Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The fear of falling.

It was a scary couple of weeks after Queen Teen's fall. Her hand remained swollen and bruised, and even though the first set of x-rays showed no fractures, we waited anxiously for the second set to confirm. Sometimes it can take several day or weeks for a fracture to become apparent in an x-ray. Queen Teen wore a big black wrist brace and couldn't use her walker. Instead, Rick or I helped her walk.

But the worst thing was the depression. She became more sullen and moody every day. School was out for Thanksgiving break (a whole frickin week!) so there was nothing to distract her. She was mighty sick of movies after day three, and the distraction of Thanksgiving day only helped a little. By day five she was lying on her bed weeping because she couldn't find the Evil Step-Mother figurine that goes with the Cinderella. Plus, it was raining, which always puts her in a bad mood. I felt so bad for her and tried everything to keep her distracted and entertained, but when you can't even look at a book because your hand hurts too much, there isn't anything that will cheer you up. Happily, the second set of x-rays confirmed no fractures.

We all survived Thanksgiving break (mostly) and she went back to her doctor the first day of school. The doctor pushed and pulled on her wrist and hand to double check for hidden fractures or cracks, but other than a sore thumb and a couple of small bruises, Queen Teen seemed fine. She returned to school with a big grin on her face and we announced to her teachers and classmates that she was fine. She decided to keep wearing the brace though because using her walker hurt her hand without it.

Queen Teen has fallen this hard before. Three years ago she fell in the bathroom, hit her face on the sink, and knocked out a front tooth. Usually she falls about once a day, landing on her butt. Her pale skin is typically mottled with bruises, especially on her legs and feet. We've all become somewhat immune to the fear when she falls. Queen Teen curses her ataxia and gets back up on her own. Sometimes she needs help, like the day she fell into her closet and couldn't find a handhold to pull herself out. When I hear her fall in the next room, I listen closely to see if she's okay, but continue with what I'm doing. If we all didn't adapt to the worry of falling, all three of us would be drinking Vodka before 9:00 am.

But this fall felt different, because this fall scared her. Yes, she was seriously injured, which will rattle anyone, but in the days following the accident, she seemed scared to move. Not just because it hurt her wrist, but because she seemed afraid she might fall again. And I was nervous. The terror I felt when we thought she may have broken her wrist was oppressive. I still can't shake off the fear, the thought that she didn't break anything... this time. What about next time? What if she breaks her leg? She and I clung to each other a lot more than usual, and not just because of the injury or the fact that she needed more help. Our confidence in her ability to always get back up when she fell was shattered.

Queen Teen recovered more quickly than I did. One morning I heard her try to walk to the bathroom on her own, heard her shout "Whoa!" as she began to fall. I jumped out of bed and ran to her side, scolding her to wait for me, to be careful, to not fall down. She let me help, and for a few days I heard her say to herself, "You have to wait for help. You can't do it by yourself."

Shit... have I just made it worse by telling her she can't?

Luckily, Queen Teen isn't a girl who sits and waits for long. She started moving around her room on her own again by holding on to the furniture, and once the second x-rays showed no fractures, I let her. I had to force myself to go back into the other room and let her walk alone. She had to prove to herself she could do it, that she was safe, that she was strong. I had to clamp down on my fear that she would fall again. I had to have faith in her ability to keep getting up.

Today when I took her to school, several of her classmates came out to the car to greet her. They wanted to help. So I brought the walker to her as she got out of the car and allowed two of her girlfriends to guide her into the class. Watching them closely, my heart pounded and I had to force myself not to hover. Queen Teen walked into the class and she was quickly surrounded by a large group of friends who said hi, patted her on the back, touched her hand, asked her if it still hurt, was she okay, could they help. Her aid then entered, looking a little frazzled that she hadn't been there to help Queen Teen inside. This was where QT feel, so the staff and teachers are very nervous about having her walk into the class on her own. I understand, but I have to let her do it. And with that many students surrounding her, supporting her, making her feel safe, I know they won't let her fall.

Queen Teen knows that too. 

1 comment:

Mother of Chaos said...

Aww - poor QT. And poor mommy. That whole thing just stank on ice. :(

Glad she's back to school, where the distractions are!