A toast, indeed.
What are we toasting? A toast to a possible snow day tomorrow. A toast to the home I am still as excited to wake up in as the day we moved in. A toast to my little Emily who giggles happily whenever I make faces at her. A toast to my wife who laughed until her stomach hurt after I told her that as a child I used to wipe boogers on the wall behind my bed. (It's true. And gross. Don't judge me.)
But most importantly, I am toasting optimism. I know, it goes against almost everything we here at The Gray Area stand for, but we are talking about real, shiny, giddy optimism. Little Orphan Annie-level optimism. The first feeling of optimism I've felt since my daughter was two hours old and the doctor sat down in front of us with a pile of vague information and a concerned look.
Last week, Kate started calling doctors in search of second, third and fourth opinions regarding Emily's leg. Since her diagnosis, people have come out of the woodwork to recommend a doctor, point out a helpful resource, share a similar experience or just to say a prayer. In our research, we came across a Dr. Dror Paley who founded a limb lengthening facility in Baltimore. He is an expert in PFFD. It's his life's work. People travel from all over the globe for his help with this condition. And everyone says the same thing...he's good. Very, very good.
Unfortunately, Dr. Paley is no longer taking new patients as he is moving to Orlando in June. He's starting a new facility at the Disney Children's Hospital. Of course, he is leaving behind a capable team that has trained with him for years. We will be in good hands if Maryland is where we choose to be.
Then he called.
Dr. Paley, upon receiving an e-mail from Kate, called her from his cell phone at 7 PM on his way home from work.
That part deserves its own paragraph. What doctor, let alone one considered to be a worldwide leader in any field, calls prospective patients whom he doesn't even know on his way home from work on a Friday???
Kate was supposed to be at work, but decided her co-workers could do without her for a few minutes while she sat in the parking garage and discussed little Emily.
Dr. Paley asked for information about our daughter. He listened. He gave his opinion. He outlined a treatment program. He admitted it's a little hectic at the clinic these days, could you just come in on a Saturday? The office will be closed, but I'll meet you there and we'll talk about the possibilities for Emily's care.
I will probably save Kate's voicemail forever. She was as excited as I've ever heard her. It was not the forced positivity that many of us have expressed these last few months. There was excitement and enthusiasm and, finally, confidence. Confidence that we can do this.
We can do this.
This will not be a walk in the park. All procedures will take place at Paley's new hospital in Florida. A week for "super-hip" surgery at age two. Lengthening surgeries with four months of daily, painful rehab at ages four, eight and 12.
But, for the first time in months, I have this unshakeable feeling. It's almost overwhelming.
We can do this.
She can do this.
And, I think...I hope....HE can do this.