Today was a visit like any other. I had hoped for good news, but I was prepared for Dr. Hoffinger to tell me nothing had changed. I had hoped that he would give us clearance for a hinge, and I wanted to talk about limitations in PE next year in Kindergarten.

Just a regular checkup on “his” leg, as he jokingly referred to it.

We hopped on the train, like any other visit.


She’s always so excited to watch the world pass by.

We made it, and were fairly early, so we settled in to wait for a little longer. Gave us more time to watch Nemo, and play with toys.

Then they called us back for x-rays, and she was good as gold, like always. The staff here seems almost like family. They all know Amy on sight, and I know all their names.

We got to our room, and when I saw her x-ray, I didn’t know what I was looking at.

It looked really different. Look right here.

So, I’m pulling up her old x-ray, and was about to compare the two when Dr. Hoffinger walked in. He said it wasn’t our turn yet, but he had a lull, and “saw this princess here, so he just had to come in.” Amy giggled.

I love this man so much.

So I pointed at her x-ray and was like, “What is this? It’s new. Is it good? It’s good, right?” There was lots of hemming and hawing. I was trying to remember to breathe.

He looked at me and the glasses came off.

My heart stopped.

“You said it. That leg is healed. It looks great.”

I can’t believe it. Healed. FINALLY. My head started to spin. I had hoped, but I didn’t expect this!!!

“What do we do next?” I hear my voice say.

He started telling me about this new trial that is coming down the pipeline getting ready for FDA approval. He says it’s been used in Europe to heal a pseudarthrosis. He doesn’t think it would be right for Amy, as she was doing so well, but he knew the scholar in me would be intrigued. He was right!

Then there’s this.

What the heck is that? He says it’s a crack in the graft, but not to worry about it (NOT worry?) and that we’re going to ignore it. Amy’s function is great, so that’s all that matters. He’s right. Let’s move on.

We launched into a talk about braces, and how she’s absolutely ready for a hinge at the ankle. Clamshell hinged AFO. He also said she should be evaluated for physical therapy, but he doesn’t think she’ll need it, but never hurts to see.

We talked about kindergarten, and Physical Education. He doesn’t think I’m being a helicopter mom, which I appreciate. We agreed that’s contact sports are best avoided. Anything where she would be tackled, pushed down, or accidentally kicked. Also anything that adds to the force of her body on her leg. So jumping is ok, jumping from a height, or a trampoline, is not okay.

Oh! Almost forgot! Lateral view:

Looks good, right?

Anyways, so I’m in my happy place. ? Could this visit possibly have gone any better???

Then he mentions that he’s going back to grad school. This seems like an awesome opportunity, and I’m excited for him. I ask if he will be cutting back on clinic time while he’s in this program, fully expecting that he may be possibly cutting back on patients. But not mine. Surely not mine. My kid has “his” leg that he’s super protective of.

“Well, the program is in London.”


My brain whirls.



Now what?

My mind whirls with a thousand questions I couldn’t process or remember. My vision blurred, and I realized I was crying. I hid behind Amy, ashamed at my emotional outburst.

“Are you coming back?” I asked, my voice breaking.

He tells me that he hopes to return in a year, but he isn’t sure that Stanford will grant him the leave of absence.

I feel like I’ve been kicked in the teeth, as the weight of his words hammer into my brain.

This could be it. He might never see Amy again. I just sat there and cried. Not caring that he saw me anymore. He hugged me, for a really long time, and thanked me for trusting him with my baby. That did nothing to stop the tears readily falling from my eyes. But when I pulled away I saw his eyes were red, and wet.

“This is just as hard for him.” I thought, and tried to rein in my emotions. He started talking about this other doctor, who I swore was named Jason Voorhees. (I was wrong, and slightly horrified at the name. It’s actually John Vorhies.) He said no one else at Stanford would know what to do with her, and that we should see Dr. Vorhies in 3 months.

He left.

I called Amy’s Dad. He was stunned with the news of Dr. Hoffinger’s impending departure. Then I told him her leg was healed. “What?! Say that again.”

My mind was buzzing.

John, her nurse came in, gave me tissues, and handed me a prescription for her new hinged AFO. He also gave me a long hug, and I broke down again.

They are so, so good to us here.

He confirmed with Dr. Hoffinger that we don’t need to continue with the Exogen treatments, so I guess I can pack that now- in case I need it in the future. (We’re moving to a new house next week.)

I went out to the front desk, Amy got a toy from the treasure box and stickers. I made a new appointment with this new doctor, who they had never heard of. So they had to run back and find out who it was, and where he sees patients. Looks like we’re traveling to Palo Alto now. Not only am I losing Dr. Hoffinger, but the entire Emeryville team. We will meet him September 10th.

I caught a glimpse of Dr. Hoffinger as I turned to leave. “Hey!” I called out, my voice rough. He stopped and looked at me. “You better come back. I’ll see you later, okay?” He smiled at me. “That’s a good way to leave it. I’ll see you next time.”

I waved, ducked my head, and left. Tears silently falling again. I called my parents. I cried more as I sat in the grass. Mostly out of fear of the unknown. What if…

Amy ran around in the grass, happy as a lark, oblivious to the news, both good and bad. She’s happy and pain-free, what other concerns does a four-year-old have?

As for me, all I want to do is go home now. I want to both celebrate and share my fears with Amy’s Dad. He had better come back. I don’t think I can do this without him. ?

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