Despite an unsuccessful attempt to ride a bean bag down the basement stairs, my son’s foot is not broken. A fact determined with the help of two urgent care physicians, a pediatrician, a orthopedist, five(ish) nurses and techs, two x-rays, four radiologists, and some guy who I refer to as the “boot fitter.” The treatment of his non-broken foot included a splint, a wrap, a pair of crutches, an oversized boot, and a harem of 4th grade girls who made it their life’s mission to keep him comfortable. The cost of his must-just-be-a-sprain injury included doctor copays, a recently added deductible, 20% patient responsibility, grape flavored pain meds, and countless hours of playing Go Fish on paper lined beds. The sum of the loss was my sanity and any future compassion I may or may not have expressed towards my children when they face injury. Not to mention the fact that I can never show my face at Market of Choice again (thanks to my stepdad who allowed my son to drive the handicap cart at the store — the only details I have include a destroyed Twinkie display and people running for their lives).
Two weeks of drama, over a foot, because no one could decidedly say if it were broken or sprained. One physician prescribed a supportive boot, another scoffed at the boot and suggested I turned it into a flower-pot. One radiologists saw a crack across the growth plate, another saw a shadow, so they called in a tie-breaker. The orthopedist diagnosed his symptoms as an obvious sprain, the pediatrician found point to point pain consistent with a hairline fracture. My son just wanted a cast for people to sign, and some candy, and another pillow, and . . .
Two weeks of a life disrupted left me longing to just say “suck it up,” and move on. It just seemed like an unnecessary amount of trouble. But in the end, it mattered. A break across the growth plate required a different course of action than a sprain. I had to wait it out, pursue the diagnosis, follow the treatment plan. I had to lay down the delicate balance of my schedule, to care for my son.
It was not some great feat to care for him; I do not deserve a triumphal pat on the back. It was the reasonable response . . .
And though I demonstrated that response with my son, I ought to demonstrate it more than I do. I live on a tight schedule, tight budget, and tight nerves. I often miss the call to bear one another’s burdens, carry one another’s cross, lay down my life. Sometimes I don’t leave enough room in my life to simply care. I see the people around me and long to say “suck it up.” When God is asking me to walk the extra mile with them. It can be a painful process to care. People don’t always know what is wrong. Sometimes they just need a shoulder to cry on, an ear to bend, someone to get them an extra pillow.
No one has it all figured out. Everyone needs time to process and sort, and determine the next step. Everyone lives moment to moment, often by trial and error; everyone tries the boot only to discover it was really a flower-pot. Most importantly, everyone needs somebody to sit on the paper and play cards with them. Nobody wants to do it alone.
The greatest gift we can give to one another, is our presence and our time. Not because we have it all together, but because we are all a little broken.