“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” -Henry David Thoreau
Here’s the scoop if you’re in a rush: my five-year-old son is becoming a super hero. It’s important that you know, especially if we’re lucky enough to see you on a somewhat regular basis. Some may think superheroes are just fiction, but I showed Luke clips of Batkid in San Fran last November and that’s all the proof he needed.
I guess I haven’t discussed Luke’s upcoming surgery much with others for a few reasons. Probably the biggest is that he is extremely intuitive and picks up on the attitudes of others easily. He also catches every word uttered about him within 100 yards. (Further proof that he “selectively” hears mom’s requests. Please put your shoes on…please. PLEASE! SHOES! NOW!) We have chosen to turn his surgery and recovery period into the biggest adventure possible, and I’ve been reluctant to allow others to share their opinions for fear they might influence Luke’s attitude. For example, our nurse this morning said several times, “Oh, you’re going to have a loooooong Spring.” Not helpful.
I also might as well admit that discussing Luke’s hip operation makes me uncomfortable because it feels so personal. We’re still exploring what (genetic or otherwise) caused Joel’s brain to form so uniquely, but we know for sure that Luke’s hip formation of coxa vara was inherited from me. My dad, a cousin, one nephew, and I have all had hips reconstructed at various points in our lives. I remember being seven and stuck in a cast during a large chunk of one hot summer. I don’t remember previous surgeries very well. My lack of flexibility and annoying arthritis frustrate me daily. I’m also positive that I would be *just a bit* taller if my hip joints weren’t so unusual. (Just kidding. Maybe.) But all of my self-image and guilt issues aren’t really the point of this post, anyway. They also haven’t stopped me from having a pretty fantastic life. (That sounds pretentiously Pollyanna-ish, but it’s true!)
I realized that Luke’s hips were different when he was quite young, and we confirmed with an orthopedic surgeon that his right hip won the lottery when he was about 20 months old. Of course I thought it was just horrible at the time…my precious, perfect firstborn had a “problem”! [Yes, I eschew usage of the words “defect”, “deformity”, “malformation”, etc. because I believe words have the power to color our attitudes.] But that was B.J. (Before Joel), before I realized what true challenges are, and before I grasped that everyone has (or will have) obstacles. Some people are just better at hiding or ignoring them.
In ten days Luke will have reconstructive surgery on both hips because his funky right hip has thrown the left hip into the opposite formation of coxa valga. (Joel and his other non-weight-bearing friends are also “at risk” of developing coxa valga, so he is followed by the same surgeon. Ortho thinks we’re interesting!) Luke will likely be in the hospital for a few days and then come home with a brace or cast to stabilize the hips and pelvis as they heal. We’ve been told a brace will mean about 4 weeks on and a cast will mean about 6 weeks before it’s removed. Then he’ll begin physical therapy. Other than that, I don’t know much because the team keeps reminding us that they don’t see many typically developing kids. So everything will be a bit of a surprise, including whether he receives a brace or cast!
But it’s important that you don’t forget he’s becoming a super hero. I like the name “Lukeman”, but I think he’s going for “Super Luke” and I don’t believe Super Joel will sue for copyright infringement. It seems to me that all super heroes have some struggle/pain/loss/hurdle/something they’ve had to overcome to get their super powers. And haven’t we all?
P.S. – When I think of true strength and pure tenacity, I think of my dad (a.k.a. “Pizza Grandpa”) who TURNS 80 TOMORROW! (Happy Birthday, Dad!!!) He is tough, and Luke and I *might* have also inherited our ridiculously stubborn natures and love of movies from him.
P.P.S. – I have to thank our family and friends who have already offered help with Joel and meals during Luke’s recovery. We know we are so lucky to have each of you…what a gift you are to our little fam! MANY, MANY THANKS!!! [Sidenote: Super Luke also doesn’t know how lucky he is to have streaming video, multiple touchscreen devices, and countless toys at his fingertips during this time. Back in my day…well, you get the picture. Homie is spoiled. Do not feel sorry for him! ;)]