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Perfect – Mika Thorlakson

You wouldn’t think by looking at him now, but at one point in my son’s life, he couldn’t wear sunglasses. They would always fall off or shake loose, and if he did finally get them to stay on for a bit, they would inevitably be somewhat askew (at one point, I even thought about trying some duct tape!).

You may wonder why a kid would have trouble wearing sunglasses.

So to satisfy your curiosity, all that was required was a quick glance and you likely would have noticed that Gradin only had ONE ear!

Our son was born with a condition called “microtia,” which is a congenital deformity where the external ear does not fully develop (microtia literally means “little ear”). In conjunction with microtia, he did not have an ear canal and no opening with which to hear.

I still remember when I met him for the first time – it seemed to be a perfect combination of joy and heartache. In every other aspect, he was absolutely perfect…except for the ear.

I am sure you could imagine the litany of worries that ran through our heads. Was there something seriously wrong? What will people think when they see him? Will they make fun of him?

After a series of doctor visits and numerous tests, our worst fears were laid to rest and the official diagnosis was “microtia.”

Now what?

My wife and I became “microtia” experts in the years to come. And as Gradin grew up, he too became an expert! He knew all of his options, and being that it was his ear, we let him make the decision regarding what and when to do something.

To be honest, I thought he would live his life just as he was, one normal ear and one “little ear.”

When someone would stare at him or point to him, he always seemed to handle it so well; he even devised a story about his ear telling kids that a crocodile had bit it off! Unfortunately, that type of grit was whittled away over time and at the tender age of six, Gradin decided it was time for a new ear.

Four trips to Utah and two to Minneapolis, covering a time span of 2.5 years, resulted in a brand new ear with the ability to hear in surround sound.

As I sit here and type, I cannot help reading over that last sentence. I have probably done so about 20 times. Each time, I think about a sacrifice that was made, a memory from the trip, the unbelievable amount of help that we have received – and all for a kid who was already perfect!

You should see him now… rarely without a smile, happy-go-lucky, highly intelligent and always willing to lend a hand or a hug. He has become the version of himself that HE visualized.

I often help him with his hair in the morning and occasionally he will ask, “How do I look dad?”

My response is always the same, “You are perfect son.” To which he automatically replies, “There is no such thing as perfect, you just have to try your best!” Life lessons from a nine year old.

And in case you are wondering, he has a new pair of sunglasses and they fit perfectly!

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Posted:April 7, 2017

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