The evening of her second birthday, Violet started limping. Actually, limping isn't quite the right word, because it was more of a shuffle walk than a limp. Hard to describe, really. My sister in law thought she had a load in her diaper because of her walk, but that wasn't quite it.
The limp seemed to come and go. My Mom didn't notice it at all when she babysat during the day on Thursday but it was fairly pronounced when I got home from work that night. We wracked our brains to think of a fall or injury that she may have sustained that could have caused the change in her gait, but could come up with none. Violet didn't seem bothered by it and was moving as much as ever if not as smoothly. She had a long standing appointment with her doctor the next day for her two year check up and I figured I could ask about it then.
When the doctor had her take a runway stroll, she immediately noticed the odd shuffle walk. Doc wanted to be safe instead of sorry, and since she determined that Violet wasn't a complainer, (she hadn't so much as whimpered during her entire exam), she ordered some x-rays to rule out a fracture.
And I was glad the Doc ordered the x-rays. I was worried. It's amazing how quickly my mind went to unfathomable places without even so much as Googling "Toddler Limp." I thought of how blindsided parents must feel when their little person is diagnosed with some horrible, dangerous, maybe life-ending disease. I found myself holding my girl's hand a little tighter when I walked her through the parking lot and not jumping up hurriedly after she fell asleep when I laid down with her for her nap but instead laying next to her and sucking in the smell of her damp head.
So after 2 days of gnawing, churning worry, I was hoping to lay this thing to rest and move on. We headed from the pediatrician's office to the imaging center a couple of miles away. It was 3pm and Violet was exhausted. We'd been at our mothering group meeting early in the morning, had lunch with a friend, had a doctor's appointment, and not even gotten close to a nap. Violet was a plum in the waiting room despite her fatigue and she managed to woo everyone in the place. When her name was finally called, we headed back to a private waiting room with the technician. She had me undress Violet completely (the snaps on her diaper would have interfered with the x-ray) and we waited together alone in the quiet room while she set up the machine down the hall.
During our private wait, I nursed the tired love and she fell asleep in a matter of seconds. I was hopeful that she would sleep through the whole ordeal and never be any the wiser. The radiologist came back and let me know she was ready for us and I took Violet down the hall to the imaging room. I laid her down gently but before her little butt even skimmed the table she whipped back awake and terror ensued.
Two twenty-something men came in to restrain my little crumb-cake. Since her limp was so hard to define, they had to take about a million different shots so that the doctors could make sure things looked copacetic from every angle.
It was, hands down, the worst 10 minutes of my short parenting career. It between hysterical, breath-stealing sobs, Violet managed to get out the few words she thought would get her point across most clearly. "Mommy!" and "No!' were her most frequent cries but she also repeated, "I go back home," like a mantra. At one point, the radiologist told me I could lay on the x-ray table with Violet between my legs for a couple x-rays and she just clung to me, sobbing, "Peese, Mommy, peese!"
By the time we were finished, I really didn't care what was wrong with Violet's leg anymore I just wanted to get my baby the hell away from her tormentors, who, incidentally, were all wonderfully nice people. They just happened to need to lay my naked baby down under a lead vest and hold her immobile in a dozen different poses to do their job. The x-rays showed nothing and Violet's limp mostly cleared up by the end of the weekend so, mercifully, we don't have to take any further medical action. The cause of the limp will remain a mystery but it was likely a virus or a fall that caused it.
The only follow-up required on this one is thanking Jesus, Buddha, Vishnu, Brahma, Mohammad, and every other deity and life force around for the health of my firstborn baby. I didn't know I was capable of generating worry like what I felt when I let my mind imagine the worst. It is no wonder parents have gray hairs and wrinkled faces. We are charged with protecting the most important and fragile things in existence; our kids.