Off the IR (injured reserve) list

We got some good news today. Our son Joaquin will be allowed to play football this year. We’ve had a couple of tense weeks because he pulled a muscle in his back on the first day of tryouts for football at Blessed Sacrament Catholic school. He is an 8th grader and had played two years prior.

He really wanted to play this year but “popped something” in this lower left back. He stuck it out and made the team. But even with rub downs from Trainer Dad it wasn’t getting better so that Friday, I took him to our pediatrician to get him checked out – just to be safe. That was early August.

During the examination, our pediatrician noticed something odd about Joaquin’s back. So he sent us to get x-rays that same day. They took so many x-rays that I thought Joaquin would glow that night.

The technician called our pediatrician with the results. While he was on the phone, I took a peek at the x-rays myself and something didn’t look right to me either. Later that day our pediatrician called me to let us know that we should see an orthopedic pediatrician for Joaquin’s scoliosis.

…scoliosis? what?

A 10lb bowling ball was unexpectedly dropped in my lap.

Turns out Joaquin has a slight curvature of his spine and we would never have known this if we’d never gotten x-rays. He was not to do any “team sports.”

“What do you mean, no team sports?” I asked.

The doctor read off his list:

  • No running
  • No weight bearing exercises
  • No contact
  • He could walk
  • He could swim

There was no fracture of his vertebra and it was just a strained muscle. But our pediatrician referred us to an orthopedic pediatrician. This was precautionary since in football, you lead with your head and we all didn’t want to take any chances. We made the appointment – two weeks down the road. In the meantime Joaquin went to the practices but walked and stayed informed of the plays. He wanted to play and was staying focused.

Which was more than I could say…

Joaquin’s team had their second scrimmage game this past Friday and he was out there helping out – not in uniform but in his practice jersey keeping his team mates hydrated by running them water. It made me proud to see him out there with his team, helping.

In the recesses of my brain that ugly feeling of doubt gnawed away at my brain.

What if he couldn’t play? Or worse, what if this would affect him the rest of his life? He’s only 13 with so much ahead of him. He had played football before and started as a 6th grader against much bigger boys. He was even more determined in his 7th grade efforts. I captured him in a slideshow as a proud Papa on the sidelines.

As I watched him engage with his team mates during the game, the thought he might not be able to play with them started to cloud my mind. My eyes watered and I cleared my throat as another caring parent asked how Joaquin was doing.

“We’ll know on Monday,” I would reply and I thanked them for asking.

So today was the big decision day. 2pm at the doctor’s office. Liz picked up Joaquin and I met them there with his x-rays in hand.

We sat in the lobby for about 20mins and then another 45mins in the examination room. They took more x-rays and both Liz and I unconsciously held hands when the doctor stepped in.

The good news is that his scoliosis is not as bad as we feared. The doctor said Joaquin still had at least two more years of growth and that if we watched it – there may be no need for any type of preventative measures. No braces, no surgery.

I swear, I think I blew back the doctor when I exhaled.

Then he said Joaquin could play sports.

Then I heard Joaquin exhale.

When I looked over at him, I was infected by my son’s big big toothy grin. “Puro diente” as my wife loves to refer to him. Means “all teeth” in spanish. The same smile his Grandpa possessed, God rest his soul.

For now, we just have to bring him back every 6 months for an x-ray to monitor his progress. They want him to stay active and even thought it would get better as he grows.

I mentally took the bowling ball, put it in a bag and stored it.

Now for the bad news.

They wouldn’t validate our parking. Cheapsters.

We left the doctor’s office and headed straight to Academy to buy him his cleats – size 11 1/2…thank you very much! His first game is this Saturday and I hope he gets to play. At the beginning of all this, when I had mentioned to his coach about the injury, he said, “Get him better, we need him, he’s gonna be one of my starters.”

Damn allergies…got some pollen in my eyes. *sniff*

Ah the roller coaster ride of parenthood.

Now I’ve got to start designing my boy’s football webpage!



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