When falling while learning to walk, Lyda’s head barely missed the sharp corner of the coffee table, many times. Who knows how many times she tip-toed to reach something and pulled everything down. On her first day of school, she fell from the top of the outdoor gym, grinding her face in dirt and gravel. And, during soccer,(the nose thing comes full circle) the ball smacked her on the button at least three times I can remember, knocking her right off her feet! By this time, I lost all restraints ran onto the field ahead of everyone to scoop my little girl and speed back to the sidelines. Yes, I could showboat too.
Soccer yielded the beginning of our family struggle. Lyda complained about a knee hurting. I could see it swelled a little so we put ice on it. Bonney, my wife, said we should have a doctor check it. Lyda cried because she equated doctors with shots, and didn’t want any of that. I offered that I’d seen her stumble while on the field and it was probably a sprain or twist. That was my first lie and I don’t think Bonney believed it, but Lyda’s crying stopped.
After a few days, when the pain became unbearable, Lyda asked me to call the doctor and I did because she wouldn’t do that unless the pain was intolerable. I called Orthopedics. Luckily, the doctor could see her within the hour, otherwise it would be six weeks!
We entered the waiting room, joking. I told Lyda that when I go into a waiting room it is crowded, but within minutes, it clears. It happened just that way. Lyda laughed at her dad and his “waiting room powers”. I told her about being on a crowded bus and having one empty seat next to me, with people preferring to stand.
The doctor and I traded barbs while he examined Lyda. I related a story that when I was her age, I had my knee stiffen-up on me so much that I couldn’t ride a bike and never gave it a thought . . . it got better in a few days. My second lie.
“Well”, the doctor said. “I’ve heard a lot about you. Can you tell me, do you or any relative have arthritis?”
“I’m going to have the desk make an appointment for Lyda with Rheumatology . . . I don’t find any injuries.”
It started then. The seriousness enveloped me, my wife, and Lyda. Bonney took charge by adjusting schedules, making appointments and keeping the insurance straight. I fell back on what I do best, being obnoxious, keeping humor at the fore, and trying to protect my little girl from everything. The third lie.
I’ve cried, prayed, and sworn at my hillbilly heritage.
I’ve begged the heavens to bestow on me, all the pain that Lyda goes through. The thoughts rarely escape my rattled brain. I constantly read to find if researchers are close to a cure or better medicine.
But, one thing is constant. I still hold my breath when watching my daughter. In fact, she takes my breath away.