If Paige were a flower, I'm sure she'd look just like this. A daisy with pizazz. Strong and beautiful, reaching for the sunshine, weathering a little rain along the way. Breathtaking in her perfection, yet vulnerable to the elements.
This weekend, Paige dislocated her knee. At first, I thought she had popped her hip out of place. That happens several times a day, but once in a while, it doesn't go back in on its own, and we need to massage and manipulate it back for her.
After spending 6 hours in the waiting room at the ER (grrr), I began to figure out that it was actually her knee. Badly arthritic, we suspected she was having a flare up. But it happened too suddenly, and too completely.
She wasn't able to walk - at all.
I thought of Dave, who often talks about true accessibility on his blog. Our hospital has a brand new wing, supposedly the most modern it can be. Yet, when I arrived, I parked in the handicapped spot (yes, with a placard), and took Paige's stroller out - a stroller that clearly says "positioning wheelchair" on it. I had to lift her out of the van by myself - no small feat for me, as she is long and gangly and I'm short!
Then...in order to actually get to the emergency room entrance, we were faced with a dilemma - there was a big sidewalk ahead of us! I was able to tip the chair back, lift her onto the sidewalk, and then tip it again to take her over the other side.
But, what would Dave have done? He could not have wheeled over it - he would have had to take a very scenic route on the way in. Not a big deal this weekend, as its a beautiful fall weekend. But a MAJOR deal in two months, when there could have been a foot of snow here in Ontario.
And the "handicapped" bathroom at the hospital? Probably enough room for a wheelchair to wheel in. But certainly not enough room for a wheelchair, its rider, and a helper to all be in the room at the same time. Probably perfectly fine for someone who can stand up, and pull their pants down, and maneuver to the toilet. But what about people who's legs don't work at all? There was no place for me to lay Paige down to get her pants down - no place to support her while I tried to pull them down so she could go. How does one take their pants down without standing up???
I spent the better part of 24 hours in and out of the hospital. The "triage" room had three small examination beds - room for a patient to lie down, but no room to wheel a chair in. Each time I went in one with Paige, I had to back her in, and then leave the room (via a curtain) and come back into it.
I'm out of practice with Paige. She's had a very healthy medical run in the last year or so. While her loose joints and her popping hips have lured in the background as something we will need to address, we live a pretty carefree life. We're not big on dwelling on stuff.
But, I was reminded of her frailty this weekend. Of how delicate she really is. And I've been melancholy and sentimental all weekend for it. I love this child so much. I would die for her in an instant. My soul is so deeply tied to her, and her sister, that I'm not really sure where I end and they begin.
We dealt with Paige's mortality before we were blessed with her life. We have nearly lost her a few times. And through it all, I've had to think about that possibility. To ponder the concept that her time with us could be limited.
She has given me so much joy, and I have always, always believed that I would be able to take that joy and share it with the world, no matter what. That, if she were ever taken from me, I would survive knowing that I had her message to carry on.
I've thought about those things this weekend for the first time in a very long time.
We're staying home together today. Just Paige and Mom. And we're going to hug. A lot. We're not going to think about anything other than sheer adoration for one another.
Because when it comes down to it, all of the "stuff" that makes up our collective lives is pretty unimportant.
Everybody needs to be spoiled once in a while.
Paige is due for a day of it.