After four hours in an ER yesterday, we got the diagnosis of flat feet for Mary Tyler Son. Hallelujah!
I had started noticing a slight limp about ten days ago. Mary Tyler Dad didn’t see it. My brain is hard wired for fear, so I tried not to worry. When it started, it was more like a slapping of his foot down on the floor. It morphed into a limp as the days progressed. And it would come and go, too. When I asked the afternoon crew at his school last week, they had not seen it. That limp stayed on my radar, but I tried not to worry.
Last spring, the boy had injured his foot after repeatedly jumping off a two foot rock into the grass below. He limped then, too. While I couldn’t tie this limp to an incident like rock jumping, I told myself it was nothing. It was not cancer, it was not brain cancer, it was nothing. I kept trying to tell myself that.
One of Donna’s first symptoms was a limping walk, that quickly morphed into needing to hang onto things for support. Limping touches some nerves around these parts.
Honestly, I was proud of myself for being able to manage the anxities associated with this limp. I didn’t freak out too much when Mary Tyler Son awoke in the middle of the night on Monday, whimpering about foot pain. I breathed deeply and gave him some ibuprofen. I resolved that if the limp still existed next week, I would follow-up with something then, hoping against hope that it would simply disappear.
Yesterday, after dropping him off at school and on my way into the office, I got a call. It was Mary Tyler Son’s teacher, “Everything is just fine, your boy is great, but we have all noticed a limp and we think he might need different shoes.”
BOOM! Her words cut me like a thousand sharp blades. Those words so closely resembled the words of Donna’s babysitter when her symptoms started in March 2007. I had started to notice some slight changes in Donna before others had, but one day, picking Donna up in the afternoon, her sitter said, “You know, she’s having some trouble walking. I think she needs new shoes.” BOOM!
I quickly explained to the teacher that the shoes were not the issue, that I had noticed limping for over a week and that I would consult a doctor ASAP, which I did. Before I got into the office, I had an appointment for yesterday afternoon. Then I made the mistake of Googling, “acute limping in three year old.” The words ‘leukemia’ and ‘osteosarcoma,’ bone cancer, kept popping up. I could not ignore them. As I have described before in Donna’s Cancer Story, that seed of fear in my stomach morphed into a watermelon in approximately 1.7 seconds.
That, my friends, is PTSD in action.
This is the fourth scare we have had with Mary Tyler Son in the three years since Donna has died. The first was a series of early morning headaches, a dangerous sign of brain tumors in young children. Those just mysteriously disappeared. The second was limping coupled with what looked like petachaie, a common symptom in leukemia. That turned out to be hand, foot and mouth disease. Last spring’s limping was the third scare. And now this.
Each of these scares has resulted in nothing other than the healthy boy we enjoy today. Mary Tyler Son is growing, strong, funny, and smart. He is so much like his sister in so many ways. And so different in so many ways, too.
I went to the ER knowing that if we went to our local pediatrician, the tests that would be ordered could not be performed at 3:15 on a Thursday afternoon. We would have to wait. And wonder. Waiting and wondering are not things I tolerate well. Not me. I catastrophize. I imagine the worst. Yes, I go there. I always go there, and I suspect I always will. I go there because of the PTSD that cancer left as a parting gift. The grief and sadness were not enough. Sigh.