I am hesitant to post this.
Because, I feel like as soon as I write this, I'm going to jinx it.
But here it is anyway: We left Hospital City on Friday afternoon. We left behind the offending brace, the pen I usually carry in my purse (still not sure where that went to...) and the pain.
Rewind to Friday morning. Get up at 5:30 am; get dressed, get packed, and get gone from the hotel. Arrive at The Hospital before 7:00 am; once again we are the first family to sign in. Breakfast consumes only 30 minutes; back to waiting for O & P open for the day. We chat with employees surprised to see us back so soon while we watch a thin trickle of patients arrive.
Finally, O & P is open; Big J calls The Twinkie over the paging system. She runs down the hallway, skids around the corner, and nearly wipes out half of the staff in O & P in her rush to get to Big J. It doesn't take long; Big J. takes one look at the situation, and decides that it will be faster, easier and better to just create a whole new brace. While we wait, he adds, seeing the desperation on my face. I relax a little; Twinkle, on the other hand is chatting non-stop with Big J about everything and anything. Before I can get any foothold in the conversation, Big J has the cast made, and is off to the back of the shop to create the form that will be the mold for the brace. Twinks races around to the observation windows that are in the back hallway; from there she can see Big J as he begins the process of building the new brace.
Once the form is filled with the quick-setting plaster, we have two hours to wait before Big J can begin draping the plastic over the mold to create the brace. We sit in the waiting rooms, and watch a Disney movie on the TV while the smaller kids play nearby. I skim yesterdays paper, and try not to watch the clock. At 10:30, we peek into the observation windows; the workshop is empty, so we go back to The Cafeteria to have a little snack. At 11:00, we have stretched the snack break as far as we can, and The Twinkster runs ahead of me, back to the observation windows. Big J is there, popping the brace off of the mold. He holds it aloft, triumphant, and motions us to come around to the opposite side of O & P, where the exam and fitting rooms are.
From 11:00 am, until 1:15, Big J works non-stop with The Twinkie. He shapes and reshapes the plastic; inserts foam shapes to support and hold the foot and/or leg in just a certain position. He moves and adjusts the Velcro straps. He jokes, and laughs with us the entire time; never does he once lose patience as he makes yet another adjustment. Finally, Twinkle is down off of the table, and walking the hallway yet again to test the most recent adjustment that Big J has made. He turns to me, and says "You know, I'm not used to seeing this. We know that most of these kids just flat won't wear the braces if it hurts too much." The smile fades from my face. "You don't understand her" I tell him. "She will wear it anyway - because The Doctor told her to wear the braces, she will". He asked "But not if she's in pain, right?" "No" I replied "Even if she is in pain so bad that she can barely stand up, she will wear the braces. If The Doctor says to wear the braces, she wears them. If he says to do Physical Therapy/Rehab, she does it. If he told her to stand on her head and make monkey noises..." Big J. interrupts with a grin: "I get it, I get it!".
One of the staff members in O & P has taken to calling The Twinkie "Princess", after the story of The Princess and The Pea. He swears that she can feel stuff in her braces that no other kid in the whole history of the universe can. He doesn't understand how or why it is that she can feel so much pain from something that may not even bother another child at all. I know why. When you have always had pain, have never known a day without it, I believe that you become sensitized to it in a way that most people can't understand. It's like living in darkness all the time - an open door to the sunshine is sensory overload; even a pinhole is A Big Deal.
Finally, at 1:30, Big J has to throw in the towel. He quietly confesses to me that he has been trying to fabricate something that is easily available at retail; typically sold under the Dr. Scholl's brand name. He recommends a specific type of cushion to help relieve the pain of one particularly stubborn spot. Big J simply doesn't have a way of making what we need: a little foam donut. We finally head for the parking lot after assuring Big J that we would stop at The Big W-M on the way out of town to get some of the good doctor's best "round callus cushions".
As usual, we fill up with gas across the street from The Hospital. We merge onto the interstate highway to head out of town, but take the exit for the shopping center where we hope to find that last little bit of relief from the last little bit of pain.
Park, grab a cart, go inside. We are familiar with this store; we have shopped here many times in the past. Twinks limps ahead of me, straight to the aisle we need. She waits respectfully for another customer who is taking his time browsing for medicated corn remover disks. After what seems like an eternity, he makes his selection and moves out of the way. We are amazed at the wide variety of items that could potentially be stuck to a persons foot. We are delighted to find exactly what Big J had described, and head straight to the registers.
When you want to hurry, need to hurry, is when time inevitably seems to move the slowest. We are in the checkout lane with the shortest line; yet every movement of the cashier, every action of the other customers, seems to be happening in slow motion. I am intensely aware of the scratching of the pen as the woman ahead of us writes out her check in long-hand; I nearly scream when the cashier drops it, and it flutters away from him. Finally we are through the line, and we drop onto the bench nearest the registers. Ignoring the curious stares of employees and customers, Twinks starts ripping back the Velcro straps that hold on the new left brace, as I am tearing open the package that contains the little soft, foamy donut cushions that had eluded Big J at The Hospital.
We bend our heads over the brace, check twice to insure that we are placing the little donut in just.the.right.spot.
Twinkle grins at me, straps up the brace, puts on her shoe. She takes a deep breath, stands up and...
...What? If you were halfway paying attention at the beginning of this post, you already know.
It didn't hurt.
And it still doesn't.
Best trip ever.