A Crown for Kathrina: Kathrina Goes Home (Part 5)


She leaves Children’s Hospital wearing a device that will slowly move her cheekbones and jaw forward a fraction at a time.

Dr Hopper stops by to show parents Paul and Tamara how to adjust the device, turning four screws in her skull twice a day, for the next three months.

“It’s not as painful as it looks,’ he said. “It works incredibly well, it’s very safe for what it does and it gives very reliable results,” said Dr. Hopper.

It seems like a lot of movement, but it’s not.

“Now what’s happened is that her cheekbone has moved one-half of a millimeter,” said Dr. Potter.

A half millimeter at a time, one millimeter a day, day by day.

The handful of children who have worn this device say it’s really less painful than having braces.

As the Goodwins head for their car, it is with apprehension and mixed feelings.

“It’s exciting to go home, but a little bit nervous. Glad to be able to go and sleep in our own beds, try to live a more normal live,” said Tamara.

Kathrina is out of the hospital, but not out of the woods.

“She’s still essentially undergoing the operation because we still have the device on. We’re still moving her face forward, but at the same time it’s good if she can return to a normal life,” said Dr. Potter.

At home, it doesn’t take Kathrina long to bounce back to a normal life. As home movies show, her new device, her crown, isn’t slowing her down.

“You see her barreling down the hallway and she’s not the most graceful runner, you know, arms flailing, and you think she’s going to tip over and she never does. And she doesn’t seem to be in fear of anything,” said Paul.

Following doctors orders, Tamara diligently turns the screws of Kathrina’s device, twice daily, once in the morning, once before bed.

The Goodwins are already seeing positive results from the surgery. One of the biggest benefits - Kathrina is breathing easier. She’s stopped snoring.

“As I said earlier she sounded like an old dog at night when she slept, but now you don’t hear her at all,” said Paul.

Determined to have her daughter live as normal a life as possible, Tamara takes her daughter everywhere, including the grocery store and the park, where Kathrina doesn’t even notice the long looks from other children. All she wants to do is play.

Times passes, while Kathrina counts the days until her crown comes off.

During one of her twice-weekly visits to Children’s Hospital, Kathrina learns she’s dong so well, her crown will come off early. In a week, it will be removed. As a reward, she’s been promised pierced ears. Not to be outdone, Paul also makes a promise to his daughter � he will shave off his mustache.

Taking the crown off will be relatively simple compared with what Kathrina’s already experienced. The entire procedure, including the pierced ears, will take all of 45 minutes.

The atmosphere in the OR is much less tense than it was a few months ago. If not for Kathrina’s young age, the procedure could have been done as an office visit.

The only reminders of Kathrina’s crown are two tiny marks that will disappear in time. A more permanent souvenir is one she wanted: pierced ears. And who better to pierce Kathrina’s ears than a top surgeon who personally escorts her back to mom.

A groggy Kathrina is reunited with her family and for the first time they get an unobstructed view of how she has changed as a result of the surgery and the crown.

Almost overnight, Kathrina has lost that baby-look.

“All of a sudden, she’s going through three or four years of aging in a couple of weeks. and I think that’s one of the things Kathrina’s mother is noting. That her beautiful daughter is looking older,” said Dr. Hopper.

« Part 4: A Long Day of Surgery | » Part 6: A Bubbly Little Girl With a Bright Future