Yes, you read that right.
Hospital City (well, the staff, and some of their stuff) came here.
To The Greater Metro.
A mere twenty-three miles from our front door.
And it was sweet.
I had heard about these Hospital Road Shows. Parents of other patients would tell me stories - wonderful, almost-too-good-to-be-true stories about doctors, nurses, and yes, even O&P techs who would come to The Greater Metro, and set up shop for a day in a local hospital or clinic.
But we had never "qualified" for one of these Road Shows (more accurately called "Outreach Clinics") before. The timing was never right, and so we would miss out.
This time, everything fell together in one of those wonderful series of circumstances that I figure we will never see again.
Once Twinks was feeling better after the FM diagnosis, one of the things we noticed right away was that she was having another huge growth spurt. All I have done lately is replace clothes - pants that are suddenly too short, blouses that don't fit, even socks and underwear need to be replaced. All at once, she is growing. A good sign, obviously; it means she is healthy and stronger.
Those of you who have been riding along for a while on our little Internet Blog O' Fun already know what this means: Twinks will be needing new braces. Because, suddenly her toes are hanging off the ends of the braces. And, if you have been playing along with the home version of our game, then you know that also means that she will need new shoes as well.
Ordinarily, this means not one, but TWO trips to Hospital City. The first trip is to have the molds made that the wizards in Orthotics & Prostethics will use to custom-make the braces for Twinks. The second visit is when she tries on the raw braces, then as we wait, they "finish" them, making the final adjustments and tweaks that make walking around in these hard plastic shells actually... doable.
The whole process is fascinating, and at The Hospital there are windows into the O & P workrooms, where you can watch Big J, and Craig, and the others actually making the braces. There are rows of plaster legs, arms and torsos arranged on one wall; all carefully marked with the name of the "owner". There are all kinds of machines - some of them huge and lethal looking, others like you might find in your own garage. There are big vacuum-forming frames, for pulling the plastic tight around the molds, and making it fit just right. There are miles and miles of Velcro, in every color imaginable. There are the "transfers" that mold wild colors and patterns right in to the plastic of the braces, so that you don't have to live with boring beige "skintone" or "medical white". There are buckles and hinges and straps. Oh my!
And when it is all done, there will be a pair of braces.
Typically, this process takes anywhere from two to four weeks - depending on how heavy the workload is for O & P just then. So, one new pair of braces always equals two trips to Hospital City. Once to be molded, and the second time for the braces to be fitted, and then taken home.
Not this time.
This time, when I called Hospital City, I was all ready for Miss V to work us in to the schedule. This means missing at least two days of school; I knew that with her recent triumphant return to school that Twinks would not be happy at the thought of missing even a minute.
Miss V and I chatted for a few minutes; she was thrilled to hear about the diagnosis, and to know that Twinks was going to be OK.
I'll stop here to admit a tiny secret to you: I openly bribe the staff in O&P on a regular basis. With homebaked goodies. Miss V is particularly fond of my brownies. Craig wants the oatmeal cookies. Big J will eat pretty much anything. Every trip, every time, for a long time now... I take along a pan or a box or a bag of something that came out of the oven the night before.
When we started talking about new braces, she suddenly put me on hold - for a long time. I got a little worried, it took so long. It was worth the wait when she came back on the line. She apologized profusely, and then said the words that were like music to my ears: "I got you the last spot at Outreach next week".
:::insert HappyHappy JoyJoy Dance here:::
But the best part was that "the last spot" was actually the first appointment of the day. We had to be there at 7:30 am. Miss V actually *apologized* for the appointment being so early in the morning.
Remember, Gentle Reader, that when we travel to Hospital City, it takes us all day the day before the appointment (as in, an eight-hour drive) just to get to Hospital City. Then, we spend the night in a local hotel, get up at 5:00 am to be at The Hospital at 7:00 am when they open The Clinic, and after we are done there, we have to drive home again (another eight hours).
7:30 am? Less than 30 miles from the house? Talk about a no-brainer.
I made 48 little individual brown-sugar cinnamon crumbcakes for the staff.
Even though we did wind up getting up fairly early on Outreach day, it was still wonderful for us to wake up in our own beds, and know that about 30 minutes after we left our driveway, we would be there. And, because The Wrench works second shift, he was able to be there with us. That alone made Outreach a special treat for The Twinkster, to have Daddy there.
Rush hour traffic was still fairly light, and The Wrench was able to pilot us there several minutes early. We found where we were supposed to wait, and soon enough, some of our local Shriners showed up to help with the Clinic. Twinks flew down the hallway to greet her favorites, and gave each one a big hug. We sat chatting and catching up over coffee while we waited for the Outreach Clinic to start.
Soon enough, the team from Hospital City was there, dragging in huge wheeled tool cases that were padlocked. They started to set up, and the crumbcakes were well-received by the entire staff, just as I had hoped.
Twinks was the first kid called back.
That's when things came to a screeching halt...