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Throttle Back...Way Back
Dec 16, 2013 11:26amI guess I need to watch what I pray for. I did want Lauren to catch a break. But, I am thinking the prayers got lost in translation. Lauren was so excited to get the call to be on her volleyball team. So after a very restful Thanksgiving, she went to practice. She was excited about her new team. She LOVED her coach and her teammates. I told her to work really hard and make sure she went for every ball. Well, she did. At the end of practice, she was going for a ball that was coming in deep. She shuffled backwards and tripped. She caught herself with both arms. A friend of ours dropped her off after practice because I was having people over that night. But, I got sidetracked because I met a new mom at volleyball and was having fun getting acquainted. I was having my MOMS group over for an ornament exchange and was excited to have some people over to our finally finished house. I lingered at Lauren's practiced and visted because I was so joyful that our life was getting back to normal: our house was done, I was starting to socialize and entertain again, Lo was thrilled about being back on her Elite team. I just couldn't believe we were starting to get a taste of what seemed like our old life. So, after chatting too long, I rushed home and arranged for another family to bring Lauren home.
I had dinner on the table and we were waiting for Lauren to get dropped off so that we could eat quick and then put the finishing touches on the house for my friends to come. Lauren walked in and sat down with a huff. She was teary-eyed. I asked her how practice went and she needed help getting her coat off. She said her arms really hurt. I had her plate ready and she tried to eat and then broke down crying. She said she had fallen at the end of practice and her arms really hurt. I looked at her right arm and the thumb area was purple and swollen. I had Phil look at it and we were worried. She couldn't really eat her food. Phil said he would run her to the Emergency Room at Children's. My friends were coming and we stopped getting everything ready for my guests and just took care of Lauren.
When my friends came they helped me put the food together and we waited to hear from Phil. We had some wine and cookies and visited. I was hoping for a sprain or just some bruising, but felt in my gut it was probably worse than that. I got a text from Phil. "Doctor thinks it is broken." "We are fine." I told my friends and we said a prayer together for Lauren. They knew I wanted to be with her. I really wanted to host my friends, but was so comfortable with all of them, I asked if they would stay and enjoy each other, while I ran off to the hospital. I felt so glad that they felt comfortable enough at my house to stay. When I walked into the ER, one of the Physician's Assistants that I knew from my earlier days at Children's was just coming in with the x-rays. He said, "Well, they both are broken." I thought Phil or the PA was pranking me. I looked at Lauren and she nodded. I told them I didn't think it was very funny. I knew the one arm looked like something was wrong, but no one had mentioned the other arm. I soon realized it was no joke. Lauren had broken the radius of both arms. He had the radiologist look at the x-ray to make sure it wasn't an issue with Lauren's cancer. He said it was just bad luck and how she landed. Her x-ray actually showed a lot of healing for her bones, but an obvious area that showed her bones had stopped growing for a long time. He thought it would be best to put her in hard splints rather than cast both of them so that we could bathe her. He said if it continues to heal with the splints, we could forgo the casts, but could change to casts if it isn't healing well. I was dumbfounded. Lauren made a quick determination about how she was going to handle it. "I am not going to be sad about this, it will make me feel worse and it already hurts really bad." So wise, she is. So brave. I tried to have the same determination, but have fallen short.
She was in a lot of pain that night and couldn't get comfortable sleeping. She had to take some strong pain meds in the middle of the night. She slept in the next morning and went to school later because she was bored. Since then she has missed a lot of mornings. After sleeping all night, her arms ache. But, then she is ready to go. She is frustrated by the end of the day because she isn't independent and needs help all day long. I think she is tired of feeling that way. She wants to do school. By the end of the day she is totally wiped out and feels very achy. Christmas break could not come sooner. She has realized there is no ice skating, no skiing, and no volleyball. That reality is settling in. She is achy from not being able to move. But, she is determined to not be sad about it. She is trying to find other things to do. She even sat in her bed and tried to draw on Saturday.
December 12th was the one year anniversary of Lauren's diagnosis. We had a celebration dinner and had some friends over. I was so lousy at putting on a dinner. I was very self-conscious about it. The things I used to be good at have flown out the window. I think I was used to having certain skills and realize the stress of the year has made my brain a bit boggled. But, I let go of that and focused on the fact that I had some brain energy to worry about such a silly thing. I guess that is progress. Even a child with two broken arms is a normal kid problem. It isn't life threatening. Maybe when I was praying to God for Lauren to have a break, he answered that prayer by slowing us down completely. Even our celebration dinner was scaled way back. We had a few friends and not a large scale celebration. It was kind of quiet really. We had a "Our Lady of Guadalupe" cake because it was the feast day, but I didn't say anything at dinner because Lauren didn't want the date commemorated that way. It was low key. Well, except our little friend Cooper and Jonathan doing ninja moves. Christmas is going to be all about resting. I was afraid to make big plans and head to Hawaii and Illinois to see family. I think it will be good to really rest and get settled in our house. But, a little aloha by the beach would have been pretty restful too.
I am giving a talk about "Hope" on Thursday at St. Robert's to raise money for cancer. I am sitting here brainstorming about what I am really going to talk about. I didn't start the talk last week because I wasn't feeling it. I have to admit that it took my breath away for a while that Lauren really had to endure two broken arms. Then, last week as the year anniversary of her diagnosis came, the memories of walking into that hospital and the overwhelming fear, anxiety, confusion, and sometimes despair that hit us all smack in the face came back. I had a really hard week last week. So did Lauren...so did Jonathan...for different reasons. I didn't sleep well and the reality of our year last year came back. We are barely getting back on our feet. I was so frustrated with myself that I wasn't feeling the joy of the season and feeling thankful about all our blessings. But, I realized how hard I am on myself. I see where Lauren gets her fierce determination. I was like that for most of my life. All of the hard military moves, a couple of wars, and loss; I was determined not to be sad about it. It does sometimes make you feel worse. But, not feeling it is not healthy. It has to come out. What I was feeling last week was grief. It was grieving the loss of our lives as we knew it. Last year when we walked into that hospital, our lives changed on a dime. Change can be gradual and it can be subtle. This was not that. This was gut-wrenching, life and death change. So, last week, I cried it out and processed it. Tears would flow after mass, in the car, in the middle of the night. I was about sick of it. Why was I crying so much? But, it has to come out. And, after it does, like the end of a cold winter, comes spring and the beginnings of hope. Our life did change forever. But, we got another chance as a family. We are different now and struggling in some ways. But, after we let go of what was and figure it out, we will be stronger. We just aren't there yet. But, I do have hope that we are starting to find our way. We needed to stop and smell the roses. Maybe God knew that we just wouldn't do that on our own.
In the meantime.....What do you call the girl with two broken arms....Lauren Elizabeth Hacker....or Lolo for short....Just don't try to help her with anything unless she asks. I have watched everyone try to cheer her up by saying, "Oh, look what you have been through, you will be fine." That was my instinct too. But, I think it makes her get attention for being tougher than she should have to be. It is ok to say to her, "Wow, Lolo, that stinks. I am sorry that you are in a lot of pain." "I can't wait for you to be better." "Or, I love you!" I guess we need to stop rewarding her for being so tough. I don't want her to have to always live up to that. She has had too much for any kid to handle. I think we need to tell her it is normal for us to be weak and admit it hurts like hell.
Oh darn, it is Phil's bday today. We skipped it last year. It is 2:30 on his bday...no presents, no cake....I guess we better bust a move and make him feel special....and not just old. :)
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