Monday, January 07, 2008


Baby steps
Deerfield Beach, Florida, December 2007

Zach had another appointment at the hospital today. Almost four months since his accident (see here for the gruesome details and here, here, here and here for followup glimpses) he's gotten used to regular return visits to the crowded ortho clinic where they image his leg, assess his progress and figure out next steps in his recovery.

In this ADD-driven world where kids are taught to worship at the altar of instant gratification from the moment they can first suck on a pacifier, this months-long, agonizingly slow process has been an important growth experience in his young life.

Today was a good day. His surgeon cleared him to ditch the cast for good. I had his good sneaker in my knapsack, ready just in case. As he put it on and tied it, I noticed how perfectly white it was next to the scruffy shoe that had been his only footwear since September. He got up and limped away, the doctor's advice echoing in his ears as he took a few tentative steps, knowing he wouldn't be putting his air cast back on when he got to school.

He faces a couple of months of physio to rebuild his strength and coordination. He still limps and is still favoring the leg. All normal and expected. But he's closer to the end now, and that's a bit of a relief after all this time. Something tells me I'll never be fully relieved. A parent's lament, I guess.

Your turn: How do you get through marathon challenges?

About this picture: Taken at the beach a couple of weeks ago. He was worried about how he'd manage the surf, fearful of injuring himself. He tentatively stepped into the water, and I followed with my lens. I wish I could do more than just watch and hope.


Anna said...

His feet look a little timid. Great shot Carmi. :)

Jennifer said...

This is an amazing capture. You can just feel how tense he is just by looking!

Glad to hear he's doing better.

Linda said...

I have been blessed to not have any "great challenges" in my life thus far. But I have friends who are going through so many difficult times. A friend with brain cancer, whose youngest daughter had a heart transplant and had autism to boot (and she, the mom of 3 other kids as well)...a mom of 3, military wife, whose oldest son had brain cancer and spent the better part of a year dealing with all that goes with it (and dad deployed a month after he finished chemo)

And most recently, my good friend's 8 y/o son, hit by a car on New Year's Day while riding his bike. Head trauma, broken tibia, so much for such a young person.

Yet through all of these tragedies, what I have seen in ALL these people, is God. And that is where I will turn, should the challenge arise.

(btw - I got a D-SLR for Christmas! Any advice????)

Holly Schwendiman said...

Congratulations! I think for me the challenge isn't just learning to enjoy the ride or even endure the trials but rather to do it with a cheerful heart. The ball is always rolling, sometimes you're on top and sometimes you're squashed but it will keep turning. I try to really enjoy the on top times and remember they'll come again when I'm feeling flattened. :)


Roth Family Adventures said...

Glad to hear Zach is healing. I bet he's ecstatic to get rid of the cast and get back to normal.

Great photo.

NetChick said...

Hi Carmi... Seems like this year, and for the most part, my whole life is a marathon challenge. But, then again, I don't think I'm special. We all have our challenges!

How I get through mine? Well, when I went through the 18 plastic surgeries related to my birth defect, I used each of them as the "power pole" to pull me to the next one (marathoner mentality). With my Dad's 3 year battle with cancer that ended only a few weeks ago, we each got through his pain by knowing we were lucky enough to have "just one more day".

So, I guess for me, it's all about not looking at the end-result, but finding those power poles to hold on to along the way. Seems to work well for me!

I am so happy to hear your son is doing better... He's in my thoughts! (and he's so darn lucky to have two amazing parents that support him so well)

Awareness said...

Your photo captures vulnerability.

You do much more than watch and envelope them with your unconditional love every single day.

I love visiting here because I always come away feeling like I have visited a tenderheart.

It'll probably be a long winter for Zach as he continues with his physio etc.....but he'll be fully ready to go just in time for spring! I bet a trip to Florida was wonderful for the healing process.

Sherry said...

That's a wonderful shot of the caution, the timidity, the uncertainty of stepping forward after being held in protective cover for so long.

I'm not sure of Zach's age (I have to go back further to determine that) but I do know this..he has learned a very valuable life lesson at a very tender age.

Life is a constant challenge and we find out what we are made of as we go through it. Having walked the gauntlet of breast cancer for 3 years (and doing well, expecting to continue so!) - tests, surgeries, treatments, follow ups...I know this well. The hurry up and wait, the protective cover of medical professionals along the way..and then cleared to go and "what do I do now?" -- the tentative, timid steps back into life without a net. And it's good...all good. So Zach is learning something that many of us do not learn until later in our lives.

As for your comment about wishing you could do more than just "wish and hope"...that is all you need to do's as hard for the people who are supporting and going through someone else's trial..but remember this...what you have learned about yourself and about life along the journey.

Baby's one moment, one day, one step at a time...throughout all of life.

Joan said...

Hooray for no more cast! Thank you for posting this progress report - we'll keep praying for continued healing.

Your picture, as always, is wonderful, capturing the excitement, hesitation, anticipation and uncertainty all wrapped up together. Highly emotional for 2 dimensions!

Pam said...

Our last two years have been one big marathon of trials. We have been knocked down, and just as we start to get up, knocked down again.

But, if it's one thing I have learned, it has been to just take things one day at a time and be thankful for what we do have.

When we first got Rhett's diagnosis of Down Syndrome, my first thought was, oh thank goodness he doesn't have the heart defect and intestinal defect....well, those both have come over the last two years, but it's funny now, the Down Syndrome it nothing to me. There are days I forget that he even has it. He is just my child.

After everything we have been through together, my family is a million times stronger than we were before we were blessed with an extra chromosome.

I have my days when I am angry at the world, at the nurse for overdosing him, but in the same aspect, I bet you that now she has made that mistake, she is one of the most vigilant careful nurse's to ever walk the planet.

People always tell me, "Oh I am so sorry he has Down Syndrome, what a challenge." My response? "Please don't be sorry, this child has taught me more love, compassion, humility, and strength than anyone could possibly imagine. He is a blessing."

We laugh more, love more, and live each day to the fullest, and yes we have cried more these last two years, but that is a small price to pay for the love that this child brings to our family. All I have to do is look at the sparkle in my children's eyes to know that I will make it through whatever is thrown at us next.

Networkchic said...

I remember the first time my daughter got hurt and we had to take her to the hospital, I felt helpless. I've never been good at being helpless, I guess I'm too much of a control freak for that. There's one thing I've realized since becoming a parent, sometimes you have know choice but to be helpless. 'Sit back and watch', yes that's what we do sometimes isn't it? I think that learning to do that without running frantically over and wrapping a protective shield around them is just about the hardest thing I've ever done...or will ever do.

Love the picture.

LaskiGal said...

What a telling photo . . . stumbled upon your blog . . . my response . . . one mile at a time. How else?

I am continually reminding myself that it isn't "All about me" and that with each and every challenge I face there are others who have gone through so much more (surgeries, cancer, death, heartbreak . . .)Yes, life has not been easy, but I am fortunate in so many other ways.

Eek . . . got a little preachy in a Hallmarky sort of fashion. But, you get what I mean, I'm sure . . .

Shoshana said...

Without reading the post and just looking at the picture, I think it's a brave child going back into the water.

After reading the post, it's even more incredible. I hope that his legs will be even better and soon. Thank God for these amazing doctors your son deals with.

Joe said...

This is a beautiful picture and a wonderful story. Good luck to all of you on this long term challenge!

I was coming here via Michele though my comment wouldn't publish on her blog

Childlife said...

Hi Carmi - I actually read this post last week, along with all of your links to it. I have stopped by to comment three times now (every time being interrupted by a roving band of rowdy toddlers).

You say so much with your photography - the picture just gripped me. My oldest is five and has been through 25 surgeries now. There will be more. And they never get easier. If you're interested, here are some random thoughts I jotted down shortly before her 24th time under anesthesia.

I think you're right - as parents we will never fully be relieved. We will always wish, hope and pray for our children. Anyway, I get what you're going through, so hang in there. It's so very hard to watch our children suffer pain and tough times.