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Bodily harm

Alison Osius
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Femaelstrom
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I saw my friend Ian on the sidewalk, and he asked how I was.

“Not great,” I said. “Right now I’m taking Teddy for an MRI, and he probably needs surgery.”

“Oh, yes,” Ian said, “I saw him in Crested Butte” – at the last bike race – “wearing a brace.”



“Oh,” I say. “No. That was the other one.” The other boy.

My younger son, 14, had hurt his wrist on a bike course, though fortunately x-rays detected no fracture. The elder, 16, had just sustained an avulsion fracture of the humerus, with torn ligament, in a football scrimmage.



Upon hearing the news, my stepfather told my mother, “Tell her she shouldn’t have had boys,”

Girls break bones, too, but boys sure break a lot of them. My nice young intern Jonathan, newly out of college, just broke his back bouldering – actually, trying to clean a boulder to climb it. His parents hurriedly flew out to help him.

As I stopped in my office briefly, between Teddy’s appointments, Jonathan also popped in, wearing his black paratrooper corset.

“I can’t stay,” he said. “I’m taking my mother to the emergency room.”

It felt like Armageddon. Or, at least, like a lot of things changed really fast this summer.

Apparently Jonathan’s mother was ultimately OK, and Jonathan will be as well, which is the bottom line, but he had to return home to West Virginia to recuperate. I was out on his last day, minding Teddy, and never even said goodbye.

Our week had started out uneventfully, or at least normally. My sons raced at Blast the Mass, and Teddy made the podium in one of his races and ate dirt in the other (he still has road rash on his good elbow). Monday and Tuesday he went to his beloved job as a ranch hand, moving cattle and clearing brush. Tuesday night he played football, in a seven on seven game in Basalt, and, diving sideways for a pass, took a knee to the back of the elbow.

That was the end of bike racing this year – and his dreams for Nationals, held only days later – and his job.

When I asked the surgeon, “Can he play football this year?”, a long silence followed. He looked at Teddy; he gazed away for a moment; he looked at me, and when I couldn’t take that, I looked at Teddy.

Finally, he said, “Yes,” but it was a qualified yes.

Teddy still came to Nationals with his brother, and charged around the campground and slopes in his Robocop arm brace, which every kid around seemed to wear at some point in the weekend, getting pictures taken in it.

We came into the hospital on Monday morning at 6:15 a.m. Teddy’s main question was, “Can I eat after the surgery? I’m SO hungry.

In the recovery room afterward, he was extremely insistent, slurring and with eyes half closed, on walking. He kept sitting up, and the nurse and I kept pressing him back down. Then he’d say again, “I want to walk. I don’t … want … to shtay here.” When I tried to distract him by telling him his friend Johnny had arrived (for shoulder surgery), Teddy said craftily, “Can I see him? I can walk there.”

He varied his theme, from a scowling, “I’m a football player, I can walk!” to wheedling, “Can I please walk?”

He now vaguely remembers me reproving, “Teddy, you can’t cuss at the nurses.” I asked a nurse, “Is this normal?”

With some, she said. “Especially young males. They get rambunctious.”

Yes, young males are hard-charging, carried over from a time when, as my teacher friend Dave observes, huge energies were needed for hunting and foraging.

Another friend, Geof, has just written me this note:

“By my tally our 19-year-old son has had three broken wrists (one surgery), one broken rib, and two broken noses (another surgery) from sports. But you know … now that he’s off at college we kind of miss having him around … which is, I suppose, the oddest injury of all.”

– Alison Osius (aosius@hotmail.com) lives in Carbondale.


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