I’ve written about our experiences with the amazing people who took care of Michael last year during his lengthy recovery from knee surgery.
Now, it seems, there’s a new chapter to this story. A few weeks ago, Michael hurt his “good” knee. It was a bone contusion – a painful, but relatively minor injury. Given his history, we did have to take him for an MRI (his 4th in the last year and a half!), and several weeks later, he’s still on crutches. This latest injury also bought him a visit to a geneticist, who diagnosed him with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. We do have to take him for a cardiac screening to rule out complications, but thankfully, it looks like a fairly benign type of the syndrome, which causes loose joints and allows him to do weird circus-like tricks with his limbs, which seem to simultaneously amaze and nauseate people. Unfortunately, it also makes him more prone to injury, which is tough for an active kid who loves sports.
Yesterday, I said a silent prayer of thanks to Michael’s physical therapist. Michael is 10 years old. He had been going to PT twice a week for 16 months. He was released from PT for just a few weeks before he had to head back again for this latest injury. And because of his diagnosis, it’s likely he’ll be there for a while, to continue to strengthen his muscles and hopefully avoid further injury.
While Michael was in the gym warming up on the bike, his physical therapist sat down with me to talk about his diagnosis, stopped thoughtfully, and said he would try and figure out ways to make this journey easier for Michael. A few minutes later, Michael returned, and LJ had given him a ball, with instructions to dribble while he stood on one foot, then the other. Knowing that Michael loves basketball, he’d found a way to make my kid smile while he was getting back to bearing full weight on both legs.
A small gesture? Perhaps. But not to Michael. And definitely not to me.
Regardless of their medical status, athletic ability, academic gifts, social stature, or the rest of the factors that make our kids who they are, we all have challenges to get through with our kids. This is ours with Michael.
Is it easy? Definitely not. Could I bemoan the fact that I have his orthopedist’s cell phone number, and that I’ve called it more than once? That he sat on the bench for all of last basketball season, played two games this season, only to be benched again with another injury? Sure.
But I’m choosing not to. Instead, we do our best to use these situations as lessons for all of us. I’ve learned that it’s hard for me to take him to his basketball games to watch him sit on the bench. But I’ve also learned that being a part of a team is so important to him, and that Michael is happier sitting on the bench, cheering his team on, than he would be at home. So we take him to the games.
I’ve learned that Michael is entitled to bad days. And so am I. But there’s little point in having too many bad days, so we choose to find ways to turn a bad day around, especially by being thankful for the many people who are in this with us.