Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Little N's First Year, Part 9: Dr. Martin's Prognosis and more

Driving to the plastic surgery office that morning was more nervewracking than ever. I'd done the drive at least 6 times before, but this time I had an extreme sense of urgency, and also of fear. After discovering the hole, or fistula, in his palate just two days before, I kept trying to get a look in his mouth occasionally, just to see if I was dreaming the first time. I wasn't. The hole was still there. And every time I saw it, the most horrible feelings came over me.

Luckily there was no wait and we got Little N right away to see Dr. Martin. He had a few other surgeons with him, something he had never done before. I guess they wanted to see this fistula for themselves. Dr. Martin took a look, saw the hole, and said, "Well, that's definitely a hole. I am surprised, because of all the surgeries I've done, I've never seen this happen. I see holes from patients of other surgeons and often correct them, but I've never seen one from my own surgery."

I about died. Did he really just say that our Little N shattered his perfect surgery record? So not only were we in that 1% of patients that ends up having a fistula, but we were also his very FIRST patient to have one after one of his surgeries. Couldn't be worse news, I thought.

So I began to ask him if it was true that the holes got smaller over time. If he could still eat regular foods. And the dreaded question, if he would need another surgery to correct it. He said indeed, the holes do get smaller over time, and often will completely heal on their own. He said Little N should be treated like a regular baby and eat any foods he wants. And as far as another surgery, that was to be determined. He asked me to come back every 6 weeks to see if the hole was decreasing in size. But he did give me some good news...because the hole was in the hard palate, just below the bridge of the nose, the bone would help the hole heal better and prevent major speech delays. If the hole were in the soft palate, it would not heal as well and could even cause speech issues. Well, that was something to get my hopes up, at least.

But there was still one more thing nagging at me, and I just had to know...that bread that got stuck on the palate, that didn't dissolve quickly enough. I asked, very timidly, if that caused the hole. His answer right away was no, not at all. He couldn't imagine that creating a hole. So I could let go of the guilt I was feeling, too. But to this day, I still wonder if he said that just to make me feel better. I honestly don't think he even knows how the hole happened...he is such a good surgeon.

So every 6 weeks, I faithfully brought Little N to Dr. Martin. And each time I would hear him say that the fistula was getting smaller. And my worries began to subside once again. In November, he told me to bring him back in 4 months and at that point they would determine whether he would need another surgery to fix the small hole. A surgery for the fistula would be much less severe and recovery would be a breeze compared to the first one, he assured me. So on March 17th, I take him in to find out if my summer will include another surgery for Little N. The hole is still there, but about the size of a pencil tip now. It's not getting smaller anymore, and it hasn't since about December. But I am hopeful that this summer I can enjoy my Little N.

Other than that, he is doing just great. He started walking at about a year old, is starting to say many words despite the fistula, is very social and happy, and also very stubborn and determined. I couldn't be happier to be his mom, and his older siblings couldn't be happier to have him as a brother. We love him more than words can say.

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