Earlier this summer, I filled all of you in on the injuries to two ranchhands (#2 and #3) and how they subsequently missed their respective baseball seasons.
Fast forward to late August. Ranchhand 2 tried cross country for the first time. He had a difficult week. At a practice early in the week (an 8 mile run), he ended up with heat exhaustion and spent most of one evening throwing up and trying to replenish fluids. A couple days later, he came down with a nasty head cold that included a fever. That was the day before his first cross country meet.
If we followed the rules, he should not have gone to school and should not have run in the meet. But, he was too excited and wouldn’t let me hold him out of school because of the fever.
I was uncertain if I would make it up to his meet due to a class I had to teach. Fortunately, I made it home in time and headed up to the course.
The race started okay. He was exhausted from his tough week and couldn’t breathe very well because of the head cold and fever, but he was running about where I expected (early middle of the pack.) He was running with one other boy as they came around to the final bend and homestretch to the finish line.
I hadn’t been counting the number of boys crossing the line, so I wasn’t sure where he was at in terms of placing. Unknown to me, the coach of the other boy had informed his runner a little earlier that whomever won from their group would get the last medal.
Ranchhand 2 was pulling ahead and you could see him gritting his teeth and getting ready for the sprint to the finish line. As he went down the hill, his body twisted in an unusual way. He started to slow down. Then he slowed more. Then he started hopping. On one leg. He fell (literally) across the finish and laid there, refusing to move and in a great deal of pain.
Obviously, the other boy beat him to the finish line, but this Mom’s mind wasn’t on medals or placings. A different boy, who had led almost the entire race had already collapsed about 150 yards before the finish and was being loaded into an ambulance near the place where I was standing to watch my son finish. Now, I was running through spectators toward the finish line trying to figure out if my son was injured, suffering aftereffects from heat exhaustion/sickness, or both. A second ambulance crew was arriving so that the first ambulance could leave with the collapsed runner (an EMT crew had to be on site at all times while there were runners.)
Long story short, Ranchhand 2 ended up in the second ambulance with a fractured hip, necessitating a third ambulance crew being called to a cross country meet (that has to be a record.) The information he had been given by his competitor’s coach was wrong. Ranchhand 2 earned a medal in his first-ever meet.
I’m not sure how he made it through those last 40 or 50 yards with an avulsion fracture in his hip, but he did. Watching him hop to the finish line was terrifying. I didn’t know what had happened, how serious it was, or what would happen next.
I was also incredibly proud of his determination. Not only did he run the race when he was sick and exhausted, but he finished with such a serious injury. He is normally a very laid-back kid who doesn’t say much or draw much attention to himself. I really had no idea he had that kind of stubbornness.
Parenting is hard. But it can be rewarding.
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