This is a typical photo of Max from a couple of months ago.
On this day, Max:
1)Rode his new bike (with gears)
2)Jumped on the furniture
3)Played light-sabers with his sister
4)Threw the frisbee with his Dad and
5)Did the monkey bars at a favorite park
All very typical little boy stuff. But that was "before". Now we find ourselves in "after". Since then, we've learned Max has Spondylolysis at his L4 vertebrae. Basically, he has two fractures in his vertebrae about 2 mm apart. It's a pretty serious situation for a seven year old. Symptoms? He complained of a sore back. It didn't get better. So simple, it's scary. Turns out this is an injury that develops over a long period of time, not usually from a single incident.
Life has changed now. After a series of tests, we were referred to a doctor who specializes in Sports Medicine for kids. The first step was getting rid of the pain. Max got measured for a brace Jedi Armor which was created to fit him perfectly and which he wears for 23 hours a day.
He also goes to physical therapy 2x a week, does about an hour of exercises at home every day, sees a tutor 2x a week (we are missing lots of school to go to appointments), and is on strict orders to be a "Couch Potato." No recess, PE, sports (even swimming) or running. He's not even supposed to walk very much. This new schedule will continue for the next six months to a year. His chances of having the fractures heal are 65%.
His back may not be strong now, but his spirit is. He is amazing me and his Dad and everyone who knows him with his incredible attitude. He doesn't complain. He doesn't whine. He just does it.
It breaks my "Mom Heart" to see him longing to run and play at recess, to ride his bike or scooter, or to play on the play structures at school. He can't play with his friends like he used to and I know he feels left out sometimes.
Tonight he was enjoying his one hour a day of not wearing his brace when he fell and hurt his back. (When he has gone two weeks without any pain, he'll be allowed to do a little more activity). After falling, he was in pain. My poor little guy, who has been so brave, broke down. He was moaning "I can't do it. I can't do it". I wanted so badly to make him understand– you can do everything right– do all you are supposed to– and still have some tough times. I wanted Max to know he shouldn't worry about not being able to "do it." He is doing it. With bravery, grace, and the strongest sense of determination I can imagine.
As difficult and painful as this situation is, there are blessings that come with it. Max is getting stronger in spirit as he gets stronger physically. He is loving math (in the past, he'd much rather run around than study) and he is learning something about himself that he'll always be able to hold onto: You can't always control what happens to you but you can control how you deal with it. As I struggle with some of the challenges that I am facing in this situation he is inspiring me– to be consistent, keep working hard, and just do it.