In his office, Tlumacki appears to have all the free time in the world. He leans back, putting his feet up on his desk, and rests the back of his hand limply on the top of his head of thinning white hair. For anyone sitting in the chair across from him, it’s hard not to match his ease. He jokes that he’ll be staying in the office late tonight and will end up driving home at 90-miles-an hour to catch the end of the New England Patriots game.
A pile of Biomechanics magazines rests in the corner of the room. Patient records, boxed and bagged, are piled high on the file cabinets. Each patient room resembles an I-Spy picture filled with items to spot: brace designs here, X-rays, plaster, and models there. Tlumacki has the hands of the construction worker and the patience of a doctor. The proof is in his work room, outfitted withwith a Singer sewing machine, a few saws, and a stack of white plastic braces. He is putting to use the skills he acquired from model building model ships as a kid.
“I like people and I like to build on funky things, so [an orthotic clinician] was a good fit,” he says. “Then you get to take that creation and stick it on someone.”
Tlumacki braces his own life with the love of his wife, twin daughters, son, and the occasional ride on his Harley. He admits the difficulty of balancing family life with life in the hospital and knows the consequences of pressure and strain when applied to bodies and bonds.