My gut churned with anxiety and dislike when I saw it.
From the outside, it’s hard to understand why. It’s pretty; purple with butterflies. It had been made with care to fit the exact proportions for whom it was made. There were thoughtful additions to make it more comfortable. It was even adjusted to fit more easily, more perfectly.
I hated it.
For the professional who had made it, and the two people there to make sure I was prepared to apply it and monitor it properly, it was a tool.
For me, it was a symbol. Of failure. Of guilt. Of something I had wanted to spare my child-being the other.
“It” is my daughter’s leg brace.
I was going to post a picture of it, but I can’t find my camera. Maybe later this week.
I try to keep perspective-that it’s probably going to be less than a year and it’s unlikely to be more than one.
But I hate that anyone might look at her and feel pity, the way I smile outwardly and feel pity inwardly when I see a kid using braces or in a wheelchair.
And I can’t quite let go of the fact that I feel responsible. If we had taken the skin mottling more seriously maybe we would have gone to the ER on that Saturday when it didn’t get lighter. If we had looked at her lethargy and seen illness instead of the “post growth spurt coma” that we were told was normal around day 5/6 of life and as it was her 6th, maybe we would have gone to the ER on Sunday. What if I didn’t listen to the nurse on call that night and had taken her to the ER at 2am instead of listening to them and waiting until morning? Worst of all, what if we hadn’t had an appointment until 4pm on Monday instead of getting the 10am appointment we got? I know if I had acted later-even 5 hours later, she would have died. If I had acted earlier, would she still have had the stroke? If she hadn’t had the stroke we wouldn’t have needed the helmet and she wouldn’t now need the brace.
I’m working on this in therapy as best I can and generally I’ve done okay, but when it comes to things like this, I can’t let go of the guilt and the self-directed anger.
Luckily, Elanor is little and not at all self-conscious. Within seconds of being put on her feet, she was walking around and not doing any of the falling we had been warned she would experience.
Watching her, I let go of a little of the fear and anger and doubt…..
Moments later she was running…braced by butterflies