Today, I decided to write about something that happened in the past and how a negative experience taught me a postive lesson. Several years ago my oldest daughter had an accident that caused her to end up in the hospital having surgery.
My girls and I were getting ready to leave to go to a friends house. My daughter forgot something inside and asked to get it. If you knew me last year, you would laugh at the irony of that night. I was always complaining or frequently yelling when we were running late or the kids were not ready (still working on this, but I am so much better than I used to be). This particular night however, I was calm as a cucumber. She said “Time me, see how long it takes for me to get back”. I quickly agreed to set a timer.
She ran in to the house, grabbed her iPad and came back out the door. As she ran through the yard, she slipped. I thought she fell on her rear end. I waited a few seconds and she didn’t get up. I opened the door and she calmly said “I think I broke my ankle”. I said “Surely not”. She then screamed, “I THINK I BROKE MY ANKLE!”.
Something in her voice ignited a fire in me, I picked up my 12 year old, carried her up the stairs and placed her on the couch. As soon as I looked at her leg, I knew something was wrong. I grabbed the scissors and cut her sock off ( I heard about this for months- HER FAVORITE SOCKS).
When we arrived at the emergency room, the physician immediately told us it was broken. I called my son to let him know and then tried to comfort my daughter. Watching her cry was an awful experience. The doctor and nurses were fantastic. They medicated her and quickly had her in an ambulance.
My husband and I followed the ambulance to Rolla. My son stayed with my youngest and made sure she was taken care of. In Rolla we had to make a decision of whether to transfer to St. Louis or keep her there. The ER physician was so informative and sensitive to our emotions. She was wonderful. We opted to keep her in Rolla.
That was the longest night if my life. No matter how much pain medication they gave her, she was still hurting. There is nothing worse than not being able to help your child. She cried, I cried. The next morning the surgeon came in to talk to us. He was great, he addressed her like an adult. I really appreciated the way he talked to her as well as with us. Soon she was in the operating room.
My husband and I sat in the waiting room thinking about everything the surgeon had said. He informed us that is was a bad break, not only were both bones broken, one was in little pieces and her ankle was dislocated. He said he would do the best he could do. There were so many thoughts running through my mind. Did we make the right decision? Should we have transferred her? What if he could not piece the bones back together? What if she never healed correctly? It was a long couple of hours.
After what seemed like an eternity, the nurses came in and updated us. The surgery had went well and she would be up in her room soon. The next three days were spent trying to control her pain, get her up and moving and learning to use crutches. During this time she got presents and many well wishes. A lot of people wanted to visit, I was reluctant. I did not want her to get worn out, since the pain was so much worse when she was tired. She did have some visitors though. Her brother came to visit everyday, it touched my heart to see him hurting because she was hurting. My youngest came to visit also, it was moving to see how much concern they had for her (sometimes with all the bickering, you forget they actually love each other!).
She also had some brief visits from an aunt, a cousin, a grandma and her best friends. Although I was completely worried that she would be too tired, she was happy to see them. It was nice to see her smile. I cannot begin to express how grateful I am for all the fantastic health care workers who care for her from beginning to end and for everyone who showed their love for her by calling, sending gifts and visiting.
She finally did make it home. Her other grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles came to check in on her frequently and let us borrow a wheelchair in case she got tired. We rearranged furniture, my husband installed a new shower head and gave up his bed for over a week so I could sleep next to her. Soon she was back at school and using those crutches like a champ. The teachers, principal and other staff at the school helped her figure out how to get where she needed to on time. Her friends helped her with her books, her brother and grandma were always available to give her a ride home when I could not.
After some time passed, the cast came off and she was able to walk with a boot. Finally the boot was able to come off too- this was only with gentle persuasion of the surgeon, because mom was scared to death! What if she fell on it again? What if her leg was not strong enough yet? What if it got rebroken? WHAT IF? Finally we took our final visit to the surgeons office and her leg was healed. She was cleared to resume sports and participate in any activities we were comfortable with.
It took me a long time to get over that experience (even though it was not my leg). In fact, at least once or twice a week you will still hear me say “Be careful, don’t hurt her leg”. Even though I am still “traumatized”, she seems to be just fine. Looking back, it is amazing the strength that comes from having your family and friends pull together when you need them. There is a certain calm that comes from knowing people care.
The point to this very long story is, we cannot prevent our children from getting hurt. Many times we must simply be there when they fall. We can only pick them up and try to help them heal. No amount of worry will change this. No amount of knowledge or information can keep us from second guessing our decisions. We can only make the best choices at that particular moment.
Our children are the most important things that ever happen to us. I believe that to be true whether you are the poorest or the richest, whether you are a single parent or married, whether you are a jail bird or a nobel peace prize winner. They will get hurt, they hopefully will heal. With the grace of God, they will remember the positives from their experiences. My most fond memory during those months was when my daughter looked up at me with tears in her eyes and said “Thank you mom, for everything you do for us”. Any time, baby girl, I would do it over and over again. Any time you need me, I am here.