As a mother, there’s not enough bubble wrap in the world for my liking. If I could have an infinite supply to wrap my daughter in for the duration of her (very long, and very happy, I hope) life, of course I would. Like I said, I’m a mother. Such is not reality. And in any case, I am aware of how that would prevent her from having as many good experiences as it would cushion the bad, I would assume. There’s never an easy way to find the right balance of letting go and letting grow, to protection and inadvertent smothering as a parent.
Three weeks ago a call came from my sixth grader’s school that she had tripped and fallen in PE while playing soccer. The teacher had helped her up, dizzy and pale. Realizing there was something to be concerned about given her reaction he lead her, slowly, up to the nurse’s office and immediately called me at home.
As I sped through the neighborhood at Mach Ten, daring someone to glare, gesture, or any police officer to pull me over, I was there practically before I had hung up the phone. My girl is a trooper. She never cries or complains, to the point that when she was younger we would have to tell her that it was okay not to be okay, and she needed to let us know so that we could help. A hard-headed quality that she comes by honestly. And she’s resilient. Thanks in no small part to her sister’s terminal illness and death.
That, of course is something that I never expected her to have to endure. Something that has most certainly shaped her young life in myriad ways, and will remain with her forever. Haven’t we all found our children’s childhood’s shaped by unseen factors that we never planned for and most certainly hoped to avoid? But alas, steel is only tempered by fire. Most parents of children who have passed seem to feel a heightened level of fear, be it rational or irrational, over the loss of their other children. That’s not so far reaching, if you ask me, merely a product of our experiences.
A trip to the sports medicine clinic, a few X-Rays, (broken radius) and a nice purple cast later we were on our way. It was a clean break, and a routine set. Everything was right on track, until two weeks later when another X-Ray showed the bone veering off course and not reattaching correctly. We were informed then that the next step would be surgery.
I may have been in actual shock to hear this and the wheels began spinning in my head. I was upset. Terrified, and thoughts of doctor’s offices, bad news, and hospital visits with Miss Elliott flooded my memory. We had had enough of all that to last a life time, but not with Skylar. She was my healthy child. I tried my best to remain calm in front of her. I didn’t want to further upset her with my own hysteria, and I needed to rein it in for my sanity’s sake as well.
Two days later at six am we were in the hospital prepping for surgery. I was nervous of her undergoing general anesthesia, as she never had before. She had never had anything wrong before, ever. I tired to hide my tears as they wheeled her back, IV in her arm, swimming in the hospital gown they put on her, and walked out to the waiting room.
I had brought a book, although I knew I couldn’t focus long enough to read a single sentence the moment I took a seat. She was now a color coded number on a monitor in the corner of the room, to which my eyes were fixed. It would tell me when she left the surgical prep room for the OR, and then once she was moved to recovery. I watched that screen like a hawk. Shaking with nervousness so profusely that a receptionist mistook my jitters for being cold came over to offer me a blanket.
In just thirty minutes, that felt like nothing short of an eternity, she was already being wheeled into recovery and the nurse was calling me back as she was waking up. A new blue full-arm cast encasing three pins now covered her newly set arm.
She was groggy and in pain, but she was ok. As another Tay-Sachs mom put it, “Hope she feels better soon, sad for her but happy for you as a mom she has something fixable”.
I was certainly thankful for fixable, too.