A Chapter Ends

We made our trek up to NorCal this past week for what would become our last appointment with Dr Fluffy Unicorn. I found out last Monday on Facebook, while Sporty was at softball practice that Dr Fluffy Unicorn was leaving Stanford to go to London for a master’s program. My heart sunk, not only has he been treating Sporty since she was 10 days old but how was I going to tell Sporty that the one Dr who has always been her constant, her biggest fan (though he’s never seen her play), and who she admires so much, was leaving. She yelled “No!” when I first broke the news. Then followed it up with “Well we can always just go to London for my checkups, I’ve always wanted to see the Eiffel Tower.” {Insert facepalm here}. A) the Eiffel Tower is in Paris, not London. B) it’s really good that your amazing at softball because geography isn’t going to get you into college.”

Fast forward a week and Poppa Bear made a comment that her left foot looked like it was turning in, I had noticed it for a while but tried to convince myself I was being crazy knowing she had an appointment. A decade later and I still stress and over analyze her feet leading up to appointments. Then we were at the beach in San Diego and she was running barefoot and I just knew we would have a rough appointment, In addition to saying goodbye, I knew the news wouldn’t be spectacular, because she’s also been complaining that her left Achilles is giving pain after running at softball practice and it’s turning in, I’ve been around Clubfoot long enough to know that’s not a good equation.

Appointment day and we’re all stressed. Of course he’s running late and Young Jedi is the piece of work that he is. We’re all dreading the goodbye. Ironically, they put us in the casting room and as his office assistant put it so perfectly, you started your journey with us here and you’ll end it with us here. She’s retiring also, she saved me all of those serial castings and brace checks. She would scoop Sporty up out of my arms and walk her around before and in between casting changes, giving me a much needed break to collect my emotional, post-partum self and pull myself together. I don’t think she’ll ever know how much she saved me as a new mom dealing with a birth defect.

Then it’s time for Dr Fluffy Unicorn. “I heard a dirty rumor that this is goodbye.” “You’ll just have to come to London for treatment. Sporty, how’s everything going?” That was the blow, I traveled to see him because of that very simple question. Because for the last 2 years, he has put Sporty’s treatment in Sporty’s hands. Not what I see, or what I think but what Sporty feels and he has taught her to communicate and advocate for herself and that’s a really rare thing for a doctor to put that level of trust in a pre-teen. But they’re her feet, it’s her pain, and that’s how it should be. Even pediatricians address me and not her and she’s shy and doesn’t communicate what she’s feeling but with Dr Fluffy Unicorn, she opened up about her pain, about being afraid of another doctor touching her feet and messing them up and her never being able to play softball. That she wants to play in college and in the Olympics and if someone other than him treats her, she’s worried that may never happen. Everyone in the room was crying.

Then the exam and her Achilles are really tight. X-rays followed and fortunately the structure of her feet are near perfect. Like non-Clubfoot perfect. So that’s the one positive of the appointment. So it’s an Achilles issue. We talked about options. A repeat Achilles lengthening came up for the future (she had this done at 3 months) and then the water works really started. If she had surgery, she’d miss softball and lose her spot and softball is her life. Dr Fluffy Unicorn looked at her and said “Sporty, you’re my one chance at being on the cover of Sports Illustrated. I’m not going to let anyone mess you up!”

So here we are. We’ve been referred to go see a Dr in St Louis that is known all over the world for treating Clubfoot. He’s the only dr that was recommended to us. I’m not crazy about going to St. Louis but from the moment she was diagnosed with clubfeet at my 20 week ultrasound, I vowed to get her the best treatment to give her the best life and I won’t stop now. So it looks like Sporty’s story and journey continues, just in another chapter of her book. I hope we can close this next chapter and look back and say “that was a rough one” but we made it through because really the thought of her having to give up softball because of clubfeet, it makes me angry and sick to my stomach and question if everything really happens for a reason all at the same time.

This picture says it all of what Dr Fluffy Unicorn has done for Sporty and at 10 years old, she recognizes it. He has given her a life we never thought possible for her.

So we’ll close this chapter of our journey of the girl who was made to run with one last picture of her standing outside of Stanford Children’s, the last of 10 years worth of post checkup pictures.

So thank you Dr Fluffy Unicorn for all that you have done for our Sporty, I hope this is see you later (like at her college intent signing) and not goodbye.

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