Monday, October 28, 2013

Crutches Again!

My 10 year old gymnast is on crutches... again.   I had to pull out every ounce of college psych classes & mama intuition to get my daughter out the door this morning.   The mama bear in me rails against a sport where ice packs and x-rays are a regular thing and my daughter comes home from practice with bleeding palms!   But she lives for this and LOVES it.   "It's my THING." she passionately says when I frequently ask her if it's too much.

So, I drive her to practice & far flung meets , hand wash the leos, load her up on vitamins, calcium and healthy foods and help her heal.   We have a freezer full of ice packs of varying sizes and configurations and a pile of ace bandages, knee, ankle & wrist wraps and chewable Ibuprofen.   We also go through tubes of arnica and tiger balm like you wouldn't believe.

Late last Thursday night Sage came out of a flip and landed full force on her right knee.   Despite 3 days of R.I.C.E.-- rest, ice, compression, and elevation, her knee is STILL swollen.   I should have minored in sports medicine instead of theatre arts!

She's only broken her ankle once... way back in 1st grade, during gymnastics practice.   But boy have we gotten our money's worth out of those crutches.   We've broken them out for several sprained ankles, a prior swollen knee requiring an MRI, and a lingering foot injury dubbed an "overuse" impact injury.  The sparkly competition leotards may be pretty, but it's TOUGH to be a gymnast.   These girls are unquestionably athletes.  And it's TOUGH physically & psychologically for an athlete to be hobbled.   

Photo Credit:  Kenaz-Mara for

Sage is used to being mighty, strong and fast.   And it's mortifying to her to appear helpless.   This morning she almost refused to go to school because she hates showing up on crutches so much.    Her school is 100 years old and not handicapped accessible  and she's on the 3rd floor with a zillion stairs to go up and down for art (basement), lunch, recess etc.!   So it's a Sisyphus worthy challenge to get up and down them multiple times a day. 

At least she can articulate what she's feeling.
She told me:

"I hate it when people make a big deal out of my crutches.   They'll say, oh no.   Again?!   What happened." (Sure enough... as soon as we pulled up in the car... verbatim!)  

Well, your friends care about you!   

"It makes me feel weak & helpless to show up on crutches."

You brought in your blue ribbons & 1st place medals last week, so your classmates KNOW you're not weak and helpless.   And what if you were? So what?   Plenty of kids are permanently in wheel chairs or differently abled and they deal.   You have many other talents and abilities.   This experience will give you more empathy for how others feel who aren't strong or who are injured.

"I hate asking other people for help, but I need them to help me get stuff and carry things."

Others LOVE a chance to be helpful.   You're giving them the gift of feeling useful and needed.

"Can I pleeeeeeaaaaaase not bring the crutches.   All the attention and questions make me uncomfortable."

Sure.   You can leave them at home, but... if staying off your knee helps you heal in time to compete and walking on it doesn't, is that a sacrifice you're willing to make?   You're OK with sitting out the next meet to avoid using your crutches a few days?

"No!   I don't want that."

Well OK then.

It's still not easy, but hopefully some of it sinks in.  Fortunately her next meet isn't until Nov 9th, so we're in recovery mode.   Fingers crossed that she heals fast.   If your daughter or friends end up on crutches, it may be helpful for them to role play out some of their frustration with dolls or stuffed animals.   Many of Sage's American Girl dolls are gymnast who frequently end up playing out scenarios with each other involving crutches, wraps and even casts. 

1 comment:

  1. Shout out to the wonderful parents of The Romeoville Tumbleweeds. We had a meet there in September and Sage hit the vault hard on the back of her thigh and really got hurt. So many people came by to wrangle up ice packs, ask if she was OK, and commiserate. I thanked you in person, but want to thank you in public as well! Sometimes meets can be cliquish and competitive and the parents aren't generally overly friendly with the visiting teams. But everyone was soooo wonderful and helpful that weekend. It made a world of difference. Thanks again!