4/13 - Mom and Nick's Excellent Adventure Part 2

OK, sorry to leave everyone (who was reading this blog between the hours of 11pm Sunday and 11am Monday, but I found my journal, so I’m ready to finish our story from last week. Mom’s and my (I can’t decide if that’s grammatically correct…) last errand was to meet with a prosthetist at Hanger Prosthetics. While waiting in the, um, waiting room, a video played and it gave us a glimpse of what Hanger can do. It showed four different kinds of mechanized/computerized knees, for all sorts of different types of activities/people. Very impressive. Fortunately, Jamie doesn’t need knees, so this doesn’t really apply to her, but still, it made me hopeful that things could be done for her ankles and fingers.

The prosthetist we met with was a wonderful man named James (he goes by Jamie!) Peroni. [By the way, if it sounds like we’ve already decided to go with Jamie, you’re right. We love this guy, Dr. Lin-style.] The first thing you notice about Jamie… er… this isn’t going to work…. The first thing you notice about JP is that he’s a warm, welcoming guy and dispels any of that uncomfortable air that usually exists between patient and practitioner (see, e.g., Dr. Foot Doctor). He’s frank, funny and direct. I loved that about him. The second thing you may notice is that he was born without a right hand. Mom, JP and I spoke for a while about his childhood and the effects of having being an amputee his whole life. He was raised to believe that he was no different than his brothers, and his parents taught him to figure his own way through problems. Now, he’s near the top of his profession, pioneering new technologies and working with his idols in the profession. Basically, I think he kicks ass.

JP made Hanger sound like the kind of place you want to form a long term relationship with. This is great news, because he also made it clear that he’s not the kind of prosthetist (and Hanger isn’t the kind of business) that will simply give their patients/clients (still not sure about this terminology either) a prosthesis and then not see them again until they need a replacement in 4 years. JP told a few anecdotes about how he’ll fit someone with a prosthetic on Day 1, call to see how it feels on Day 3, come visit you on Day 4, and ask you to come back for a refitting on Day 6. He’s in this for Jamie and wants her to live a great life, not just live on a great prosthetic.

After everything was said and done, the three of us spoke for almost two hours. We covered Hanger’s relationships with other prosthetic manufacturers and with St. David’s hospital. We’ll be talking a lot about prosthetics in the future, and we do have a lot to talk about, but JP gave us hope on so many levels that its hard to talk about them all. I asked, hesitatantly, if Jamie will be able to dance once she’s fitted and living with prosthetics. He said, “Why wouldn’t she?” She’ll be able to run, jump, dance, whatever… She won’t be too good at it at first, but she’ll get there. Also, we talked about the wonderful relationship that Hanger enjoys with BAMC (Brook Army Medical Center) in San Antonio. Hanger’s upper-limb prosthetics division was moved from California because the government wanted them to be close to BAMC. Or maybe they were moved to San Antonio and then became part of Hanger… either way, Jamie will have access to the newest types of upper limb prosthetics available. This means that we’re not closing the door on her being able to have fingers again one day, and it sounds like Hanger isn’t and will never close any door to Jamie. Really, I can’t wait to work with these people.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got to say about our trip to Austin. Very successful and we learned a lot of great info. There’s more to tell, an d I’ll tell you later in due course. Ttfn.