I had a bit of a flashback this weekend, and it wasn't the good kind. Or drug-induced. My son woke up at 4am screaming out in pain because he couldn't move his leg. He couldn't stretch it out. He couldn't touch his knee. When he tried, he shrieked in pain and tears came streaming down his chubby cheeks. I was able to get him back to sleep for a while, only for him to wake up a couple of hours later feeling no better. He kept insisting that his leg hurt and that he couldn't walk. After getting him out of bed with the help of my hubby, he couldn't even hold his hurt leg up on its own, so crutches were pretty much out of the question. Because of that, Jeff carried him to wherever he needed to go that morning. It's a good thing our house is small.
After a few hours, we went to his sister's soccer game, and Ben stayed in the van for a while...until he decided to get out to say hello to a couple of friends who came to watch Anna play. He tried using the crutches we brought with us, but because he couldn't hold his hurt leg up, he thought he could rest it on his good foot while he shuffled along with his crutches. Combine that off-balance stature with gravel in the parking lot, and you get a stocky 9-year-old splayed out on the ground, unable to stand on his own. We lifted him up and carried him back to the van and drove straight to the "urgent" care center. I use the quote marks because we were there for four looooong hours. After many tears, pain, and x-rays, we were told that nothing significant was showing up on the x-rays. The doctor examined Ben's knee extensively (while Ben cried quietly, not wanting to embarrass himself in front of the doctor) and concluded that he had some swelling, but wasn't sure what could be wrong. He advised us to give him ibuprofen for the inflammation and contact an orthopedic specialist in a few days if things didn't improve.
While some of my Facebook friends prayed for Ben, others gave their advice that it was just growing pains. I will be the first to admit that he can be dramatic and will cry over a splinter. On the other end of the spectrum, his sister could probably have a compound fracture during a soccer game and would insist it's a mere flesh wound and would beg to keep playing. As a mom, it's hard to know sometimes whether to tell a kid to suck it up and rub some dirt on it or when to take him seriously. Generally, after a fall on the playground or a skinned knee on a sidewalk, I tell him to be brave and push through the pain. But the pain in his voice that day made me take notice. And this is where my flashback comes in to play.
When I was 18 years old, I started having pain in my right arm for no apparent reason. I complained about it to a few people, but got little sympathy. There was nothing visibly wrong with me, so what could possibly be hurting me, right? Even my loving sister whom I adore to the moon and back called me a hypochondriac. Fast forward four weeks later, and I was in a St. Louis hospital under the care of an orthopedic specialist who was forming a plan with an oncologist because the early diagnosis was bone cancer. Thankfully, after more testing, it turned out to be a bone infection (which could have killed me had it gone untreated for much longer). So after three surgeries, a broken arm and seven weeks of heavy IV antibiotics, I was cured.
As I listened to Ben scream and wiped his tears, my mind went back to the time when no one would listen to my scared 18-year-old former self. Did I think that, more than likely, nothing was wrong with him? Yes. Did I think that maybe there was a slight possibility that something serious was going on? Most definitely. Which is why I took the precautionary steps I did. For all I knew, this blog could have turned into his own "five more years to live." A day earlier, I had just read an article about a young girl who was diagnosed with bone cancer in her leg; and a fundraiser was happening that Saturday night to help with her medical expenses. Stories like that make mothers take notice.
A good friend of mine told me that she thought Ben was milking the situation on Saturday night at dinner because he said he liked being waited on. Perhaps. But I don't know anyone who doesn't like to be taken care of with a little extra service when they are sick or in pain. It was a few days before Thanksgiving when I had my first surgery on my arm, so my family waited on me that day with anything I needed. And I certainly enjoyed not having to wash dishes or make the fruit salad that year!
Now, three days since the 4am wake-up call, Ben is walking fine without pain. We still don't know what caused his pain. He had fallen on his knees last week after turning a flip around a bar, so that may be why. Maybe he was having horrible growing pains. Or maybe there still is something wrong and it's just hiding from us. At any rate, I'm happy that he isn't crying now when he moves. And Jeff is happy that he doesn't have to carry the big boy from place to place.
Parenthood is so full of "what ifs." Hell, life is full of "what ifs." Sometimes quieting the "what ifs" takes a few hours in an urgent care center. If the alternative is worry and wondering, I will take that kind of silence any day.