To say that every single aspect of our move to Spokane has been smooth and easy would be a bold faced, italicized, triple exclamation point lie. Yes, we arrived in Spokane safe and sound, or as sound as a mother could be with her chatterbox then 7 year old as her driving companion. The beauty of our tree-tunneled street was awesome to see as we pulled into the driveway of our new home. As soon as the kids inspected the house, claimed their rooms and whooped it up, they begged for their bikes to be taken off the trailer so they could inspect the neighborhood. A lot of complaining and rope untying later, the three helmeted blonds were off on the BMX rides in search of adventure, and hopefully, a friend. My husband and I stayed at home and unpacked with strict instructions to stick together, ride safe and report back within the half hour.
Twenty minutes into our peace, their exploration, our middle son returns home reporting that his younger seven year old brother fell and hurt his thumb on the school playground and won’t ride his bike home. We thought it was just his obstinate nature, so my husband rode his bike to the school, leaving Within minutes I received the call to drive over and pick up the injured child and his bike. We went out and bought a thumb brace and arm sling and tended to our wounded soldier. He wore the brace and sling a few days then ditched them both proclaiming himself healed and ready to go. In our 19 years of child-rearing up to this point, we believed that if the kid was willing and able to use the appendage he was healed. Such fools. Ten days after the initial injury, we took our first trip to Lake Coeur D’Alene. We played and swam and splashed and though it was plenty hot, our youngest would not go into the water, swim with his right arm, throw a ball or Frisbee, or use his arm at all. He couldn’t raise his arm. He was able to get dressed, eat and use his arm, and fool his oblivious parents, but his arm was showing true signs of being broken. When I took him to the doctor and the x-ray confirmed that his arm was indeed broken, the doctor said to me, “You must be in the running for Parent of the Year.” Who knew my reputation proceeded me to Spokane.
That was our first broken bone.
The next injury wasn’t a break but was a sprained knee with pulled ligaments to our oldest soccer playing son. Almost at the end of August, he was running on the field, then suddenly, he was done. Like any good soccer player, he knows a good flop, but this was no typical son-of-mine flop. He was down and didn’t run again for three months. Within two months we had hotlines to orthopedics and physical therapists.
Our second broken bone was mine. If you’ve read my blog at any point over the last year, you know I was attacked by squirrels. What really happened is that I startled them, they scared me, I didn’t see the bump in the sidewalk and fell exactly how you’re not supposed to – with your arms out in front of you. My youngest and I have high tolerances for pain apparently. It wasn’t until my hand swelled a week or so later, so much so that I had to have my wedding rings cut off, that I decided to head on over to urgent care.
Our then twelve, now thirteen year old had a tough year. Transitioning into a new school, limping, unable to run, unable to play the sport he loves, having left his awesome friends behind and no new friends to help heal the wounds, we experienced teenage wrath that we knew we had coming. We knew he’d have a hard year. Our crystal ball just didn’t foretell his drama to be compounded with injury. We sent him to California for a fantastic weekend surrounded by friends and his soccer teammates. That seemed to do him good. His grades improved, newly recovered he signed up for interscholastic basketball, his attitude had changed. We had a great winter, we skied at Silver and he loved it, he started playing basketball, then we went skiing again, this time to 49 degrees North.
On January 20, we drove, about an hour and half, and got on the mountain early. We skied all day. We saw people we knew. We were happy and comfortable and enjoying our day. After lunch my husband wanted to take our oldest and more experienced skier out, just the two of them. I took the younger two to my comfort zone, the green diamond runs. I ski so slow my ten year old was twisted so far around to talk to me that he could have been skiing backward. No need for speed here. My husband and I agreed to meet back at the lodge at 3:30, just as the mountain shuts down. Remember, in the Great North, the sun sets early in the winter and stays up late in the summer. The boys and I were back at the lodge on time, drinking hot chocolates. Our hot chocolates ran out, the kitchen closed, no sign of my husband and son. Two ski patrol snow mobiles shot out from the left side of the lodge to the top of the mountain. Ski patrol stood around outside. Do you know that uncomfortable tingle you get, that premonition, when you know something is wrong to someone you love? Leaving the boys inside, I ran out to talk to Ski Patrol. They told me there were two accidents, one for sure was a broken collar bone, the other was a dislocated or broken hip. “Please be the collar bone, please be the collar bone,” I began chanting to myself. My husband then skied down, holding my son’s skis, as the snow mobile and toboggan pulled our son to triage. My husband gathered gear and took care of the younger boys while I ran to the Ski Patrol triage area. The ambulance was called to take us to the small local hospital. My husband drove the boys home leaving us in the ER, unsure if we would be transported to Spokane’s hospitals or released. Five hours later, we were released, knowing that his hip wasn’t broken but unsure of total damage. The small hospital didn’t have an MRI and we were instructed to call an orthopedic and get further care once we arrived back in Spokane. My husband drove back, an hour and a half, to get us. This was an ordeal in an of itself, yet while I stood in the ER, fretting over my son, my mom called to tell me that my older sister was dying and the doctor called the family together.
On January 22, my sister passed away surrounded by her sons, their wife and girlfriend, her mother and her siblings at University of Washington Medical Center. She received the best of care and we received incredible support. Though we knew the possibility of this outcome when she had her bone marrow transplant in October, the reality of my sister being gone is still impossible to believe.
Parts of me are still in shock from that week.
I returned home from Seattle to an injured son, who, according to the MRI, had pulled ligaments in his hip. He remained on crutches for 2 1/2 months. He walked in the pool at physical therapy while I travelled to sister’s memorial service in Michigan.
Life goes on.
Until the next bone breaks.
The young one was back in form, playing a stealth game of basketball. He got checked to the asphalt by a scrappy hockey playing classmate using his ring finger of his right hand to break his fall. The injury happened at lunch time, but high pain tolerance strikes again. Despite the swelling and discoloration that had to be brutally painful, he didn’t shed a tear. His teacher nor the office knew he was injured. When he got home from school at 3 PM with a purple sausage for a finger, I ran him immediately to urgent care. Since nothing is ever easy with this kid, it wasn’t a simple break, but a tricky one involving his growth plate, requiring a specialist.
Except for the hole in my heart and in my life, we have all recovered from our injuries. We have paid our dues to Spokane’s healthcare system and made some friends and connections along the way. I also scored a “Squirrel Whisperer” t-shirt and some cute squirrel knick knacks from my younger sister and friends that thing they are hilarious. Har dee har har.
Our oldest son came home a week before school let out and asked if I had heard of this weeklong overnight camp. Yes, I told him I knew about it, why, I asked. My friends are going this particular week and I want to go too. Wait. Time stood still as I wanted to find out more about these friends, what friends? All year we heard nothing but how this school sucks and he has no friends and now suddenly there are friends and they are making friends. I almost passed out. Instead, I took a deep breath and said, sure, yes, you can go. Off he went to school. I sat down, poured another cup of coffee to jolt me into action and sign him up for camp.
Though in so many ways our year has been spectacular, this year has been rough. I am so thankful and grateful to be surrounded by family and friends and teachers and coworkers and new friends and community that care. Thank you for supporting us through our journey.