Against the Norm – Leg Update

We live in a city where you often see adults with limb differences lying on street corners.  They might be playing an instrument, singing, or painting characters with a paintbrush between their teeth.  What they all have in common is a metal bowl sitting next to them to collect small bills.  They beg for a living.  People stand around and stare.

IMG_0961Our family gets stared at a fair amount, but it has intensified the past few weeks.  People just don’t know what to do with us…we don’t all look the same and we go against the cultural norm.  (Where we live, staring is not considered impolite.  When you don’t know what to do with something, you just stare at it.)  Usually, I take the stares in a stride.  It is part of living here.  I hate to admit that the past few weeks have been harder for me.  The momma bear in me raises her ugly head when it is my son’s leg that is being stared at.

We were out for an evening walk in our loaner stroller  (High five to a great expat community who is coming to our aid and helping us with our needs!) when we came past two grannies sitting on a bench.  They live in our apartment complex and I have seen them a few times.  I knew right away that they wanted to talk about Little Man’s leg.  I started to bristle until my sweet four year old reached his hand over to the woman.  They held hands as we talked.

“What happened to his leg?” she asked, and I answered with our standard reply, “He was born this way.”

“Oh, you are such a good person.”  Again, I have a standard response for this common statement.  “No.  He is a good person and I am happy to have him in our family.”

“He is your son?”

“Yes, we have four children.”

This is where the conversation took a twist.  Usually the conversation turns to how crazy I am to have so many children and how tired I must be!  HA!  I have a standard reply for that conversation too!  Instead, my son, interrupted.

“Want to see my booboo?  I can walk, but I am hurt right now.”  I guess the English word booboo translates into Chinese because she understood! 🙂 He pulled up his pant leg and stuck out his residual limb to this unsuspecting granny.  I felt myself cringe and I prepared my heart for the look of horror that would most likely come across her face.  I had seen it so many times as folks stood around staring at us, staring at his missing leg.

That granny….she leaned down looked at his leg and while holding his hand said, “I am sorry you are hurt.”

Tears sprang to my eyes at the sweet, gentle nature of this old woman.  To add to the healing power her words had on my soul, she looked up at me and said, “This boy will bring so much music to your home.”

I laughed as she told my son to be thankful he had a home to play music in and he would never play music on the street. Only a Chinese granny can be sweet and then fuss at you in the same sentence!

We live in a city where limb difference is equated with life on a street corner.  To the man who helped me carry the large stroller off the bus, to the mom at the bus stop who told her son not to stare, to the granny who held my son’s hand…thank you.  Thank you for going against the cultural norm.

 


 

Update: Little Man is doing much better.

The sore on his leg is finally starting to heal and this momma is breathing easier after two phone calls to our team of doctors in the States.  I can’t say enough about Shriner’s Hospital in Tampa.  They are just amazing!  We still are unsure what the next month will hold, but we are confident that Little Man will have the best of care.  This coming week the surgeon is reviewing x-rays that we sent to him from here.  High five to technology!

The antibiotics are done, the pain has subsided, now the hardest part for our little guy…not being able to wear his prosthetic!  It is hard for such an active guy to be slowed down.  Thank you to everyone who is pr.ying for him!

Not an Issue

IMG_0893Having a child with a limb difference is a total non-issue, except when there is an issue.  I mean, I often forget that Little Man only has one leg.  In the morning he puts on an extra sock, a limb sleeve and a plastic leg.  I don’t think about it again until bed time when we take it all off.  We would never call him disabled and most of our neighbors, until recently, had no idea that he was any different than the other children who play around campus.

 

… and then a sore appears.

 

The last few weeks we have struggled with what seem to be minor sores on Little Man’s residual limb.  Even a tiny sore can keep him from being able to wear his prosthetic and an infection in a sore becomes a concern.  This really is the first time we have dealt with any of this, which doesn’t help.  We are new at this, trying to figure out the best way to care for our boy with our doctors living on the other side of the globe.

We are thankful for the American doctors who live in our city who have helped us keep the infection at bay.  We are also very thankful that we had planned a trip to the States to see his medical team.

We are not sure what those doctor appointments will lead to.  Right now the sore is not getting worse, but not healing which might be the result of many different things – his need for surgery or that his prosthetic hasn’t been fitting well.

So our summer plans are shaping up a bit differently than we had planned, but it is a small road bump.  We know it will all go back to a non-issue soon.  Until then, we would appreciate your pr@yers for extra grace, wisdom to make decisions about his care, and a speedy recovery.

For now we are struggling with an active pre-schooler who is suddenly immobile, which creates for some interesting moments and some challenging decisions.

IMG_0927We have begun the quest to find a stroller for a heavy, growing, pre-schooler with on leg.  A new stroller is a must on our shopping list for the States because our cheap umbrella stroller just isn’t cutting it any longer.  Who knew there were so many types of strollers!  And, I am pretty sure they cost more than my first car!  Okay, maybe not that much, but it sure feels like it!  Wisdom.  I truly need stroller wisdom!  We are pr@ying the wheel of our stroller stays on for the next three weeks till we get to the States to buy a new one, and in the mean time Little Man is enjoying many piggyback rides.  He calls himself “Agent W” because he “flies” around on our backs!  Can you believe that Little Monkey can carry him?

We also need wisdom and grace as we interact with our neighbors and friends.  Out on our family walk after dinner we had a woman stop us and with utter shock tell us that our son had lost his leg! We laughed so hard!  We just couldn’t help it.  We have had many folks ask us what happened to his leg, but never had anyone tell us it was missing!  🙂  We know it is gone and we love him the way he is.  We would appreciate your thoughts as we strive to communicate that to those around us.

We will keep you posted on how his leg is healing, our next steps for his care and the funny stories that come up as we go along!  Thanks for keeping us in your thoughts!

 

 

 

2.5 million people

Image 5Ever wonder how two country kids can end up living in a city of millions and thrive?

It’s true, Hubby and I both grew up in small towns and at least for myself the thought of living in a city of millions was unimaginable.  But yesterday, we laughed again how living in a large city in this culture at times can be so like living in a small town.

Little Man and I were walking back from the market.  We have learned to ignore the stares as I pull him in the wagon (Thanks to another expat friend who gave us their wagon that had been shipped over from the States.  Gotta love hand-me-downs!)  I was hauling my load up the small hill to the back gate of campus when a middle-aged man stepped in to help.  Rare!  We often get watched but don’t get helped.

I turned to thank him and a conversation began.

It started like most conversations….”So this is your son?”  We chatted about us having four kids; he has one.  I told him how long we lived in China and he told me he grew up in this city.  He asked about Little Man’s leg and the conversation turned a bit more personal.

“Oh, yeah we all know your family.  Your husband is a teacher and we see your children.  We know you live on the 2nd floor in building 5, but we do have questions?

At first this could feel creepy…..but really it speaks to the communal nature of this culture.  It might be a big city, but our little apartment complex filled with neighbors in high risers – they know each other and they want to know and understand me.

“Did your son have an accident which made him lose his leg?  It looks like you love your Chinese children the same as your birth children, but that can’t be true.  Is it?  We watch you come and go….where do you work?  Would you adopt a child from here?  What is this thing you are pulling your son in?  This is my first time seeing a wagon.  You are different!”

I answered his questions as we walked through campus, knowing he would report all my answers to his wife, a teacher along side my husband.  She is sure to tell the other neighbors.  It is like living in a fishbowl.  Maybe if I hadn’t grown up in a small town that would bother me.  Believe it or not, I welcome the curiosity of my neighbors.

As they ask questions our hope is that they see something different about our family and they will be intrigued by who makes us different.