Charlotte is going back to school for the first time this year. She popped out of bed bright and early today, eager to get started. She wore a new headband and some concealer over her scars. We will update you later today to let you know how her first day went.
Yesterday, Charlotte had another first! She enjoyed the ballet live for the first time. The Grand Rapids Ballet Company and students of the Grand Rapids Ballet School welcomed Charlotte backstage before and after their performance of “The Nutcracker.”
The Grand Rapids Ballet Company was generous to invite Charlotte to the performance along with three family members for the show. Her dad and brother stayed home, and she was joined by mom Sharon, sister-in-law Amber, and niece Aurora for a girls afternoon outing.
The stars of the performance were very sweet to Charlotte, welcoming her to check out their costumes, shoes and props. She met with the Nutcracker Prince (Stephen Sanford), the Sugar Plum Fairy (Rachael Riley) and Clara (Matisen Douglas). Charlotte is eager more than ever to explore dancing, and we will begin looking at schools in our neighborhood to give her this opportunity.
Enjoy a gallery of photos from the outing on MLive.com by photographer Chris Clark, http://photos.mlive.com/4469/gallery/charlotte_ponce_goes_backstage_at_the_nutcracker/index.html.
Charlotte’s final major nose surgery was successfully completed today and she is excited to come home tomorrow. While she may have a few minor surgeries (“revisions” as Dr. Chaiyasate calls them) early next year, we don’t anticipate ear reconstruction until next spring/early summer.
Beaumont tweeted live updates this morning and many Twitter users offered support using the hashtag #healingcharlotte.
- Royal Oak Patch, FROM BEAUMONT: Charlotte Ponce Surgery ‘Went Very Well’
- mLive.com, Follow Charlotte Ponce’s operation on Twitter: Live tweets document last major operation on nose
- Royal Oak Daily Tribune, Girl attacked by raccoon undergoes 5th facial surgery
- Oakland Press, Girl attacked by raccoon has 5th surgery, completes nasal reconstruction WITH VIDEO
Tomorrow at 8:30 AM, Charlotte is scheduled to complete her final major nose surgery. The flap which connects her forehead to the transplanted nose skin will be removed and some minor modifications will be made to the nasal structure.
Despite slower than anticipated healing of Charlotte’s forehead, where the skin for her nose was grafted from, we no longer expect that additional skin grafts will be needed to correct this. The skin should eventually heal with minimal scarring and she will wear bandages until the open wounds will heal.
Charlotte, as ever, is just holding up super during this difficult time. She is eager to complete the process and despite what must be tremendous pain, she is optimistic and goofy as ever. We are so blessed that she has such a positive outlook despite such adverse situations.
Beaumont will be doing a live twitter feed updating her progress throughout the surgery. You can follow along and share your support using the hashtag #healingcharlotte. Follow the feed online at: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23healingcharlotte&src=typd
I know we’ve thanked you before, but we can never thank enough the people who have followed Charlotte’s progress throughout this reconstruction and have showed their overwhelming support. We know that Charlotte is special, and the fact that so many that don’t know her personally have also developed an attachment and love for this brave little girl is so heartwarming and helps her and her family make it through it.
Charlotte is doing quite well since her last surgery, where the surgeon finished the majority of the work on her lips and slimmed down her nose. The two weeks between the last two surgeries was by far the most difficult for Charlotte. She had to abstain from solid foods, drinking protein drinks, applesauce and yogurt through a straw.
Her lips were swollen for a few days after the most recent surgery, making it difficult for her to eat for yet a few more days, but by Thanksgiving, she was able to enjoy the meal with her family. As we sat around the table and shared the things we were thankful for, Charlotte was thankful, “That the raccoon didn’t kill her and that she is still alive today.”
We are thankful for all of the love and support that Charlotte has received throughout this process. We aren’t sure how we would have made it happen without the generosity of friends, family and strangers. It was a very humbling Thanksgiving for the Ponce family.
Charlotte went back today to have a stint in her nostrils removed before her next surgery later this week, which is slotted to be the final major one on her nose. Because of slower than anticipated healing of her forehead (where they grafted skin to build her nose), she is likely to have significant scarring. So, in about three months, she should be back at Beaumont for a skin graft to help with her forehead. Additionally, she will have some fat injected into her right cheek, which lays flat since the attack compared to her left cheek, which was untouched. She still has some hairs on her nose from the graft on her forehead, and she may have to have electrolysis to remove them at a later date.
It is amazing to look at photos of Charlotte from before she started surgeries and to realize how quickly she has undergone this major transformation. We are looking forward to the day when all is done, but being thankful and making the most of each day from now until then.
Happy holidays to all of you, and may you be safe and joyful during this season!
Many of you may be following the posts that Sharon has been putting on Charlotte’s Facebook page. She is home, doing well, considering the frustration at being unable to eat or communicate very well.
Always a little defiant, Charlotte insists on drinking through a straw instead of being fed with a giant syringe. She has been drinking Carnation instant breakfast and liquid yogurt and applesauce through a straw.
She goes back on Friday for a surgery on her lips, and she’ll have a brand new smile. They’ll also do some work on her nose, she’s only expected to be in the hospital until Sunday after this. On the 30th, she’ll have her final nose surgery.
She still wants to get her ear next summer, and it’s completely her choice. She’s bold and brave and wants this all over with.
- Charlotte Ponce adapts to ‘new normal,’ heads into 3rd major surgery
- http://mediacenter.tveyes.com/downloadgateway.aspx?UserID=42730&MDID=1278627&MDSeed=9118&Type=Media 5PM segment with Alicia Smith on patient Charlotte Ponce and Beaumont Children’s Hospital surgeon Kongkrit Chaiyasate
- http://mediacenter.tveyes.com/downloadgateway.aspx?UserID=42730&MDID=1278620&MDSeed=9240&Type=Media Noon segment with Alicia Smith on patient Charlotte Ponce and BCH surgeon Kongkrit Chaiyasate
- Robert Ortlieb posted -“West Michigan girl undergoes third surgery to reconstruct nose” on Beaumont website: http://www.beaumont.edu/west-michigan-girl-undergoes-third-surgery-reconstruct-nose-lip-chaiyasate
Charlotte is praying the windy, wet weather subsides today so that she can go trick or treating. Her next surgery is Friday (Nov 2), so her parents don’t want her outside in bad weather with a chance of catching a cold or flu before her next surgery.
She is planning to be a “batterina” – part bat, part ballerina. We will be sure to post photos, rain or shine.
In other news, Charlotte is receiving tutoring 4 days per week. She is working hard with a goal of reading and performing mathematics at a 4th grade level to be prepared for her eventual return to the classroom.
Charlotte’s recent checkups have gone well, infection-free and healing according to plan. The skin from her forehead used to cover her nose structure contains some of the hairline, so we’re curious how much longer her nose will be fuzzy. It’s kind of cute, but Charlotte would be happy to see the hairs go. The doctor and Charlotte have also decided to proceed this fall with Charlotte’s lip reversal. After the surgery, Charlotte will not be able to eat solids and will need to use a straw while her lips heal.
Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers.