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Cleft-Craniofacial Community Stories

Mia’s Story

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CPF’s February 2011 Story of the Month, Mia Helms.
Mia Klovia Greene Helms

Mia Klovia Greene Helms has extraordinary eyes. It isn’t just the color, an engaging blue that might yet change to the green of the rest of her family. It’s the depth of expressiveness that makes them so extraordinary. Most of the time, Mia’s eyes proclaim, “Today is a good day, and I believe tomorrow will be even better.” When she sees a new person, her eyes usually invite, “I’m happy to meet you, friend.” They draw us all in, those eyes.

Monday evening and night, after she awoke from her palate repair surgery, Mia’s eyes were still expressive, though they were dulled somewhat by pain and meds. They mourned, “Something terrible has happened, and I don’t understand.” When a new person arrived in her overnight cubicle in the hospital, her eyes questioned, “Did you do this? Will it ever stop?”

CPF’s February 2011 Story of the Month, Mia Helms.
Mia, soon after palate repair surgery

As a technical matter, Mia’s surgery went extremely well; the surgeon said he wished all of his surgeries went as well as Mia’s, and her prognosis is excellent. Despite those piercing eyes, Mia immediately looked better than she did after her previous surgery, a less invasive but more public lip repair, because this time the action was inside her mouth. Her arms were restrained, and a web of cords leading to various pumps and measuring machines invaded and tangled her legs. A parent, mostly Wendy (whose patience and resilience continue to astound), hugged her constantly for a full day. Mia’s face, indeed her whole body, was swollen, and trails of blood escaped the corners of her mouth and dribbled toward her quivering chin, but only those hurt and mournful eyes told her full story.

When she arrived home Tuesday morning, blood oozing from both her mouth and her nose—a result of crying during the short drive home—the first thing she saw was her older sister Rachel. She exclaimed in delight, and for the first time in some 30 hours we saw a glimpse of those bubbly Mia eyes. The arrival of her older siblings, Ryan and Arwen, home from elementary school was about the only other time Mia shared the familiar eyes on Tuesday. Fortunately, Mia’s a tough one, and at only 10 months old, she’s still chock full of active embryonic stem cells that help her heal quickly. By late Wednesday, bleeding was rare, drinking breast milk had returned in force, and the profound sadness had left her once again. So sometimes those eyes shine with her usual curiosity and enchantment. And sometimes they flash, expressing her indomitable will in frustration at the pain, or in irritation at the food she can’t yet share, or disgust with the “No-No” arm restraints that keep her hands from her wounds and from other mischief she wishes to make.

CPF’s February 2011 Story of the Month, Mia Helms.
“What fun this will be!”

At just over four days since the surgery, we’re again amazed at how quickly she heals, both body and spirit. The pain is clearly much lessened and the meds reduced. Eating and sleeping are easier, though not yet back to normal. Meanwhile, her captivating personality has almost completely reasserted itself. It’s going to be an interesting couple of weeks pitting her will against those arm restraints, even if she is delightfully cute as she stiff-arm scoots across the floor to her target of the moment, eyes glowing, “What fun this will be!”

By Russ Helms, 2010-04-15
Copyright Russ Helms

Last Updated: Feb 7, 2011