Handan Karamanlı / İstanbul (Yaş: 23)
Lengthening Nail Procedure:
I was very excited to learn that I would be the lucky patient who would be the first in the world to be treated with an external limb lengthening procedure.
Though I am a person who cares so much for herself, I also knew very well the extent of my shortcomings. My beloved leg: thank you for teaching me to love myself. You were with me in those times when I needed you to help me appreciate my shortcomings and realize how much I needed to love what belonged to me. It meant that despite the difficulties you gave me with standing, to learn to appreciate you, and also to do so amidst indescribable suffering. But because of the price you paid due to this suffering, it stopped you from giving up on me. Also I had not given much importance to you in my childhood as you were so close, yet so far from me. I always gave childish answers on your behalf and justified your existence. Although seeing your existence, I am the only one who was dealing with an absence in her life. What you taught me is that "everything we pay the price for has a value". And I paid the price very heavily for you, which is why you are something I could never give up on.
This is my story. Actually it is our story. The story of a 5-year-old child overcoming incredible suffering. The story of a child playing on the balcony of her home, who thanks to a freak jumping motion, would experience incredible suffering for the next twenty years. Passing through a period of not even learning to climb trees with my friends, I came to age 25, and in the 20 years leading up to it, dealt with hospitals, doctors, and being carried, my mother's tears burning my heart. And probably I am the kind of child who gave her mother the most grief growing up: a girl who's mother cursed herself but tried not to show it, all the time instilling hope in her child.
I know that I had to content myself with the fact that my leg was left 12 centimeters too short and that I would not be able get back those 20 years that had been taken from me. However, I think that I have learned so well over the past 20 years the meaning of what hope is. With all I learned from my mother through the pain she didn't show me, through the times she held my hand tightly, to take away my burning frustration, she showed me how to endure. I learned to be hopeful and to live with hope during these 20 years.
And I did not give up the hope of finding a solution. Dr. Kucukkaya was lighting a path for a person who was searching for hope to turn her life as a young woman into one of normalcy. To offer a new sense of hope for my mother, for me and for those around me who had been loving me during those 20 years. The doctor told me in our first appointment that treatments for leg discrepancies had been successfully done for people as young as children to as old as 40 years old. I was then excited to learn that I would be the lucky patient to undergo the lengthening nail procedure in the world. I said, "I'm in!" with absolute confidence, knowing about the successful surgeries that my doctor has completed before, and expressing my desire to have this operation. I had a successful operation on June 6th, 2011 and we reached the lengthening goals millimeter by millimeter. The changes continued throughout the therapy period. I was thinking that if the period were shorter that everything would happen faster. I believed that everything related to my leg and my life would come together faster. And it happened this way. It was a huge victory in my life. I extended my leg millimeter by millimeter and today it's the same length as my other leg.
I can never go back to the time when I was 5 years old. I also can't deny what all the people who love me went through and had to endure. The hurt that this 26-year-old woman feels now for the childish mistakes of a 5-year-old child has passed. I think that all the things I went through before gave me something, and of course showed me the true love that was surrounding me. Maybe I did suffer. But I also know that many people will not experience the depth of love I felt in those years.
The treatment ended a 20-year period of suffering in a very short time. And 20 years later, I can now clearly see the sea of love existing in my life which I often did not notice in the past. Should I thank Dr. Kucukkaya, the doctor who gave me a bright future? I shouldn't. I think it lessens the impact of what he did to thank him. I think that regaining my dignity is the main result of his efforts and his labor, carried out with love and respect, and always with a smile, that will last me until the end of my life. And that I could be so happy. I'm very happy I met you, Dr. Kucukkaya...