Last Halloween, my toddler son Leo had his seventh and final surgery to remove a giant mole on his back. Yet the endpoint of his surgical odyssey didn’t seem real. We’ve been going to see his surgeon, Dr. Charles Thorne, every few weeks since then so he could monitor how the scar was healing. No wonder it has been so hard to believe our medical journey was over.
In fact, for nearly two years--like clockwork--we’ve been hustling to the plastic surgeon’s office at New York University Hospital each Wednesday to snag the first appointment. (I don’t want to think about how much money that amounts to in cab fare!) We developed a familiar routine: We’d pile into a taxi outside of our house at 12:20 p.m., and, as if on cue, Leo would start yelling “Brooklyn Bridge!” As the taxi neared the hospital, Leo looked for the “Muddy” to give the driver. When the car pulled up to the curb, he’d bounce out of the cab and run for the elevator in the hospital lobby. (Today Leo startled the security guard as he buzzed by like Roadrunner.) Once the elevator doors opened on the 8th floor, Leo would bolt down the corridor, making a beeline for the doctor’s office. And then he started asking for his “pop” from Dr. Thorne’s wonderful receptionist Diana. Leo would be on a sharp lookout for Dr. Thorne until he emerged from surgery. At times he even followed Dr. Thorne into other patient exams.
Keeping a toddler busy in a doctor’s office is a huge challenge. In the beginning, we brought toys, cars, and food. Later we wised up and hauled along a mini-DVD player so Leo could watch the Wiggles. But typically when it was our time to see the doctor, the fun part was over, and the poking, prodding, and injecting began.
Today was different. Today is the day Dr. Thorne discharged Leo from his weekly care. When he told us that he’d only need to see Leo annually so he could monitor the scar’s development, I had a hard time not bursting out in tears.
It’s really over. The fat lady has sung.