On Broken Bones
My son broke his ankle playing baseball the other day. First inning, Nokomis JV: he was running from first to third, and slid into the bag to avoid the tag–and jammed his foot on the slide. He was awarded home by the umpire when the throw went out of bounds, but needed time out in order to be poked and prodded by the coach. My first instinct, as the mother, was to leap up and go make sure my kid was all right…but he’s 16 now, and in high school, where having your mother check on you is totally not cool. So I sat, and waited for the coach or my son to tell me if my assistance was needed. Between them they decided no, and Ben staggered on home to score. In the next inning he went back out to play left field, limping a bit (his cousin, also on the team, limped out there with him for the laughs, which they got from the bleachers). In the third inning, Ben hit a double over the center fielder’s head, and legged it out; he then came out for a pinch-runner, but went back in to play the field. A single in the fifth inning meant he went 2 for 3, had 4 RBI and he or his pinch runner had scored twice. After the game was done, he informed me that his ankle was swollen and perhaps a visit to the emergency room was in order.
Yep. The ER doctor sent him for x-rays, then informed him he’d cracked the growth plate on his right ankle. He was sent home with a short cast that came halfway up his shin, a pair of crutches, and an appointment for the following week with an orthopedist. In effect, that shining game was the end of his JV baseball season, and will cause him to miss the first of the Senior League season this summer as well. Needless to say, the kid is foul-tempered about the whole deal.
This is not the first bone he’s broken, and will probably not be the last. These are the perils of playing hard, I told him (to which he agreed, but which did not comfort him at all); cautious baseball players never hurt themselves. Cautious baseball players would never make it to first on a missed third strike, nor make it from first to third on a short single to center, nor be awarded home after busting themselves up sliding into the base. Cautious players strike out, then walk back to the dugout with their heads hanging. There’s a trade-off there.
At the same time, I sympathize with his frustration, though my injuries have never been on his same level. If you don’t count the number of times I’ve broken my nose–mostly, but not
always, while playing ball–I’ve only ever broken my left pinky toe. Even that was a rather cheap injury: I was wearing sandals, walking the paths at Snow Falls in West Paris, and I stubbed my toe on a tree root. A stupid injury, but oh didn’t that hurt (I still cringe, thinking about it)…and to hurt so on account of such a ludicrous accident! In the end I didn’t need to be casted, but the doctor did opt to give me a cortisone shot: he said the shot would, in effect, allow the toe bones to ‘float’ until they healed, and relieve the pressure and thus the pain. I went for it; but I was young and stupid and never took into account that the reason the bones would float would be on account of the fluid that would cause my foot to swell. I let that doctor shoot up my left foot, then I put my shoes back on and went home…only to discover that I couldn’t get that left shoe off. Awesome.
My son does not feel that this experience equates with his at all. The orthopedist (Hi! My name’s Doctor W. Call me Jared. Do I know you? Well, if he didn’t, he will) changed Ben’s cast from a hard plaster one to a walking boot, but Ben still needs to wear it for four weeks. The kid wonders if he can take infield practice on his knees like Dustin Pedroia did summer before last. And I caught him pitching batting practice the other day.
During the weekend Ben spent on crutches, we were back at Hadlock Field for a Sea Dogs game–and nearly every usher we saw asked him about the cause of his injury. Sliding into third. Baseball guys all hang together, don’t they? Next question: were you safe? Well, duh. Ben would have stopped there, but I kept telling the whole story, since I am in awe of it. And in awe of my crazy fierce kid.