On Injuries and Holding Patterns

Michele Weldon | December 14, 2009

As we idled in the waiting room for an MRI at West Suburban Hospital a week ago, a young man seated next to Colin said, "You're the 125 pounder from Oak Park." Colin nodded.

Apparently the young man was a football player at Proviso West High School who was there for a check on his broken hand just out of a cast, an injury he had gotten in football. He recognized Colin because he had wrestled his friend a few weeks earlier. And won. It made the hour wait for the MRI on his knee bearable.

Just before what would be his fifth time in varsity competition at Notre Dame High School two Saturdays ago, Colin twisted his knee in warm-ups in the morning. I was at home with an electrician-- the lights were flickering throughout the house, half the house had no electricity. It seemed like whatever was wrong was spreading. The stove wasn't working, the lights in the family room and the basement would come up, go down, go off. It was weird. But it couldn't wait.

At the suggestion of the NI-Cor Gas guy who came out the night before, I turned off the heating system and the furnace, since the blower was not kicking on. Better cold than sorry.

It got down to 50 degrees in the house Friday night; Colin had an electric blanket in his room; I had extra comforters. I took Colin to the bus at the high school at 6:45 the next morning. The electrician showed up at 8. He discovered that Com-Ed had changed the outside box to my house a few weeks earlier and the connectors were loose. OK, this is not exactly how he explained but it's close. The wires outside were hissing and sparking, the electrician said. Great. He fixed it.

Colin texted me at 9:02: "I hurt my knee, mom. I'm really sorry for the series of unfortunate events."

Seconds later, Caryn texted me. "Colin hurt his knee."

He would need an x-ray. We would go that afternoon. After waiting for an hour or so at the immediate care center near the house, or what I call the drive-through doc, Colin got an X-ray. No break.

Monday morning I got an appointment with the orthopedic who works with the high school team. Not the same doctor who operated on Brendan; he was harder to get in to see. I wanted to know right away. We needed to go to the orthopedic to get an MRI.

The doc examined Colin and said he could wrestle if the MRI showed no miniscus or ACL tear. But he needed a week or so off, to let the swelling go down, to let it heal. So we went downstairs in the hospital out-patient center and waited. And waited some more. It was nearly 6 p.m.; I had picked Colin up at the high school at 3:15. The waiting room was crowded.

The technician handed me a CD-rom with the MRI and I called the doctor's office. They were gone for the day. I would drop it off first thing in the morning before heading to work. We stopped at the Jerusalem Cafe for chicken shwarma and hummus. And falafal. The Middle Eastern answer to french fries.

Coach Powell wanted to know right away the results.

For the past week Colin has been icing and taking Advil. Some days it seems better, some days not. When the doctor finally got back to me Thursday, he said it was a bruise on his knee and the MRI did not show a miniscus tear. But it still hurts him. I don't know if Colin will wrestle Thursday. He will be more upset if he can't. He is already extremely frustrated.

I know what it is like to wait. To wait for results, to be on hold for someone else's decision. Whether it is news on a torn miniscus or a broken heart, a promotion or a test, sometimes you are on hold and you have no choice.

You can be anxious and you can be tearful. You can just move ahead and move on.

"It's not in your control," Powell said to Colin when he called him last night to say his knee still hurt.

Knee or heart, that's a very hard lesson to learn.

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Comments (2)
  1. This is a very interesting story. Parents of all sport playing children are faced with injury being a major conern. I think that a poor example is set by professional players playing injured and continuing to play hurt. I endorse this book.

  2. It’s always to “catch up” with Michele and what’s happening in her life. Like her, I have played the waiting game and it’s so difficult. I want to remember “you can just move ahead and move on.”


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