Thursday, July 9, 2009

Surprises, Magic and Miracles!

Twelve days in New York City and Hank and I are homesick and tired! Long time to be away from home and the rest of the family! Jeff left for California at 3 am this morning. He was on stand-by for a 6 am flight and am pleased to say he was able to get on, instead of spending his day at the airport, as feared. Lucy and Charlie are so happy to have him home and probably are feeling a bit more secure...he was gone for a whole week!

It's been an amazing two days, full of surprises, magic and miracles! Yesterday, we all slept in and got a late start on the day. (it felt so good...) Not wanting to over-tire Hank, we took our time and stayed in until the afternoon. We finally ventured out and headed to Times Square in hopes of getting some half-priced tickets for a Broadway show. Every day at 3:00, the ticket booth opens and tickets for that evening's show go on sale for half price. Not every show is available, but there is usually a good selection.

As we stood in line, a homeless and somewhat drunk older man, holding a cup for change, approached us. As he got closer, he spotted the yellow "popcorn" sutures on Hank's face. He started backing up and yelling, "OH, OH, OH!!!" I thought he was just teasing Hank, but turns out he was truly freaked out. Just Great!!... "He just had surgery!" I told him. The man stopped....straightened up...and started apologizing profusely. He apologized to Hank and then grabbed Jeff's arm..."I'm sorry man! God bless!" he then apologized again and once again grabbed Jeff's arm. I could feel Jeff's body tense as he said, "Alright...move along."

Poor Hank..just as he gets the confidence to venture out... At this point, I offered to stand in line, and Jeff took Hank over to the fancy McDonald's across the street, with the best view of Times Square.

After an hour in line, I walked away with three tickets to the evening's showing of "Mary Poppins"! Hang gave me a thumbs up, "Good job Mom!" And we headed to the huge M&M store excited about the evenings events.

After a little chocolate shopping, we grabbed a cab and headed back to the apartment. Jeff and Hank went inside and I headed for the local drugstore to stock up on water. As I started towards the store, I reached in my purse for my cell phone to call my mom. Hmm...couldn't feel it...rooted around a little phone! OMG! No phone!! I ran back to the apartment and dumped the contents of my purse. "Call my cell phone," I begged Jeff. Jeff dialed the phone as I waited to hear it vibrate in my purse. "Hello?" I heard Jeff say. "Are you in a cab?" He talked with the holder of my phone for a minute, and then Jeff directed the the person to give the phone to the cabbie. ""No, please ask them to hang onto it...I will come to them!" Jeff got the information and hung up. He said it was a woman named Meaghan and gave me her address. I could tell we were lucky she found my phone, since Jeff was cracking up during the whole conversation.

He told me she answered the phone by saying, "Is this Jeff?" (my phone is programmed with the callers' names) She told him, "I sat down in the cab and my butt was vibrating!" Hence Jeff's comment of "You are our people!" I took down her address, grabbed the bottle of wine we got from Dr. Siebert, and headed out the door.

I caught a cab and gave him the address on the Upper West Side. Fifteen minutes and $12 later, I arrived at the apartment building. I saw a pretty young woman with long curly strawberry-blonde hair in the lobby getting ready to go into the building. She said Hello. "Are you Meaghan?" I asked. She said she was and smiled at me. "You have my phone," I said. "Oh, perfect timing," she said and pulled out my phone. "Your children are adorable." she said pointing to the screen saver on my phone. "Thanks," I said and handed her the bottle of wine, "here's a little something to thank you for holding onto my phone." Meaghan asked why we were at NYU Medical? I explained about Hank's illness and surgery. "This is amazing," she said, "I advocate children's causes!" She explained that her friend was starting a business to help non-profits and right now was working with Children vs. Cancer.

We both instantly felt that a power much greater than ours, brought us together! Amazing! I gave her our website address, blog address and name and number. We promised to connect on Facebook (which we already have) and to join each other's causes. We said our goodbyes with not one, but two hugs, knowing that this was meant to be!

What are the odds that I would leave my phone in the cab, that THIS woman got into? And the fact that I realized it, while she was still in the cab? Then there is the fact that I had a bottle of wine (from California, no less) that was given to us by the doctor? Jeff had offered to go after the phone, but I felt that it was something that I should do... In fact, I felt compelled to go... gives me goose bumps... (miracle?)
I got back to the apartment to find Jeff and Hank involved in a killer game of Monopoly. They had worked out a deal where Jeff could only buy railroads, utilities and a select few properties. Hank also took over the job of banker, which is always Jeff's role...I was amazed to see Hank with a hotel on Boardwalk... Jeff landed on it and it was all over! There's no stopping that kid now...

We changed our clothes and headed to the theater to see "Mary Poppins". It was our first Broadway play and we were so excited to share the experience together! The theater is a small venue, but beautiful with intricate carvings, exquisite lighting and ornate fixtures everywhere you look. We were seated 18th row center...great seats for last minute! From the moment the curtain went up, we were mesmerized. Hank sat on the edge of his seat, peeking between the heads of the people in front of him. The costumes, the music, the dancing...incredible! Hank had a huge smile on his face... well, as big as a smile a kid with stitches above his lip can have... My heart swelled and the lump in my throat appeared, as I realized that at that moment, Hank had forgotten all about his illness, his surgery, his pain and everything else. He was a kid, transported to another place and time. It was truly magical!

We went and ate a late-night dinner, chatting happily about all our favorite parts of the show. We looked through our playbills, figured out which actors had which parts and just had a great time. We got back late....and Hank didn't get to sleep until 1:00 am! Neither did Jeff, which was terrible since he was getting up at 3:00!!

I got up with Jeff to say goodbye. We walked out to the lobby of the building and embraced. We said our " I love yous" and goodbye and I watched him walk across the street to catch a cab in front of the hospital. He raised his arm and a cab immediately pulled over. (3:30 in the morning and a cab is right there!) I waved as the cab pulled away and Jeff waved back. And I was swept with a wave of loneliness. Jeff had left...and I was alone in New York City with an eight year old, recovering from surgery. "Why am I crying?" I thought. "This is ridiculous...we had always planned this!" And even though my brain told me to get over it, I couldn't fight the feeling that it was now all up to me...and me alone...and we are talking really alone...

Thursday morning meant up early for the appointment with the surgeon to get the stitches out! Finally...the hateful yellow popcorn stitches were going to be gone! We arrived at Dr. Siebert's office and saw him as we stood at the counter. He flashed a big grin and a quick wave and disappeared into the exam room. We were shown into another exam room to wait. After a very short time, Dr. Siebert came in all smiles and high-fived me and then Hank. Grinning from ear-to-ear, he asked Hank, "How ya doin' big fella?" (OK, can I just say that I LOVE Dr. Siebert? He is awesome!) He and Hank talked for a minute and then he got down to the business of removing the stitches. A few hurt coming out and Hank tried unsuccessfully to keep the tears away. But only a few squeezed out between tightly-shut eyelids. He was so brave.

When they were removed Hank asked for a mirror. He was so happy to have the stitches out. Hank's face is still swollen and his eye is drooping, so he doesn't look like himself, but Hank seemed not to notice, as he was only looking at the places where the popcorn stitches had been. Dr. Siebert told me to send photos of Hank in a couple of weeks and then every 6 weeks after that. He said he would like to do the revision around Thanksgiving or Christmas (ACK!) and that he was SO pleased with the results. I asked if he felt like he got everything and he said yes. He said that he didn't think the atrophy would be back and after the revision, he would be "perfect". (Dare I jump for joy yet?)

Dr. Siebert told Hank that he could swim in a couple of weeks and resume life as normal. He asked when we were leaving New York and I reminded him that we would be staying with a family who has been through the surgery. "Oh that's right!" he said, "Take a photo of the boys together for me." He said he was happy that we were getting together and that Hank would be able to get some support from this boy who had already been through this. Big hugs and a promise to be in contact, we said good-bye for now.

I stopped in and talked to Nilsa, Dr. Siebert's assistant...I guess that's what you call her...she does it all...if you want to talk to Dr. Siebert, you call Nilsa! (Maybe she's the boss...!) I asked about the pathology reports on Hank's tissue samples and she told me she would follow up and let me know. I didn't know this, but Nilsa has been working with Dr. Siebert for eighteen years! See? I'm right...he is a great guy who surrounds himself with great people! I want to come back to NY, just to see them!

Hank and I were hungry when we left and started walking down Park Avenue in search of a Starbuck's. We walked quite a few blocks when it dawned on me, that there wouldn't be a Starbuck's on Park Avenue! Park Avenue is more commercial...doctors and dentists, lawyers and such. And the cross streets are all the expensive boutiques.... so we went over to Madison Avenue and found one in a Mall at 55th Street. The mall was a big open indoor seating area with different coffee houses surrounding it. While Hank ate his second donut and I finished my coffee, my cell phone rang. The voice on the other end was a woman that I had met through the "Romberg Connection" web site. Her son had surgery with Dr. Siebert in December with a revision in April. We had talked on the phone once before and exchanged numerous emails.

She said she was in New York and in Dr. Siebert's office! What? She said she asked Dr. Siebert how Hank was and he said, "They were just here an hour ago!" and told her to get my cell phone number from his receptionist. I told her where we were and she said they'd be right over. OK, what are the odds of this. A disease of one in 6 million...two kids who have had the same operation being in town on the same day within an hour of each other? Miracle!

Just a few minutes later, they arrived. Huge smiles on Mom, Dad and son. I felt like we were old friends instead of people who had never met. Hugs all the way around and we pulled chairs up to the table and started talking. The table buzzed with excitement! Here, Hank was having a chance to see another boy who had just been through the same surgery. And here this boy was meeting Hank and they could see they were not alone! I'm still smiling at the memory. We quickly shared our experiences as they had a train to catch. I was amazed at their son...age 13 chronologically, but really felt much older. So friendly, so nice and so intelligent. I took a photo of the boys together. Dr. Siebert will just love it! And so will Hank!! This is the first family I have met in person, who is walking on the same path that we are... And there is something about being in the presence of people who totally, completely, and whole heartedly get it. It is a bond that we share...and I feel that although we only shared less than an hour together...that we have made new friends! Divine presence...miracle.

I am elated! Hank is not only meeting one person that has been through the surgery, but two! One who just had surgery and one who is fifteen years post surgery! Wow!


Tomorrow, we take our leave of NYC, and we are more than ready! We are heading to Conneticut to spend time with this wonderful mom and her family that I know only through emails and phone conversations. And yet I feel like I have always known her. She, through her encouragement and experience, helped to convince me that this surgery was the right thing to do. And while I've been in New York, I have talked, emailed or texted with her every day. And tonight as I was freaking out about how swollen Hank's face is... she told me it's OK and to be expected. (as did my mom-friend in Ireland!)

I'm wrung out...I'm homesick...I'm exhausted...and yet I am excited...amazed and elated. Thankful and grateful are words I use every day. The blessings bestowed upon us are incredible. The friends back home who are going to be bringing over cooked meals for our family while Hank recovers and while I am gone. The moms from school who are calling themselves the "cleaning fairies" and want to come clean our house so I don't have to worry about the house when I get home and can focus on the kids... (although I will die of embarrassment if they see how gross my bathroom is...) The people who are touched by Hank's story and want to help... Our families who are helping to care for our little ones...

Surprises. Magic. Miracles.


  1. Just AWESOME, I have read and seen the hand of God work this week several times...we have a wonderful creator! All the best to you guys. =]

  2. You, my friend, are amazing. Thank you for keeping us updated! Your writing is wonderful and keeps me laughing or crying, or both, all the way through. I cannot wait to see you both when you get home! xoxoxo

  3. BTW, because I am blog-retarted, I have tried to post on here several times and unbenownst to me, they never got posted. Again, I am blog-retarted... sorry. But, know that I have been keeping up and I am thinking about you.