January 17, 2011

Broken Voices, Broken Hearts and Broken Toes

Fractures of the fourth and fifth metatarsals.

The day started with me waking up a grumpy daughter who did not wish to rise. As she she settled down to eat her breakfast, I went to wake my nonverbal seven-year-old son, who had injured his foot the evening before.

Daniel is a monkey. He loves to climb. And even though he is careful, he takes risks. I know it probably sounds ridiculous to make those two comments in the same sentence, but parents with children on the severe end of the spectrum will understand. Let me put it this way: he appreciates that he might fall, but he is a boy who loves to climb.

And, as I mentioned, communication is not his speciality, so he always has preferred to take care of his needs, and especially his wants, himself.

Which explains how he wound up falling from the very high shelf in my closet--the one where I had stored the Halloween trick-or-treat pumpkins. I thought they would be out of sight, out of mind.

I should have known better.

I heard the crash. I heard the screaming.

That was last Thursday evening.

I thought, and hoped, he had an ankle sprain. Two people even looked at it and said as much. OK, so they weren't doctors, but they were guys who probably have had their share of ankle sprains.

But when Daniel woke up on Friday morning and still wouldn't put any weight on his foot, I began to get very scared.

I took Olivia to school and then began a series of phone calls to the doctor's office.

We can't see you until after 3, they told me.

Ah, that is not going to be good enough, I said. I have a nonverbal seven-year-old who might have a broken foot and I have to carry him everywhere. I also have a five-year-old. And, at the moment, I have no help (something I could have said many times over the past few years). I can't wait until the end of the day to start this process. He is in pain. Something needs to happen--now

Go ahead and bring him for an x-ray, they said.

Thank you, I will.

I drove 20 minutes to an unfamiliar hospital, carried my 55-pound child from the parking lot, placed him in chairs at two waiting places, filled out a ton of paperwork, carried him back to radiology, and then--joy-of-joys--restrained him while he got an x-ray of his foot.

Then I rushed out to the car so that I could pick up my daughter from school on time.

The three of us then went to the doctor's office, to await word of the x-ray results.

(Daniel was acting terribly. Somebody could have shot a film of his behavior in that office and played it for audiences around the world. "This is what a child with severe autism looks like," the narrarator might say. It was that bad. Of course, he had a broken foot, to go along with the major behavior problems that have sprung up recently, so what could I possibly have expected?)

Two broken bones.


I would gladly accept a dozen broken bones in my own body before wanting Daniel to have one.

Any mother would probably say the same. (Well, a lot would. I have seen a few very selfish mothers, both when working for the juvenile court system and more recently.) I say it with a little more zeal than most moms, though, because Daniel, is Daniel. And everything in his life is so much more complicated than it should be.

But life is life. And bones break.

So, what do we do, I asked.

You take him back to the hospital and go see the orthopedic specialist--immediately.

So, Daniel, Olivia and I drive to the hospital.

More paperwork. More carrying. (Thank goodness I have been lifting weights the past year.) And, then the highlight of my day, I get to restrain my son while two very nice people put a cast on his foot.

It was torture.

Pure, agonizing torture.

I held Daniel in my lap and did my best to pen his good leg and both arms. I had to grip both of his forearms with all my might. Whenever he got a hand free of my grasp, he would claw, hit, pull my hair, you name it. I dodged multiple headbutts, but he landed plenty.

I wondered what must have been going through his mind.

Why does my foot hurt so badly?
What are these people doing to me?
How long is this going to take?
I hate the feeling of this thing on my foot!
It hurts, it hurts, it hurts. How long is it going to hurt?

That was Friday afternoon.

He seems to have figured out that the cast is there to help him. He is motoring around on it quite well.

Indeed, he is climbing.

Four weeks with no swimming and no bath. Did I mention how much Daniel loves water.

Somehow, we will get through it.
But I can say this about life: sometimes when it rains, it really does pour.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, gosh, Leah!! This is terrible...I'm so sorry for you and Daniel!
    I absolutely cannot imagine how tough it would be to put a cast on M. I assume it's a walking cast, right? Because how in the hell would we teach these little guys to use crutches? Yikes, I hope he heals very quickly!