I told him to turn off the TV and come upstairs for church. I thought it was a little odd that he ran upstairs and put on his basketball shoes instead of his church shoes, but he's 10, and burning energy every waking moment is of utmost importance to him, especially since he had three hours of church ahead of him.
He would wear his basketball shoes to church if I let him, anyway.
"Put on your church shoes," I said.
"Mom, I'm just gonna shoot a few hoops before church." I didn't feel like arguing.
I had just finished putting makeup on one eye when I heard the screaming followed by his sisters taunting, "Nathan, you're such a faker!."
"Go get Mom!" he screamed.
I was outside in flash in all my one-eyed beauty watching a screaming , writhing child get grass stains all over his church clothes.
"It hurts!" he yelled, red-faced.
"What hurts?" I yelled back.
"My ankle! I went down on it hard!"
"Is it the same one as last time?" He nodded and wheezed, tears streaming down his face.
"He's not faking," I told his sisters. "Go get Dad." Nathan and I hobbled into the house, where he fell down in the doorway and proceded to roll around on the carpet, crying.
"It's his same foot," I told Darren when he came in the room." We looked at each other with worried-married people eyes. I pictured Nathan last fall, on the sidelines, watching his team struggle, a big green cast up to his knee. Then I pictured him last week, defending the goal like no one's business, blocking all but one of the other team's goals. Please, not again.
We got him on the couch and put ice on his very swollen ankle. We sent the girls to church and then talked ahout what we should do. "I think it's just a sprain," my husband said after consulting his online medical encyclopedia.
"I think we should go get it checked out, " I said. "We're going to New York in two days." He consulted his encyclopedia again. We decided to wait until morning. When we ate cake on the patio later that day he was chasing Leah around throwing water-soaked balls. No sign of a limp.Then he came in and sat down for the rest of the night. I breathed a tentative sign of relief, and then said a fervent prayer before bed.
In the morning, I peeked under his covers at his ankle while he slept. It was still big as an apricot. I made him get up and walk. He was limping. I called the orthopedic surgeon, the one who treated him last fall for an almost similar injury.
At 11:30 we were playing hangman in Dr. Mortensen's sports medicine office. We were using words and phrases associated with New York like "Big Apple," "Statue of Liberty," and then "I hope this doesn't take long," and finally "It always does" when Dr. Mortensen came in to look at the exrays. Small tear/fracture in the growth plate, he told us. Four weeks to heal. Be careful walking around New York. Good news, a removable ankle cast will be fine. If he rolls it again, the plate could break and he would need surgery to repair it.
Nathan's shirt came up over his eyes. He tried to not care, but there was just too much to care about--two more games, the tournament after that, the hopes of a fantastic finish, the memories of sitting it out last season. He shuddered a bit. We talked about what might happen. Maybe he could play a tournament game. Maybe. Always a bunch of maybes.
I came home and emailed the coaches. Dear Ryan and Doug, I am so sorry to tell you this . . . "
When I was helping him pack earlier today, I noticed he had hung up his church clothes, the ones with grass stains all over them. It was the first time he had actually got them on the hanger right.
I took them off the hanger and threw them in the dirty clothes to deal with later and then tried to think about what shoes he could get over the ankle cast. I went downstairs to look through his shoes, and tried not to think about next Wednesday's game, the one where he'd be watching and rooting, every muscle in his body aching to play.