We almost made it through the baseball season injury-free. Almost. Then, this past weekend I got the call. I was en route from my daughter’s softball game to my 13-year-old’s final little league game of the season when it happened.
“Your son has a broken foot” said the voice on the other end of the line. Damnit.
When I arrived at the field a few minutes later, another parent was flagging me down, arms waving in the air, directing me to my son, Isaac. There he was, sprawled out under a tree, surrounded by his teammates’ concerned parents who had already iced and wrapped his foot and were now comforting him with encouraging words. As several people helped lift him into the backseat of the car, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude for the love with which my child was treated in my absence. “Call me tonight & let me know how he’s doing”, said his coach. I felt my tension subside, touched by their attentiveness…Community
Had I been a first time mom, I may have rushed my kid immediately to the E.R. But given the fact that I’ve been parenting for 18 years now, there’s not much that alarms me. Including sports injuries. And so, I opted to take my son to urgent care first, based on the fact that he was telling me his pain was manageable, and that he thought maybe it was a bad sprain. As soon as we signed in and the doctor pulled off the ice packs, however, I knew I’d made a bad call. His ankle was most definitely broken. So broken, in fact, that the first thing the doctor said to me was “What kind of insurance does he have?” (Side note: Thank heavens for the fact that my son is dually insured through both his dad & I, and that the insurance is more than comprehensive. That fact alone took much of the headache out of what was a long drawn out evening).
So anyway, the on-call urgent care doctor gets us to the X-ray room right away, where we were greeted by an older gentleman of Southeast Asian descent. He immediately gets to work, and as he is positioning Isaac’s leg on the table, he asks him about his injury.
“Ah, baseball” He says. “When you become famous big league player, you give me ticket to your game, okay? Because I help you through first big injury, okay?” My son cracked a smile, & I was glad for that because up until that point he was looking rather grim. The X-ray tech returned to his station to began snapping pictures, & he turned to me as he did & said “You know, won’t be long before he’s big time player. My daughter was young just a time ago, now….she graduate from high school. Valedictorian. Top 3 student in her class. She going to medical school. She want to become a doctor. She go to special program at UCSF, with other young doctors. They took a picture, all of them, when they finished the course. So powerful. I’m so proud.” As you should be, I replied. I remarked on how wonderful that must make her feel, and what a hard working student she must be. “She is,” he replied. “She study many, many hours. And I bribe her sometimes, but don’t tell your son I say that. I take her to mall and let her pick out something she like. She goes off with her friends, and comes back to me when all finished. I feel happy to do that for her.” I immediately understand what he means. He is grateful that he is able to provide his daughter with items she wants. He retuned to the table to reposition my son’s ankle for another X-ray. As he did, he told us of how he & wife immigrated from Vietnam many years ago in hope that their children would have a life better than the one they left behind. A familiar story. We learned that he and his family live roughly 175 miles from the clinic, but that there was no work available in the desolate Central Valley at the time, so he made the choice to temporarily live and work in Sacramento in an effort to provide for his loved ones. He travels home only on his days off. “I miss my family,” he said. “I can’t wait to see them tomorrow. But we work hard and do whatever we have to for our children, don’t we?” Yes, I answered. Yes we do…but all the while I was thinking that this amazing soul was doing more than most. As he finished up the X-rays, he told me that his hopes are for his daughter to eventually return to Fresno country, where she grew up, and practice medicine in the communities there. “There are a lot of farmworkers in Fresno county, you know? A lot of migrant people. They need help. They need care. I tell my daughter, these people you need to give back to. They need good care.”
I nodded in agreement, fighting back tears & thinking of my paternal grandmother, who was a migrant worker. How beautiful it is to witness the telling of someone’s own story. How humbling to learn that though their background & experiences are vastly different than yours, your collective ideals are perfectly aligned. Isaac & I made our way out of the darkened room into the brightly lit hallway & I turned to thank the X-ray tech. I’m not sure if he realized, but I was thanking him for much more than his service. I was also grateful for his willingness to share his wisdom with my son & I….Perseverance. Empathy.
From urgent care, we were sent to the E.R, where the line was long & the patience of many worn thin. The first thing we noticed upon walking through the double doors was a shirtless boy, about ten years old, holding both hands to his chest in pain. I overheard his mother and grandmother asking someone for a blanket. Apparently the little one was on the basketball court at the time of injury & didn’t have time to gather his shirt before being whisked off the court. Isaac leaned my way from his wheelchair, & reminded me that I had a bag of clothes in the trunk that we were planning on donating earlier that morning. “You probably have something his size.” So, as my son talked to the nurse in triage, I ran back out to my car and searched through the sack of clothing until I found a shirt. While sprinting back across the parking lot, I saw little guy’s mom coming toward me, about to make a phone call. “Would you like a shirt for your son?” I asked. “He can have it…it’ll fit better than a blanket.” She smiled, thanked me, then held up the shirt and noted that it was just the right size. Later that night, while waiting in the hallway outside the room where my son was having his procedure, I saw the family again. Little guy was in my kids’ old shirt. He grinned & said, “I hope your son gets better real soon so he can play again!” Likewise, I replied. The compassion that children are capable of showing toward one another is a beautiful thing to behold…Consideration
As we entered the ninth hour in the E.R., I began to wilt. Isaac had been rolled into a private room for assessment, & I found myself wandering toward the cafe for some substance. Overwhelmed by the array of granola bars, yogurt parfaits, bagels, & trail mixes before me, I decided on coffee & muffin. As I paid for my selection, the cashier informed me that it was Hospital Happy Hour which meant I get a free coffee with any one purchased. Not thinking, I went back to the pour station and helped myself to another cup, with sugar and two creams. I typically drink black. I sleepily made my way back to the E.R. wondering why I’d taken the extra cup of coffee, when obviously it was just me & Isaac (who was banned from food until after his procedure). I was chiding myself for being wasteful when a young mama in the waiting room spoke to me. “If I’d have know you were going to get coffee, I’d have asked you to get me some!” she quipped as her cranky toddler twisted in her arms and pitched a crayon across the linoleum floor. I knelt to retrieve the crayon, & offered the tired mama my surplus coffee, promising her I hadn’t drank any & explaining the 2 for 1 deal. She eagerly took a sip and said, “I guess it was meant to be!” It most definitely was, as most coincidences are…Synchronicity
In short, Isaac is going to be fine. He’s young, he has the best care, & a fighter’s spirit that he most likely inherited from his family.
My faith in humanity is also going to be alright. One injury, 6 doctors, several uplifting interactions & countless assistants & volunteers reminded me how amazing the human experience can be.
And again, I’m also very, very grateful for my health insurance.