Six weeks ago I woke up to a pack of coyotes howling outside my house (again). This has happened to me too many times to count throughout my life. After this last middle-of-the-night blood-curdling howling fest, I found myself in an exhausted fog wondering if there was any chance the coyotes were specifically calling me OR if perhaps, maybe… in my sleep… I was somehow calling them (insert twilight zone music.) I kid. I kid. (No I don’t.)
Note to self: look up the symbolism of coyote packs finding your bedroom window in different houses on different properties at different times.
The last time I woke up to that familiar (yet still shocking) howling-barking-primal-holler, it was so much louder than normal that I thought there must have been at least 8 of them right outside my bedroom window. It’s moments like these, lying in my bed wide-eyed at 2am that I am reminded that the world is still spinning and wildlife still rules – even while I’m under the covers with an IG account beeping 2 inches from my head.
Coincidentally, that was the same week we decided that Abi is having surgery for her hip in April. And truthfully, it all feels a bit wild. Just like the coyote pack that shows up out of nowhere and makes you throw your eyes open, hold your breath, and immediately tally your surroundings (Are the dogs in the house? check) — so do unforeseen medical situations.
When your child has special needs it can feel like you’re on a constant level of high-alert. After Abi’s first seizure (that resulted in an ambulance ride and a 3 day stay in critical care) we set up an air mattress in her room and began taking turns sleeping two feet away from her. After all, we had found her seizing in her sleep and the thought of “what if we had slept through it?” haunted us. But thankfully, we had a phenomenal neurologist who upon learning of this, looked us in the eyes and said, “No. Deflate the mattress and go back to your bed TONIGHT. The best thing you can give your child is well-rested parents who live life with a full-battery.” I had to agree. And on the medical side of things- he reminded us that we were now on seizure meds (something we weren’t on previously)- which was comforting.
All that to say, with the exception of a few moments- I’ve always handled my concerns pretty well and handled everything with good dose of calm- but the underlying current of awareness is still there. And this hip situation is just like the coyotes. I know they’re out there, I just don’t know if they’ll show up. Nearly ALL of our friends with CP have dealt with hip issues. And despite all my hopes in being the exception, eight months ago Abi’s left hip came out of socket. And contrary to what many assume, there is no “popping it back in” – individuals who do not walk often do not develop sockets deep enough to cup the joints – so the surgery is much more intense. After long talks and big meetings, we decided with the surgeon to just leave it be. Incredibly, after the initial “pop-out” it wasn’t painful for Abi, nor was it impending her from doing anything. And- come to find out – many people live pain free and totally fine with hip dysplasia their entire lives (total shocker). So alas that was handled. Check. Done. Taken care of. Let’s move on.
But then, over the holidays, I saw Abi holding that left leg tighter and tighter… and the grimaces kept getting stronger and more severe.. and just like that the pack wandered it’s way back onto our property. Even though my gut said, “It’s the hip” I decided to leave space for a different root cause until I heard it straight from the doctor’s mouth.
And 6 weeks ago I heard it straight from the doctor’s mouth: “It’s the hip. The nerve. And possibly the tone.” And shockingly, the news was a relief. I breathed deep and felt a peace that now it was time. Rather than just wondering if the coyote was in the woods looking at me, I could turn to it, stare it in the eye and say- okay- together- let’s handle this.
Sometimes wildlife sneaks up on you and leaves you wide-eyed assessing the damage. This month, the damage seems tender but contained. The night before surgery I will be managing my nervous system with a cheers to our girl, the doctors, and a strong recovery… and perhaps an x-large delivery pizza and a cold beer. But for now I’m thankful for a plan, a set of doctors I trust, and a hospital with a Taco Bell in it.