Having had pain in my arm and hand for the last 8 months, and not having found permanent relief, I decided to finally see my spine specialist, Dr. John Lonstein, to see if it had to do with my Klippel-Feil syndrome. But when I called to make an appointment, I found that he had finally retired. It was not a surprise, he is is probably my parent's age, but I was hoping to see him again one last time. I'm not sure why. Maybe just a feeling of accomplishment on our part, that I survived and didn't have to have spine surgery. Something that neither of us wanted, knowing the danger of such a drastic step.
I wonder if pediatric doctors think about their patients. Do they worry about them? Do they doubt themselves? Do they wonder how their patients are as they grow up and are no longer needing their services?
I was always afraid of doctors. Afraid that I would have to have yet another surgery. Lonstein was from South Africa, so he had a strong accent that I couldn't understand, so my mom was the interpreter for me. I hated the doctoral students standing there in a clump, looking at me like an animal in a zoo, with their clipboards clutched to their chests, not saying a word.
I feel bad now about what an unpleasant patient I must have been. I know I was just a scared little kid, but I hope that Lonstein knows that I turned out OK. I managed to learn to drive, graduate college, have a career, and live on my own. It may not seem like much to others, but to me, it was a miracle.
A miracle made possible partly by Dr. John Lonstein. He saved my life, and made it livable. Thank you.