I have a confession to make. I’ve been freaking out for about a month. My heart was pounding in my ear. My jaw was clenched so tight I needed a locksmith for meals. I regularly had to tell myself to breathe in and breathe out, rinse and repeat. Having just started a new job, a full time position with a big company, something I’ve never done in my life (benefits, days off, health insurance, a steady paycheck, hallelujah) it’s been hard to keep my mind on this amazing opportunity pouring out in front of me when I thought for even a second about Aleck’s upcoming casting. I mean both arms, in hard casts, and I can’t just wrap him in bubble wrap?!? He’s got new teachers, he doesn’t have an aid but they have a student teacher, Annalisa won’t be there to play defensive tackle! Craig won’t be around 24-7 with his cat like reflexes, and I won’t be there at all. What if he falls? He’s going to fall. What if he falls? He’s going to fall. Will he break something? What’s a safe way to fall with two arms in hard casts? He’s going to be so top heavy. His balance is going to be completely off, he’s going to fall. Jameson on the rocks please…make that a double.
We planned it just right though. He’ll start the process after the big family reunion in Ann Arbor and for one month of hard casts he’ll be done in time for Halloween, and in plenty of time for the winter. But how are we going to get him dressed? How is he going to sleep? How is he going to play? How is going to deal? How are we doing to deal?
It’ll be fine. He’ll be fine. It’s just for one month. He’s adaptable, he’ll deal. They said we should do both together. Like a bandaid. They said one month of misery is easier than 2-3 months. It’ll all be done before the winter. It’ll be fine.
The weekend before the casting we are in Ann Arbor with our family and everyone is asking about this upcoming treatment. It’s only Friday night and every time I talk about it I can feel a suffocating squeezing sensation in my chest. One Jameson on the rocks please. Then more family join, it’s still just Friday night, we update them on what we’ll be doing. Can I get another Jameson please? That night we are hanging out with my cousin Stephen. We spent a good portion of our childhood together, living just a few New Jersey suburbs away, and as children he always felt more like a brother than a cousin. The kids are asleep and we’re having our usual pow wow, catching up on each other’s lives. He missed the Friday night dinner so we start telling him about what’s coming down the pipeline and there’s that suffocating feeling again. He looks at both of us and says, “Why don’t you just do one arm at a time?” Right? I mean really. The concerns the doctors had were maybe we’d lose the nerve to do both of them, or maybe Aleck would be so traumatized we wouldn’t be able to get that many castings out of him. But our will is strong, our nerves have developed a lovely layer of solid cold steel over them, it’s been that kind of a journey. The relief flooded us so strongly I could feel my body settling into a healthier rhythm. All it took was someone who was just a few feet further away from our situation to point out the obvious. When we got home we emailed the doctor and the OT and Craig filled an order for Valium since Aleck’s a little young for Jameson.
Just hours before rabbis across the continent began their mournful cries of Kol Nidre, Aleck was getting his first cast completed on his left arm and there was very little crying in his camp. The 1/2 tablet of valium delilcately crushed into one of his favorite desserts, chocolate pudding, really did the trick. His OT Kristen, who usually can’t get near his elbows for even a simple stretch, was using his arms to put on a small puppet show to his delight. She used a very thin style of cast that we could easily remove if anything went wrong when we got home. It’s still hard as a rock and when he swings that little arm at me and makes contact while trying to bash his lovies, it smarts. Of course this led to an entire conversation about which arm he should use for hitting:
“My soft arm I should use to hit, not my hard arm.”
“Well Aleck, you shouldn’t hit with any of your arms…”.
“But my soft arm won’t hurt so I should use my soft arm.”
“Yes, your soft arm won’t hurt but you shouldn’t hit with any arm.”
And so on.
He slept through the night like a champ so we dragged his little tush to Yom Kippur services so we could spend the day with my family and see Craig’s family for break fast. Since the cast was so thin we could actually dress him in the clothes just hanging in his closet. It was amazing. His button up shirt covered almost the entire cast which made for much less of a scene walking through the incredibly packed halls of Beth El. We were all well rested, though the effects of the Valium seemed to still be draining Aleck, and he even lasted through the rabbi’s sermon, a challenge for most adults around us. He even went down for a nap easily and took a really good one which allowed the rest of us to visit and unwind together.
And it’s been like that ever since. When people walk into our house he proudly holds up his cast to show them all what he has and explains how it’s for his elbows. He then goes into a full explanation of how he wanted it in green but they only had white and that’s OK and he doesn’t want to decorate it, he’s going to keep it white. And so on.
Next week we’ll start the second round, still on his left arm. And it might not end after that one. Kristin wants to keep going until we can get the most range out of each arm without extreme pain or ongoing discomfort. We are in full support. He’s not going to be out of casts for Halloween. He may still be in a cast for Thanksgiving. Our timeline is completely thrown but our souls are at peace. Turns out this casting thing is easy peasy lemon squeezy so far and we are so relieved.