But partway through writing this post, I got a call from the nurse at Calvin's high school. He'd suffered a fall, was hurting and not able to put weight on his left leg. The nurse somberly relayed to me that, while trying to sit in his chair, Calvin "got one cheek on and one cheek off," and he went down hard on his elbow and hip as if the chair he was expecting to be there wasn't, and the ed tech had heard something in Calvin crack. I said, "fuck,"—one of my worst nightmares having seemed to come true—then dropped everything and went to fetch my poor little helpless boy.
So, Tuesday, instead of writing or gardening or taking a much-needed, long-overdue nap, I drove Calvin to our local hospital's emergency department where his beloved teacher, who had loaded him into the car and followed us there, had then lifted a miserable Calvin out of the car and into a wheelchair, waited with us until we got a room.
During the seven hours we spent in the hospital, Calvin underwent three painful hip X-rays and one CT-scan of his pelvis, hip and femur. In between, I sobbed in his arms, feeling completely helpless. As he wailed and moaned, trembled and sweat in waves of intense pain, I wanted to disappear, my motherly anguish becoming worse recalling the horrific hospital episodes of the past: Calvin's fraught birth; his painful, poorly-placed nasogastric tube; his excruciating, unnecessary, bloody intubation; his stubborn, forty-five minute seizure during which Michael and I sat by helplessly, thinking we were kissing him goodbye.
Regrettably, the CT-scan revealed some fat and blood in Calvin's hip socket indicating an occult (hidden) fracture in his hip socket or the femoral head. We'll know for sure a week from Friday when he goes in for more X-rays. We're hoping he won't need surgery. In any event, Calvin will have to keep weight off of his leg for as long as six weeks. Yesterday, I did some heavy lifting, calling doctors and medical supply companies (for a hospital bed and a wheelchair), cleaning up vomit, changing all of Calvin's clothes and bedding twice, doing laundry, trying to get him to eat and drink, changing several dirty diapers—something we've rarely had to do anymore since he's been going on the potty, and a colossal effort with such a big kid whose hip kills him, and who is inclined to put his hand in his poop—and keeping him comfortable and content in bed where he's regrettably sequestered without really understanding why. I can't quite wrap my head around managing Calvin, my hyperactive infant-toddler-teen who suffers seizures and akathesia and is incapable of attending to a screen or reading or playing with most toys, for such an extended time while confined to a wheelchair and bed. Most of all, I feel sorry for Calvin being restricted from the things he loves to do and needs most, which is his jumper—his most favorite place in the world for allowing him to move without expending energy—going to school, traipsing around the house and yard, using the potty and taking a bath (jeezus, I just realized: how in hell are we going to bathe him?!) Once his pain subsides, which I hope is soon, I wonder if I'll be able to manage getting him into the car for rides on the back roads. Suffice to say, we're stuck at home again for the foreseeable future, and helpless to do anything else.
Thankfully, this home is a damn cozy one. Thankfully, our community is astoundingly supportive: a neighbor has offered to walk Smellie anytime; his teacher came by yesterday with the assistant superintendant of special education and they helped while Calvin retched; his teacher went to the store to buy us Pedialyte and Milk of Magnesia; a friend just brought by flowers and many others have offered their help; I have a ridiculously hard-working and supportive husband. In essence, I have so much to be grateful for!
Even so, as I sit here in Calvin's room tapping on my laptop while listening to some quiet music, I worry, with fresh anger and resentment, about my child and his unfortunate mishap, wondering if he'll fully recover and without chronic pain. I consider what a hard and bittersweet spring this is going to be seeing Calvin's peers graduate from high school and go on to bigger and better things. I think about their parents, envious of some of them who will soon be empty nesters enjoying newfound liberties. I meditate on the innocent people in Ukraine who are suffering dire and dreadful atrocities.
But I also think about the podcast I heard the other day in which a woman describes immense grief and loss as not necessarily lessening over time, but instead feeling as though they diminish with each new, rich life experience that expands around them. And though there are spikes and waves of grief and loss, especially during incidents like these, I can attest to feeling as if those emotions have dwindled, if slightly, since grief nearly took me down when I learned about Calvin's malformed brain, then hammered me again when he began suffering seizures and side effects from the drugs meant to stop them.
As with all my blog posts, I write this one not knowing where it will ultimately take me until I've "penned" the final words. Now, it having fully unfolded, I reflect on what I've written about the sorry state of Calvin's fractured hip and what it will mean for us. And I wonder if this might be one of those expansive experiences, and though it mightn't be true for Calvin, I realize I'm not really helpless at all. Rather, in my community, friends and family, I've got all the help in the world.