowing all over it.
“Dead bone doesn’t heal. It shouldn’t heal. Look at it, it’s healing. You can see all the remodeling here, the new bone there. She’s taking weight through this graft, it’s working beautifully!”
Then he pointed out all the shadowing along the length of the graft, here:
That’s ALL NEW BONE being laid down. We never noticed it because we’ve never taken an x-ray at this angle before. Essentially, she’s taking weight down the graft. Because of the stress she is putting in it, her body is having a biological response, reinforcing that graft. Healing it, making it stronger. Mind. Blown. With this growth happening, it’s a possibility that she may still show side-by-side union some day!
So, the million dollar question: what the heck is sticking out of her leg? It’s her bone, but there’s nothing too bad about it. He thinks that some extra padding in a circle around the area will help cushion and possibly push it back into place. Then, to ensure we did it right, he went on a lipstick hunt.
I could hear him down the hall. “Yes, I need to borrow you lipstick. No, it’s not a joke. Please?” ?
He returned with the lipstick and very gently lipsticked her bump. Then, he put her brace on, making a lipstick imprint exactly where the bump was hitting her brace.
So easy. Why didn’t I think of that? I hang picture frames like that all the time! (I took the liberty of sharpieing that area after so it wouldn’t wear off on her sock.)
That figured out, we moved to the matter of our next surgeon. He recommended Dr. John Vorheis, and today I finally learned why. Turns out that he was assisting in the operating room with Amy when she had her McFarland Bypass.
He also said that he knew he would be open to sharing and consulting on Amy’s case with him. ? He promised he was leaving us in good hands, and gave me a hug. Then he hugged Amy, and I got one last picture of them together. Amy, and the man who saved her leg. ❤️
8/28/19: Brace adjustment with Cammie at Hanger
10/7/19: Initial appointment with Dr. Lerman at Shriners
11/26/19: Initial appointment with Dr. Vorheis at Stanford
Until then, hang on, and pray. So far, so good. Doctor shopping, fun times. We’ve got this. ❤️