So this happened this week.
My 13-year-old son, Jacob, was playing goalie in a soccer game and got injured punting a ball. When he flung his left leg into the air to kick, he says he heard something pop and immediately fell down to the ground. When he tried to get up, the pain was so severe he couldn’t move.
I was at the game with my 7-year-old, Eli, but Wilson was at 9-year-old Aden’s soccer game in another town. I felt a sense of dread as I watched the coaches kneeling next to Jacob trying to assess the injury. I willed him to get up– as I have hundreds of times before– but when he didn’t, I jogged over to see him.
He was weepy and whimpering, grabbing his thigh and stamping his fist on the ground in frustration.
I felt helpless.
Jacob told the coaches that on a scale from 1 to 10, his pain level was a 9. When they asked to carry him to the sidelines to rest, he winced and said he couldn’t move. Although he was able to wiggle his toes and it didn’t look like any bones were out-of-place, none of us wanted to move him.
With Wilson gone, everyone was looking to me to decide whether we needed to call an ambulance. Although I worried about whether it was necessary, I didn’t think we had any choice since no one wanted to move him off the field without knowing the extent of the injuries.
A policeman, a firefighter, and an EMT were at the field within a few minutes. The EMT checked his hip and legs and asked him many questions before gingerly putting him on the stretcher. When I looked over at the other parents, I could feel their worry, which made my heart sink. My gut feeling was that he was fine, but the gravity of the situation was humbling. A bunch of thoughtful soccer moms gathered Jacob’s bag and my purse and many offered to take Eli. As I spoke to them, the conversation felt out-of-body and cloudy.
My friend, Tami, said she would take Eli in my car and meet us at the hospital while I rode with Jacob in the ambulance. It was a quick and quiet ride and although all the color had drained from his face and he looked like he was in pain, I could tell he was already feeling better. The emergency guys were so sweet and easy with him, they set a tone of calm that I needed in the surreal experience. (They were also very cute and in spectacular shape, but I digress.)
After about two hours in the hospital– spent mostly waiting– he had X-rays and pain medication and they determined he had no broken bones but likely strained either his groin or thigh muscle, or both.
We were grateful it wasn’t anything worse– especially since he just started spring soccer and baseball season. The hospital gave him crutches and told him to rest for a few days.
I was relieved. Jacob– like any normal teenager– was annoyed and frustrated that he can’t move easily or play sports with his friends and teammates.
It was my first time riding in an ambulance, but my boys have been in the hospital at least 6 times. I guess it’s par for the course with 3 active boys– but it’s not something I’ll ever get used to. Do moms of girls make as many visits to the ER?
That brief moment of worry and seeing really sick people in the hospital was a reminder of how lucky we are to have healthy kids.
One of the silver linings of the experience was how Jacob’s brothers rallied around him when he was hurt. On the way to the hospital, Tami told me Eli kept telling her to drive faster and was rubbing his hands together repeatedly muttering “Please, don’t die, please don’t die...”
She pulled over and explained to him that that was not going to happen and once Eli saw Jacob sitting up in the hospital, he felt much better. Aden rushed into the house as soon as he got home from his game and blew past me to get to Jacob’s side to make sure he was ok.
Despite the typical bickering, jealousy, and indifference, those boys love each other. Sometimes it takes a strained muscle to drive that home.