By: Sheila Gaudet
As the mom to two busy boys, I expect my fair share of bumps and bruises, jokes that involve potty humor and the sharp pain in your foot you get from stepping on lego pieces. A little over a week ago I got one of those calls. The ones you prepare yourself for. The “Hi, this is ________. Don’t worry, your child is ok, however, we had to take them to the Emergency Room.” The only surprise was that this was not about either of my children. It was about my husband.
Let me preface this by saying that it was Friday afternoon and I left the house for about two hours to run a few errands, pick up some groceries, and prepare for a nice, quiet evening at home. My husband was actually going to be home for the weekend, we had a full day of activities planned for Saturday with the kids and were going to drive to Springfield on Sunday morning to watch my nephew play in a hockey tournament and visit with my brother and dad, who all live in upstate NY. I hadn’t seen them for about a year and had planned this meeting months ago. Somehow I left to go run the errands without my cell phone. It was two hours…what could happen? Well, apparently a lot.
I walked in the door, arms loaded with bags of groceries to find a note from my teenage son. As I start reading the note on the back of the envelope on the kitchen table, he comes trotting down and says, “don’t be mad.” I read further. The note says, “Josh (my husband) broke his leg. Hospital number is xxx.” I look at my son and say, “You’re kidding.” I will leave out some other things I said, however, the short story is that my husband had gone in to the base today to submit some paperwork for a travel reimbursement. He told me he was working a half day. Apparently, as part of his “physical training” (aka PT time in military speak) his squadron and others played a little game of “Frugby,” a combination of rugby and football. He would make you think this was a casual pickup game. However, I now know the truth: that he has cleats for this activity and they also have some very nice practice jerseys they wear for each team.
Eventually, I reach my husband (though not through the hospital phone number he left) and after a series of phone calls determine he broke his ankle–in three places. He tells me to come and get him from the ER an hour away. I get my son and head out the door to get a mile down the road and get another call. Change in plans! He is being admitted and having surgery that evening. I turn around, pack him a bag and head out again. Somewhere in the midst of all this I get a call from his supervisor who is quick to tell me that he won the game for his team and they saved the game ball for him. He also tells me he got hurt playing football last year and his wife wasn’t very happy about it. Really. I’m shocked. I think he was hoping this would mitigate my irritation. It didn’t.
So instead of my peaceful Friday night, I picked up my younger son from after-school care, drove the hour to the hospital, and made arrangements for my older son to get to his out of town soccer game the next day on the way. We get to the hospital and traverse multiple floors because no one seems to be able to tell me where, exactly, he is. He is not in the ER. He is not in his room. He is “somewhere in between.” Eventually I tracked him to the operating room. He came through the surgery fine and is now home for about 12 weeks. He is unable to work either job since he cannot put weight on his foot and that is a requirement for a pilot! That means that we are home together….a lot. While there are many nice things about this, it has also been a challenge.
We have never been in the same place for more than 4 days at a time. He cannot sit still and yet cannot do the simple things without help like carry a drink since he’s on crutches. I’m trying to do my “normal” stuff while making sure he doesn’t tumble down one of the multiple sets of stairs he insists on using. I’m very used to running things with the kids my way since he is gone so much. We are all making adjustments. There is the financial stress from him being out of work for so long and the injury forcing him to miss an upgrade class that we’ve been waiting for him to attend for six months that will result in a pay increase.
The good news is that this is an injury that he should recover from, at least almost completely, so we know there is an end in sight. It has given us the opportunity to learn about each other during times of adversity and yet will probably make his upcoming deployment (assuming that he recovers enough to deploy) more difficult for all the time we are spending together. The bad news is that it has placed a lot more responsibility on me for projects we had planned for this spring, since we just moved into this house last summer. My kids have had to adapt to pitching in more and having less help in some ways, more supervision in others.
It is a good thing that I love my husband and probably a good thing that he loves me, as I’m sure that I haven’t been the most patient person to be around. I try to tell myself that this is a blessing in disguise, this extra time together. As a relatively new “family unit,” we are all still learning our roles and dealing with the challenges of merging families and our own identities. The injury could have been so much worse. I try and find the humor in having a husband who broke his leg playing football. However, the next time I get a call about someone getting hurt playing sports, it better be one of the kids!