2017 has been a banner year for my family with injuries, broken bones, and visits to the urgent care.
Just this year we have had-
- A broken collar bone and subsequent surgery (16 year old, skiing through obstacles… didn’t work out as planned)
- Second degree burns on two legs (15 year old, riding a motorcycle, in shorts… without parent approval)
- A badly broken forearm and subsequent physical therapy for nerve damage (12 year old, attempting a beautiful cartwheel, on a trampoline, in front of 30+ friends and family… also didn’t work out as planned)
- The numbing and removal of an ingrown toe nail (also 16 year old, weird regrowth after loosing a toe nail from running a 10k… with me)
- Surgery to remove collar bone hardware, followed by re-breaking of the collar bone a week later (same 16-now 17 year old, he was just running, and it snapped… I know, we couldn’t believe it either)
- Eight stitches to repair a ripped up knee (9 year old, running back to class and then she tripped and fell on the blacktop… it didn’t even rip her jeans, just her knees)
Because I believe that everyone can’t resist looking at gross pictures, here you go…
Needless to say, I have become very good at staying calm and distributing pain medications. Our orthopedic surgeon is now our primary care doctor and the urgent care x-ray technician recognizes us when we come in.
People might assume that I don’t feed my kids enough milk or that my kids are involved in highly dangerous activities, but they would be wrong. My kids consume four gallons of milk and pounds of cheese- every single week. I feed them whole fruits and vegetables like its going out of style. I do not allow my kids to participate in crazy or extremely dangerous activities (sort of). And yet, they still manage to get injured and broken, on a regular basis.
Our first broken bone occurred ten years ago, when my eight year old fell from a tall stack of cushions onto a coffee table.
Because it was the first time I had to take a child to the emergency room, I had to deal with questions and problems that were new to me;
Could I have prevented the accident?
How can I take away my child’s pain and suffering?
What if he doesn’t heal normally?
Why do I feel powerless when my child is in pain?
I haven’t found all of the answers, but I have learned a lot about broken bones and enduring pain. I have learned that;
- Pain, injury and trauma are all unavoidable.
I can not prevent my kids from injury or pain. No amount of great mothering can prevent cuts, breaks and pain. Life is messy and painful.
To quote the great movie, The Princess Bride,
2. I can not take away my kids pain or suffering… and that’s ok.
I don’t want my kids to have pain, but I know that pain is an important part of life. I can’t always fix it, but I can teach them how to become stronger. I can allow them to feel and I can validate their feelings.
3. Physical injuries eventually heal.
We heal. It may not look pretty, but we eventually heal. Our bodies take about eight weeks to regenerate new bone. Stitches come out after ten days, and a second degree burn needs to be re bandaged daily, for about two weeks. A few weeks or months may feel like a long time to help someone get dressed, tie their shoes and wash their hair, but it really isn’t that long.
4. Pain can make you powerful.
We can not avoid pain, but we can learn and grow from it. We can learn empathy. We can learn compassion. We can build patience. We can discover deeper gratitude for our health and our ability to heal. We can connect with others. We can appreciate doctors and their vast knowledge and understanding of the human body. We can recognize the many technicians, engineers, hospital staff, and nurses that come together to take care of us in our greatest time of need and venerability.
And because of our pain, we become stronger.