Friday, July 1, 2016

Active Rest

Early in June our sports-loving, baseball playing kiddo told me, before bed one Friday night, as we were praying together and I was tucking him in, that his elbow really hurt. This kid has a pretty high pain threshold, so I probably should have taken it a bit more seriously right off the bat (no pun intended), but in true "seasoned mom" fashion, I told him to take it easy and see how it felt in a couple days. I promptly forgot about it and started thinking about all the other things taking up mental space in my brain these days. Well, a few days later he told me that it still hurt. And I could tell he meant it. So I made him an appointment at the pediatrician for the next day. She looked at it, asked him some questions and got him an x-ray. Since there are growth plate issues to consider with an elbow in a pre-pubescent kid, and since she is a pediatrician and not a radiologist or orthopedic doc, she said she'd have to consult with a radiologist and get back to me with the verdict. I got a call the next day that the radiologist wanted us to head to an orthopedic clinic to have him seen by a specialist there because it looked like the bone had pulled away from the growth plate. (Sounds super painful to me!) So we we made an appointment at the orthopedic clinic with a guy who specializes in elbows and works quite a bit with baseball players. In the hours between the explanation of the concerns of the radiologist and the appointment with the orthopedic doc, I googled a bit about elbow growth plate injuries. That was probably not the best idea! It just got me worried and certain we would have surgery, or at the very least be down for the count for the rest of summer. And this was approximately 2 hours into summer vacation (quite literally -- school got out at 11 for the year and the orthopedic appointment was at 1:30)

At this point we are now about a week out from the first complaint about elbow pain and, tough, determined kid that he is, he has played in 2 baseball games since the pain started. At the appointment with the elbow guy we got a diagnosis of Medial Epicondyle Apophysitis, which meant nothing at all to me, but sounded like something you should take seriously! The lay term for what was causing the pain is "Little Leaguer's Elbow". Sometimes it comes on all at once, with one long throw of the ball or swing of a bat . . . but this case seemed to be more of the repetitive use version, since there didn't seem to be one particular "event" that prompted the onset of the pain. Thankfully there was no splint, cast, or surgery required. Just "active rest". No throwing. No batting. Less strenuous activities like swimming and biking were fine, but I assumed that the baseball season was pretty much over at that point. Turns out that was a naive assumption on my part. I should have known better, after all the years I have known this particular child!

A few pre-injury baseball pictures :: 

Within 24 hours of the diagnosis, we were at a sporting goods store buying a glove for his right hand, so he could learn to play as a lefty. Without missing a beat (or a game) he continued playing. (No batting still, though.) Even though he was out of the batting order, he was fielding with surprising accuracy and power as a lefty. I guess it is advantageous to have a left-handed first baseman, so that is what he has played most in the games since his injury. He is one determined kid. As hard as that particular trait can be to parent, at times, I know it will serve him well in life. He made up his mind to do something and he did it. (Hopefully with no life-long damage to an important part of his body that he would appreciate having full use of for the rest of his days!)

We are coming to the last week before our re-check. We have an orthopedic appointment again at the end of this coming week. New x-ray and exam. I know it will not go smoothly if anything less than an "all clear" is given at this appointment. So we are hopeful that time and rest would have done the healing work that is needed to get back into life at 100% (if not a bit more!).

But the past few weeks, I have been giving extra thought to the idea of "active rest". I think there are some areas of my life that could use a bit of active rest. Not completely down for the count across the board, but intentionally avoiding some things in areas that are "injured" in my life and giving them the time and space to heal a bit. Maybe you have areas that could use some active rest too. Think on it a bit and see.

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