Wednesday, May 23, 2012
I remember her first pair of leg braces, purple and green polka dotted and shoved into large black orthotic shoes that were supposed to mimic mary-janes but instead looked like miniature Frankenstein footwear. They didn’t fit right, in fact none of them since have. The Botox didn’t work either. Who knows if this most recent surgery will?
I fired her new physical therapy team when they wanted her to spend 30 minutes blowing bubbles with her left (affected) hand. I’m pretty sure we can do that at home. What I want is impossible, it is unfair for me to blame a 20 something physical therapist used to working with the idle rich on their tendonitis and knee strains for being unable to perform a miracle.
I watch her without her braces, without the bulky temporary cast. She is wearing her bright blue swimsuit complete with a hot pink skirt jauntily tied around her waist. She gingerly tiptoes over the uneven rocks of the local splash park. Bright red scar on the back of her calf gleaming in the brutal sunshine. Her posture is bent, her steps small and deliberate. She doesn’t see the other kids coming, whizzing past on her left side, until it is too late and they’ve thrown her into the railing. She doesn’t fall; she stops and deliberately rights herself, scanning the landscape for a safe escape.
I want to run and help her but know she has to try herself. I ignore the jagged steps half her size, the sharp angles of the fountains, the dangerous drops and treacherous sculptures. I close my eyes picturing her tumbling down down down but make myself stop. She is unsure; she grips the railing like a vice with her right hand, wrapping her elbow around the hot metal, knowing she can’t make it past the place where the railing dissolves into high concrete steps and leads to the place she wants to go and instead hobbles and hops to a safe place to rest. She knows she can’t follow the others.
She knows. She knows now. She speaks in her toddler dialect, asking why her left hand won’t open, telling me that she can’t do things like swing on the big-kid swings as she points to her curled fist. She gathers objects, careful to never take more than her right arm can hold. She is fearful of our back patio steps, crying out “hold you, hold you!” (her words for asking us to carry her). She has panic attacks when she feels trapped at the playground, when she can’t hear us calling and thinks we’ve disappeared, or when she can’t seem to see us because we are too far beyond her peripheral vision. People stare she screams so loud. I wish I could say I don’t care but I want to explain it isn’t her fault, it isn’t our bad parenting it was an accident, an injury, a bad decision, or a bunch of bad decisions, a punishment, a disaster, fate or I don’t even know what.
I don’t want to look her in the eyes because her beseeching gaze paralyzes me. I want to let her lazily bounce her hand out the open window me feeling the relief of having nearly escaped the burden of time always pressing down on my shoulders and she tasting the New England summer air.