In March 2010, an errant soccer ball in an indoor match shattered my nose into a million little pieces. I got hit in the face again last fall, just four months after major surgery to repair the fracture. And three days ago, I underwent my second – and hopefully last – major nasal/sinus surgery.
My family, God love them, has been patient with all of my soccer and running injuries all the way back to my middle school days, when my dad – my number one fan – and I ended up in the hospital emergency department several times. I’ve torn my ankle ligaments so many times they’re like old, loose rubber bands ready to snap at any moment; I’ve hurt my knees; I’ve injured my Achilles tendon; I’ve had my upper lip ripped apart by a stone on a ring on the finger of a girl on an opposing team in a soccer scrimmage; I’ve had two foot surgeries; I’ve tried every imaginable orthotic in an attempt to relieve foot and calf pain when I run; and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out I’ve had a concussion or two along the way. Off the field, I’ve fallen out of a tree house and from the top of a high diving board, both times landing on my back; I’ve survived one car accident only by the grace of God and been lucky to walk away from others with nothing more than jangled nerves.
This past Thursday night, my little brother – with whom I exchanged maybe five nice words when we were kids but love to pieces now – called to wish me well the next day. The next morning, my dad arrived on my doorstep to take me to the surgery center for my latest operation; he stayed on call throughout the procedure, which took twice as long as expected; when he had to leave, my mom and my sister relieved him and cared for me until my husband picked me up later in the evening. All weekend, my husband played nurse and still managed to clean the house, feed the dog, rake the leaves, cook the meals and answer my every beck and call. Today, both of my parents teamed up on a wild goose chase of sorts for new pain meds, because I had an allergic reaction to the first and struggled on just Tylenol. And tonight, with my husband stuck at his engineering firm feverishly working to meet a deadline, my dad showed up at my house with a dinner of chicken, rice pilaf and pumpkin pie, all laced with love.
You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. You can make decisions one way or another that have an effect – for better or worse – on your health – but you can’t choose your genes. None of us would have chosen a life of infantile Batten disease for my little sister or any child. But I’d rather have my family, complete with its tragic genetic mutation, than not at all. I’d rather fight with them than with anyone else, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.