Trading my patient ID bracelet for an employee ID badge

Honoring Craniofacial Acceptance Month and one young man’s quest to give back

By Torrence Chrisman

Torrence Chrisman, 24, is a history major at the University of Massachusetts Boston. At birth, Torrence was diagnosed with Apert syndrome, a rare genetic birth disorder involving abnormal growth of the skull and the face, fingers and toes. Read about his medical journey as a Boston Children’s patient and his quest to return to the hospital.

20140925_Torrence-26I came to Boston after being born in Chicago, where I was diagnosed with the amazing Apert syndrome. It was because of the doctors and surgeons at Boston Children’s Hospital that I ended up in Massachusetts. One surgeon, Dr. Joe Upton, specialized in operating on the hands of Apert patients. He swung a home run every time he entered the operating room and worked miracles with microsurgery. Dr. John Mulliken, who specialized in the craniofacial aspects of my surgeries, always had a can-do attitude and completed the surgeries with confidence.

Throughout my 22 surgeries, both doctors proved to be a godsend because they were able to minimize roadblocks that could obstruct my life. If I hadn’t come to Boston Children’s Hospital, I don’t know where or what state I would be in. What I do know is that I am forever grateful for the doctors, nurses and staff of Boston Children’s Hospital.

Over the course of my journey through the hospital, the medical experiences were at times downright nerve-racking, because having a surgery is far from simple. But the people within the hospital walls all performed with expertise and precision. The doctors and nurses were a saving grace while I recovered at the hospital. No matter if it was two in the afternoon or two in the morning, the nurses stood by their posts ready to jump whenever I needed them.

From hospital gown to business casual

20140925_Torrence-6As the years went by and the days of being an inpatient fell further behind me, I felt like I had some unfinished business. Because the level of care I received was so high, I wanted to go back and work with those same doctors.

It was their dedication, passion and commitment that inspired me to turn in my patient ID bracelets for an employee ID badge and swap out the hospital gown for business casual attire. I joined the ranks of the Plastic and Oral Surgery Department as an intern. Not once but twice.

Being fully integrated into the administrative environment, I could see firsthand what went on behind the scenes. I was able to contribute to the department and give back to the hospital. It meant a lot to me to be fully included in a real-world scenario where I am not judged by how I look, only by who I am.

Growing up with a physical uniqueness, I had added challenges than most people. Things were tough through high school. It wasn’t until I graduated from high school that I was finally able to spread my wings to their full extent. With the surgeries behind me, I went off to college, received an associate’s degree and ventured out into the world on my own. I now have my own apartment and am attending the University of Massachusetts Boston.

To this day, I am forever grateful to have received such extraordinary care and am honored to have worked at Boston Children’s with such an amazing group of people.