Things I never thought I’d say:
“Zack, please don’t do the treadmill with that boot on your foot.”
“And, PLEASE, stop trying to run!”
We nearly made it 14 years with all bones in tact. Sadly, Zack’s 2nd metatarsal did not survive a run in with a railroad tie on Friday night. Will we ever know the real story? Doubtful. Something along the lines of ‘we were playing tag in the dark,’ or ‘we were running around in the dark,’ or ‘it was dark and I didn’t see the wooden thing.’ Whatever the action, the reaction was a severely stubbed toe – which was reported to us via text and a picture of a bag of ice cradling said toe.
Zack was away on a mission trip with Harvest of Hope – something he does a few times of year – off with the boys to glean crops. Doing the Lord’s work when he found that beam! I suspect the Lord’s name came straight out of his mouth on impact.
Our child has a flair for dramatics – so we paid very little attention to the text, other than asking for a comparison shot of his two feet. We virtual diagnosed that everything was fine – or would be after some ibuprofen and a good night’s sleep. No word from the chaperones, one of whom we trust with that boy’s life. By the time we got up on Saturday, Zack was unreachable – off in a remote orchard picking what would end up being 17,000 pounds of apples. We paid no attention to the lack of update. And by ‘no attention,’ I mean, we forgot all about the toe.
At the end of Saturday, we got a very brief toe blurb of ‘it hurts but I’m fine.’ Okay, great. As predicted. No red alerts. No more communication, which is the typical level of communication we’ve come to expect from anyone with the word ‘teen’ in their age.
Mid-afternoon Sunday, I got the ‘we’re back’ text and made my way to Jenny’s house (yes, that Jenny, whom I love dearly and often threaten to move in with) to collect what I assumed would be a very dirty, very tired boy. I could tell coming up the driveway that he was, indeed, dirty, tired, a bit slower and slightly disheveled. All signs of an excellent weekend. I strolled over to chat with Jenny and, while hearing play by plays of a teen-boy-body-odor filled weekend, Zack came absolutely limping around the corner. I mean dragging his leg behind him like he was losing it at the hip joint.
Have I mentioned his flair for dramatics? Jenny and I both popped up straighter – she quickly saying it wasn’t that bad the day before, me asking Zack if he was going for the sympathy vote – and promising he would absolutely get it…no need for the limp. He said ‘No…I don’t know why, but it’s just hurting more…’ Well, yeah, your favorite person just showed up…that’s the perfect time to let go.
Then he reached down and pulled off his sock and shoe.
I’m sure Jenny and I had identical looks on our faces. Jaws dropped. Eyes bugged out. Eyebrows halfway up our foreheads. Stammering. Jenny quickly saying it wasn’t that bad this morning, me basically just repeating ‘uuuhhhh… and ‘hmmm…’ and ‘that’s not great…’ I’ve never seen a foot (or anything) as swollen as Zack’s. It was at least twice as big as the other and could easily have been mistaken as belonging to Fred Flintstone.
Oddly, our panicked reactions were not at all reassuring to Zack. Nothing came out that resembled ‘oh, that’ll be just fine’ or ‘I’ve seen that before.’ Jenny was busy unnecessarily apologizing and I was busy telling her not to worry (there was literally no bruising…what in the world?). I did, at last, pull myself together enough to driveway diagnose a broken metatarsal via an old coaching trick of ‘does it hurt here?’and explained that we’d be going home to scrub off the smell of orchard living and then continuing on to our emergency orthopedic office.
Which is pretty much how it went.
At home, Rich and I continued with a couch diagnosis alternating between ‘maybe we can wait a day’ and ‘maybe that’s not a great idea.’ Of course, as with all excelling parents, the decision was made based on our Monday schedules and neither’s desire to add one more thing to those schedules. Fine. Off to x-ray, we announced. Zack had been quietly watching the discussion (no doubt wondering why Dr. Spock ended his book at toddler-hood) but at the announcement, blanched.
It’s so easy to forget what your kid hasn’t been through. So easy to just assume they have the same knowledge base as we do. Which is why the thought of x-rays sent Zack into a panic. What with the needles and the dye and the machine and having to lay still for thirty minutes. Oh. Okay. Yes.
See, a few weeks ago, I’d had both an MRI and a ‘live’ x-ray, involving needles and dye and a machine and laying still all in prep for a wrist exorcism in a few weeks. That story was Zack’s only perspective of what was about to happen to him and it involved his least favorite thing and total phobia – needles. So while we were casually mentioned a quick x-ray, Zack was likely recalling the time he reacted to a flu shot in Target by screeching, bolting and being lost in the store for 45 minutes while hiding inside a display.
We grabbed his good foot to pull him off the ceiling. Made it to Ortho On Call. Confirmed my diagnosis of a 2nd metatarsal fracture, came home with the latest in boot wear and instructions for rest/ice/ibuprofen until his foot began looking more human and less hobbit.
I figured we’d get two out of three mastered – rest, by making all his video game dreams come true. Ibuprofen, self-solving – you want it to hurt less? Ice, I was sure we had no shot at all. Two out of three mastered, high five!
Until I heard the treadmill. Surely, no. Then, pat, clunk, pat, clunk, pat, clunk with increasing beeps of the belt being driven to the next level.
“Zack, please don’t do the treadmill with that boot on your foot.” Beeping stops.
I turn just in time to see him attempt dart down the hall.
“And, PLEASE, stop trying to run!”
“But I need to see how much speed I can get with this!”