Friday, July 31, 2015

Hand-written Thank You Notes....even from the texting generation! Mentorship, and thanks for the whole team.

After finishing up a day in surgery or in clinic, it is always a great joy to find a hand-written note from one of our patients on my desk.  This week I've received a couple of notes shown below -- one from Alex, a 20 yo gentleman from Venice, Florida who had a fairly severe kyphosis that I straightened out for him back in May.  He is heading off to medical school next week! His note is encouraging, since as many of you know, I was inspired to be a surgeon because of my own experience as a patent as a teenager.  I was helped by an orthopedic surgeon who literally gave me my life and my leg and my ability to walk back.  I spend time each week mentoring medical and pre-med students helping them to truly consider how they should take care of the whole person, and whole family, and not just think about diagnoses, procedures, and "cases."  

Sometimes this inspiration happens for patients like Alex as well.  Another postop teenager named Cedar, from Asheville, NC told me this week in clinic that she now wants to be a surgeon,  after I fixed her severe scoliosis a year ago...  Perhaps these 2, and maybe others will help take my place some day when I  retire.  However, God willing, I am not planning to retire anytime soon.  Like my mentor, Dr. John Hall at Boston Children's Hospital, it would be my great joy to keep serving as a scoliosis surgeon for many years to come.  Dr. Hall finally retired at age 80, after 3 Harvard retirement dinners, and I believe his wife finally putting down the final ultimatum!  

My hope is that I can hire a few younger surgeons in the years to come, and share what I've learned through my experience caring for many children, adolescents and adults with spinal deformity using successful conservative treatments in the clinic, as well as surgical treatments in the operating room.   Passing on this learning and wisdom should help keep Hey Clinic going, and growing and improving for many years to come, with excellence.  

20 yo Alex and his mom May 2015 after kyphosis surgery

Here is the note from Alex:  Dr. Hey, I wanted to express my thanks again to you and your awesome team; having you fix me up has done me a lot of good not only physically but psychologically as well.  I am getting ready to start medical school next week, and I can't tell you how much this experience has helped me define where I want to take my career.  You have been a great role model for me, even if our time spent in person has been brief.  Talk to you soon, and God bless you and yours.  Alex"

13 yo Kristin's note was inspired and completely written out by her alone, which was accompanied by a collection of fresh chocolate-covered strawberries and apples that we were able to share with the entire Hey Clinic staff yesterday afternoon.  
Her note reads: 
"Dear Dr. Hey, Thank you so much for fixing my spine and taking care of me during my recovery in the hospital.  I would also like to give thanks to the nurses who helped me handle my pain, helped me sit up, and walk.  I feel little to no pain at all.  :)  -- Kristin"
Kristin, we will be sure to pass along your thanksgiving to the Duke Raleigh Hospital nurses and physical therapists and occupational therapists who helped you!  There were actually quite a few people who helped you even during your surgery while you were asleep who are also a key part of our team.  I will thank them as well.  After my severe leg injury and 3 month hospitalization, I actually made several trips back to the hospital floor and visited the nurses and therapist to just say thanks and to show them that I was actually starting to walk again.  I also shared with them how their compassionate care helped me to get through a very dark valley of my life, and inspired me to become a doctor some day.  

So let's face it:  we're not just X-Raying, measuring, bracing, and straightening up crooked spines here to prevent heart and lung compression and/or pain and disability now or later in life.  We are interacting with very special, developing human beings -- who are quite impressionable.  If we handle this whole experience with your child, adolescent or adult loved one well, they not only end up with the desired CLINICAL result, but PSYCHOLOGICAL, EMOTIONAL and WHOLE LIFE DEVELOPMENTAL and INSPIRATIONAL result that may have a huge impact on their life as they grow up and choose to serve someday.  That's the kind of personalized "signature care" we have been seeking to gradually perfect over many years now with our whole team.  

And that is when we get the hand-written thank you note that makes our day.

Thank you Alex and Kristin for taking the time to send in a thank you note.  It is so encouraging for me and for our whole team.  Each guest and their family is precious to me, and to our entire clinic and hospital staff, both at Duke Raleigh Hospital, and WakeMed Children's Hospital,  and these notes really help us to keep pressing on to serve better and better over time.

Lloyd A. Hey, MD MS
Hey Clinic for Scoliosis and Spine Surgery

Let us know if we can be of any help for a second opinion regarding conservative (including bracing) vs. surgical treatment for your child, adolescent, or adult loved one.  Our team is ready to help in a non-rushed, no pressure, highly educational way.  There is an easy link on our home page to send in an appointment request.

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