Razor-thin margin of error

Matt went back to school today after four days out of commission. (See Big Air, Big Trouble)

He’s in a brace to keep his spine from getting any more out of whack. It’s a molded plastic body brace that fastens together (velcro!) sort of like a turtle shell. It’s designed to restrict movement from armpits to hips. He keeps it on 24 hours a day for at least a few weeks, except to change undershirts and bathing (very delicately). He’s already complaining about a snap inside that’s pushing against his skin.

I don’t think he fully grasps how serious his injury is and how close he came to paraplegic paralysis, or that one bad move in the next couple of weeks could still put him in a wheelchair. He can’t seem to see past next week, which is really frustrating.

I chatted briefly with the mom of Matt’s buddy, Andrew, who was on the slope with him. She says he told her, “I thought he was dead” after the wipeout. It must have been spectacular.

Now that he’s been home for a couple of days, he’s getting antsy. Doesn’t want to abide by the restrictions imposed by medical necessity. He doesn’t realize that he’s lucky he can walk. He doesn’t want to listen to DeAnne (well, there’s a history to that) or me (I’m more judicious about picking my battles, but this one is for keeps). He’ll listen or else. And the “or else” is a scary prospect.

From what I understand, the primary bone of concern is the second lumbar  (I just mistyped it as “lumber”) vertebra. It has a compression fracture. The doctors said if the fracture had gone, oh, a millimeter deeper, there could have been some spinal cord involvement.

He’s damn lucky. That’s what I call a razor-thin margin of error.

The thing that gets me is it’s not like he’s never seen the devastating effect paralysis has on your life. A grade school classmate of his lost the use of his legs from a bizarre and tragic stroke that cut the blood supply to his spine.

Maybe he’s just too scared to confront it and wants to pretend it’s not serious.

And the other thing that gets me is that all his life Matt has not been the daredevil crazy one. He’s typically far less daring and careless than his sister.

So what gives?

I don’t know. I just hope he calms down long enough for this thing to heal.

Or he’ll never have a choice of whether to get back on the snowboard or not. As it is, he might not. But at least he can make that choice for himself.


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