Amie and Sean had followed us home in Amie's car. They hit the door with the largest and funniest balloon hat I have ever seen. "We got you a hat!" they both exclaimed to Hank. Sean helped Hank put it on, and Hank grinned from ear to ear! I was soon to learn that this was going to be a visit full of fun and surprises, and would be the best medicine possible for Hank's recuperation.
Kyle was diagnosed at a young age, and his parents were given no options. But then they met Dr. Siebert, and their lives changed as they had met the one man who could offer them some hope. Kyle had the free-flap surgery that Hank had, when he was just 5 years old. Kyle's deterioration was severe and his facial bones were affected. Larry and Patty tell me that Kyle has endured seven surgeries through the years. Because the disease involved bone, Kyle's face would change as he grew, and then another revision would need to be done. His last major surgery was a year and a half ago, when he flew out to L.A. for facial reconstruction. It was a long and painful recovery, but you would never know that looking at him now. Kyle's face is near perfect. A little issue with the eye that will be addressed next time, but for the amount of involvement he had...it's amazing he has a face at all!
I explained Hank's surgery to Larry, Patty and Kyle. I told them how this was an intervention, rather than the reconstruction that Kyle has been through. As they listened, they were amazed at what Dr. Siebert is able to do. "You have saved this kid the numerous surgeries that Kyle went through," said Larry. And that was EXACTLY what I needed to hear!
Hank is having the time of his life and I couldn't be happier! Kyle is a volunteer fire fighter and the department had a controlled burn. We got got to see the firemen in action as the used the big hoses to put out the fire. Hank thought it was terrific!
Sean has ducks...Carlos and George. A large white Long Island Duck and a little Mallard Duck. They are best friends and cruise around the pond or waddle along the shore together. Sean introduced Hank to Carlos and Hank sat and petted, and yes...hugged the duck. Hank loves animals and can't believe his good fortune, to be surrounded by so many.
This afternoon, Hank and Sean went hunting for bait worms. They had a great time digging them up in preparation of their fishing excursion. While I stayed behind, Patty, Larry, Kyle, Sean and Mocha the dog took Hank across the way to their favorite fishing spot. Awhile later Kyle came back to report that Hank had caught a fish! And not only that, he was the only one to catch one! And then Patty came back to tell me that Hank wanted to show me the fish. He waved to me as I came down the hill. With excitement in his voice and a bright smile on his face he called to me, "Mom! I caught a fish! Come see!" He waded into the water and grabbed the line pulling up a beautiful rainbow trout! He held it up for me to see and then with Larry's help, released it back into the stream. Such a proud moment and one he will never forget!
Right now Hank is helping Sean collect kindling for the fire pit. Larry has promised him "S'mores" tonight and Hank is bound and determined to have them. He is having a great time. This is just what he needed... a chance to be a kid. Hopefully, this will be what he remembers when he thinks of this trip. I know he won't forget the surgery, or the pain of recovery. But hopefully these experiences are helping to lessen the pain. Being here reminds me of simpler times...playing in the sunshine...running around barefoot, catching frogs and fish....helping to collect firewood...roasting marshmallows...playing with ducks and dogs...