An Invite to a Crutches Burning Bonfire

Momservation: Parents are the eyes that see the future until their children’s eyes come into focus.

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April 11, 2014 The first day of our 3 month journey

April 11, 2014 The first day of our 3 month journey

Tomorrow is a big day in the Wheeler house!

After 90 days of having a highly active 14 year-old boy (I swear the kid is part Labrador) using crutches to keep one of his legs non-weight bearing—July 2 he will walk again!!

I don’t know who is more ready to be freed from this torture: my son, Logan, or me and his father.

This has been a challenging three months to say the least.

We have all done our best to keep a positive attitude and perspective in the face of Logan’s fluke injury—after all, this was a temporary disability, something that could be fixed, something not terminal. It would be a slap in the face to compare this hardship to those who truly suffer without end in sight or who triumph over life-changing hardship. I know plenty of those people and their strength, courage, and resiliency for much bigger life challenges helped me reframe this as a blessing that my son would recover.

See, three months ago he was playing baseball. He was off to an amazing year, this last year before the true proving ground of high school sports, batting .667 with a .778 on base percentage and 1.25 slugging percentage. The plate umpire had just finished telling us what an impressive catcher our son was. After the time out, Logan swung at an outside pitch, the stands watching to see if this 250 foot hit over the first baseman’s head would go fair or foul…when suddenly I hear a gasp and see my son writhing in pain on home plate.

He dislocated and fractured his patella when his metal cleat got stuck in the dirt and didn’t pivot with his leg. He had to have surgery to remove the bone that chipped off—leaving a significant hole in his kneecap. We were left with two choices to try and save my son from a life-time of arthritis and reduced knee function:

My baby and promising three-sport athlete could either have an invasive surgery inserting artificially grown cartilage that would take over a year to recover from and keep him out of freshman sports


Since he was still growing, keep all weight off his right leg for three months and see if nature would take its course and fill in the missing bone itself—“Like growing new grass,” said the doctor. “And you have to stay off the grass if you want it to grow.”

We opted for the second option.

My first-born baby, the one who filled my kick-count card in seconds instead of minutes in utero, who plays non-stop from the moment he wakes up until he falls into bed exhausted at night, had been reduced to sedentary turf.

Relegated to the sidelines for that year’s baseball season; his 8th grade end of the year celebrations of Westward Ho, Six Flags, Park Day and 8th grade Grad Night; a family trip to Hawaii; a whole month of summer before high school  that began with swim parties, bonfires and group activities. It fell on Hubby and my shoulders to convince our young colt crashing against the starting gates to trust us that resisting the temptation to ditch his crutches was the right decision.

Making the best of it at Westward Ho...

Making the best of it at
Westward Ho…...Hawaii



And the most torturous prognosis for my son: no freshman football—the thing that most excited him about becoming a high schooler.

I was worried that we would heal his leg but break his spirit in the process.

As parents, sometimes you can know what the right thing is to do for your child. Life experience has taught you that this too shall pass and it will merely become a switch-back in an ascent to great things. You’ve learned first-hand hard work and sacrifice and surmounted challenges indeed comes with its own reward; that achievement and character are carved from the things we believed would break us, yet pushed forward anyway.

But a 14 year-old boy who lives in the moment with invincibility and skepticism coursing through his veins is much harder to convince to “Stay Off the Grass”.

As this day that feels like a year in the making finally arrives, Logan is so ready to walk he dreams about it and we are beyond ready to finally get out of the way of saving him from himself.

We are extremely proud of him for the adaptability, positive attitude, and good spirits he’s displayed these past three months. Though he would have moments of weakness, begging us to let him walk just a few steps (especially these last three days), I know one day his 18 year-old self who can still play pain-free sports will thank his 14 year-old self for not quitting in sight of the finish line.

Last day of crutches

Last day of crutches

There are still physical and mental challenges ahead in Logan’s rehabilitation—and the chance that this course of treatment did not take. But in the spirit of not getting discouraged…you are all welcome to the crutches burning bonfire tomorrow!


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