December brought some extra challenges into our lives. It happened on December 2nd, when Gili took Neil skiing on their second day of the season. Neil was excited about skiing and was keen to go. I wasn’t able to go with them and was home when they returned. It seemed odd to me that Gili was carrying Neil to give me a hug and then he told me that Neil had injured himself and can’t put weight on his leg. I would never have guessed, since Neil seemed to be in a good mood… Since it was a few hours since the fall and he still couldn’t put weight on his leg we were starting to get worried. After consulting over the phone with our on-call doctor we decided to head to the Children’s Hospital emergency room for the first time in our life.
After a few hours, lots of waiting, and one x-ray we were told that Neil has a toddler’s fracture. It’s quite a common injury with, well you guessed it, toddlers, and we were told we shouldn’t be too worried – he should be able to walk again in 2-3 weeks max. They decided not to put a cast on it for reasons I won’t get into here. So we walked out of the hospital into a new reality for the next few weeks at least – a toddler that cannot walk, run, bike, ski, jump, climb, slide, and well basically everything that at least our energetic toddler just LOVES doing. So we knew we’d have to be creative for the next few weeks and come up with activities for an active toddler that can’t be so active…
A Ride on the SkyTrain
Neil loves the SkyTrain and going on a trip on the SkyTrain always makes him happy. Since we’ve taken the SkyTrain to the airport quite a few times we decided to take a different line this time, towards Surrey, and make it into a “SkyTrain trip” combined with Indian food. It was actually only a day after Neil was injured and we thought it would be a good way to get his mind off the injury and enjoy the day. The ride to Surrey is also quite scenic and mostly above ground so Neil could enjoy the view. Then once in Surrey we found a really good Indian restaurant and had lunch before taking the SkyTrain back to Vancouver.
The pool is a good activity also for non-injured toddlers but it was one of the few activities that Neil could continue to enjoy almost as usual. Gili took him to the pool, either the UBC pool or the Aquatic Centre and Neil enjoyed kicking in the water, floating and even going down the little slide with Gili’s support.
Cross Country Skiing
Neil’s injury actually brought back to life our love for cross country skiing. Since downhill skiing was out of reach for him we decided we’d check out the cross county area. Neil was cozy in the trailer while Gili pulled him along and he was able to play in the snow a bit too. Neil was a bit frustrated that he couldn’t do more in the snow, but at least it got us into the habit of cross country skiing, and we’ve actually been going a lot these days even after Neil recovered.
It seems like we are raising a little Canadian because somehow Neil is really into hockey. Even before his injury he would ask to go the community centre by our house every now and then to watch the kids play hockey. During his injured days it almost became the go-to activity in the afternoon. Now it seems like Neil understands most of the rules of the game and he is especially excited every time the Zamboni comes by.
Since it was almost Christmas we knew there is one special game we ought to go to. It’s the Teddy Bear Toss, a tradition of the Vancouver Giants (minor league hockey). On the last game before Christmas people are encouraged to bring teddy bears to the game. Then when the Giants score their first goal everyone throws their teddy bears on the ice and then those teddy bears are collected and donated to sick kids. We went to one of those games by chance a few years ago with my dad and it was really exciting to see all those teddy bears being thrown on the ice.
The Vancouver Giants now play in Langley so we made a trip to Langley probably for the first time in our life. The Giants kept us on our toes because they only managed to score their first goal in the third period… It was lots of fun to see all those teddy bears being thrown on the ice, and it definitely made the game more interesting, at least for us. The Giants ended up winning 2-0 so it was a good game all together.
My mom was visiting for a few days before Christmas and she suggested we’d get out of town for a day. We thought what could we do that would be appropriate for her and for Neil? Since it was beautiful clear weather (although very cold) we decided to head to the Sea-to-Sky Gondola. It was actually perfect since Neil could enjoy a ride on the gondola, something that he really likes and of course we got to see amazing views with zero effort. When we got cold outside we went into the lodge and my mom treated us all to much needed hot chocolate. There was also a play area there with a train table so Neil was literally on the top of the world. Once we were down and back in Squamish we had lunch at the Watershed Grill, another favourite of ours. The place is right by the Squamish river and on a clear day, like the one we had, it’s not uncommon to see bald eagles flying by.
If you ever experience having a child with a toddler’s fracture, the most important thing is not to lose hope. Although the situation is tough, it’s really not the end of the world. Kids are resilient. I heard that a lot but I don’t think I quite got it until I saw Neil dealing with his fracture. He was in pain – yes, and he was uncomfortable, and he didn’t sleep very well, and our whole world seemed to be upside down for a few weeks. However, he learned quickly to crawl again and still got to places quicker than some kids who are able to walk. He learned to scoot and every day he became more and more mobile even though he couldn’t use one leg. I was worried they wouldn’t allow us to bring him to daycare, but his daycare was nothing but understanding of the situation and did everything so he’d be able to have the same routine, so he still went as usual two mornings a week. When I came to pick him up on the first day after he was there with his broken leg one of the teachers told me: “he’s unstoppable”. Yes, I think it pretty much describes our little determined boy.
Two weeks went by, and three weeks went by, and Neil was still not walking or putting weight on his leg. We took him to a pediatrician and we did another x-ray. It turned out that his fracture was longer than was first thought and therefore required more time to heal. We started to get a bit frustrated since what we hoped would be a fast recovery time was starting to drag on. Then one morning, a day after Christmas, Neil stood on both his feet and started walking. It was very emotional for us to see him doing it. Yes, almost every parent has this moment of seeing their child walking for the first time. But seeing your child starting to walk for the ‘second’ time in their life is no less exciting.
For the first week or two Neil was limping quite badly. I took him to the doctor again and she said it’s normal and should improve quickly. I told her how much he loves riding his balance bike and she suggested we do as much as we can of that (not a problem). She claimed that the balance bike would help Neil to keep his foot straight, since when he was walking he was always putting his left foot out. Riding his balance bike got him back on his feet.
Now – over a month after he started walking again it’s hard to believe this boy was ever injured. That for three and a half weeks he couldn’t stand or walk. He runs, jumps, climbs everything on the playground and he’s back to skiing. There was absolutely no trauma in that regard. We actually waited a bit longer before we got him back on his skis, but Neil told us he was ready. He asked to wear his ski boots at home and put on his skis, he practiced skiing on the carpet, he even ate dinners with his ski helmet on.
So when he was finally back on the snow it took him no time to get back to it. He’s one determined little boy. We just hope this was the last of his injuries, but I have a feeling it probably won’t be. It’s part of life and if we want to have an active child I guess we need to accept that harder times might come our way, but the important thing is not to lose hope. Three and half weeks of Neil not walking seemed like eternity at the time, but now it looks like a distant memory.