Friday, June 26, 2015
The Confluence of the Playground Slide, the Oak Tree, and the New Mother
Ron and I had had our children about a month when we packed a picnic lunch to spend Sunday afternoon at the park/playground. The merging of new parents and children tightly bonded to each other wasn't going too badly, but everyone was trying so hard, that a few hours at the park sounded restful.
(If you've been with this blog for a while, you know what happened to me on the slide, so skip over this to the next paragraph.)
I looked up at the long, high slide, then at my not-very-big children and decided I should try it first for safety sake. (Ha!) So I climbed up, sat at the top, surveyed the situation, and whooshed down in my polyester pants, which doubled my speed. (It couldn't have been the weight behind the missile.) Half way down, I noticed a tree at the bottom, slightly to the left of center. It occurred to me that if I put my feet down at the bottom, I'd probably tip headfirst into the trunk. So my split-second decision was to fly off at the bottom, feet up, and sail past the tree. Which would have worked if I hadn't landed on a root of said tree and broken my first and second lumbar vertebrae.
At the hospital, I explained to the doctor that we'd just adopted three children and I had to go home! He explained in no uncertain terms that I could not, but there was a new treatment in place now that put people with such injuries on their feet in record time. It involved a special back brace personally tailored to the patient.
My mother and father took over the household while Ron went to work. (He was editor of a small newspaper in McMinnville.) At 4'10", and after a tough childhood and a lot of her young life spent in a woolen mill, my mother was a cross between Stalin and General Patton when something had to be done. My father looked like Perry Como and was just as sweet.
Mom's first heinous sin was to patch the knees of the boys' jeans using the fabric from their pockets, then sewing the pockets closed. Mike and Pat are 52 and 51 today and my mother is long gone, but they have yet to forgive her. I wasn't there, of course, but Ron reported a big scene. My father found Kathy (then four years old) crying in her bedroom. When he asked her what was wrong, she sobbed that she wanted her mother back. Understanding that at that point, the poor child had a natural mother, a foster mother, and an adopted mother, he asked, to clarify, "Which one?" She answered, "The one with the broken bones!" (That's my favorite part of this story.)
Meanwhile, back at the hospital, I'd been there almost a week, and I knew my husband had a call in to the UN to send peacekeepers. I had to get well and return in a hurry.
The doctor told me a specialist would arrive that night with the makings of my brace, which had to be constructed on me. The man was making several other stops along the way, so wouldn't be arriving until late.
I was awakened shortly after midnight. A nurse remained with me while the man took several flat, narrow metal pieces out of a briefcase, along with several strips of leather and a baggie of findings.
He climbed onto the bed and knelt astride my waist (honestly!), fitted the strips in place to form a sort of harness, then with a screwdriver (again, honestly!) secured them in place. I can usually find equanimity in strange situations, but there's something about having a man working over you in a hospital bed with building tools that's very unsettling.
Hoping to relieve the discomfort, I asked if he ever felt like Dr. Frankenstein, creating the monster. His eyes met mine briefly, but he did not respond, simply continued to work. In his defense, it had probably been a very long day for him, it was now after one a.m., and this patient for whom he'd driven all the way from Portland was making jokes about Victorian horror fiction.
Turned out, the brace was perfectly made, I was walked up and down the hospital corridors for the next few days, then went home. My parents and the kids ran out to meet me as Ron helped me up the steps. My mother was crying, and so was my daughter, who had wept for me while I was gone and now held me tightly, conking her head on my brace.
Bonding accomplished! And all it took was a broken back, a UN peacekeeping mission, and Dr. Frankenstein.
Piece o' cake.
Please share anything about your family you think we'd like to know.