Jacob has a high threshold or tolerance for pain. And, it is a blessing. I’ve read you can train yourself to tolerate being uncomfortable. This is not something he learned. As far back as I remember he was a tough cookie.
His brother would start crying before the nurse even walked into the exam room with a shot. Jacob would watch them sticking him. There was a time he was having regular lab work because of a certain medication. He was a champ about being stuck. We were always nervous and each held an arm, in case he jerked, but he always surprised us.
Through his life he’s had some hard knocks. When he was attending a local high school, I got a call from the teacher that Jacob was upset and they weren’t able to console him. He had ridden the bus to school that morning and from the time he entered the building, was noticeably agitated. Flailing around, couldn’t be still, and biting his hands. I hopped in the car to pick him up and agreed, something was definitely wrong. Turns out he had broken his collarbone! Seems he bounced around on the bus and fell at some point. (It was the last time he rode the school bus.) It was one of the most maddening experiences we’ve had with Jacob.
I recall being on the phone with the head of public school transportation wanting an explanation as to why and how. Trying to wrap my mind around a picture that would not form. And crying until there were no more tears, in utter agony, that I’d not find answers.
The doctor devised a odd, tube-like wrap to stabilize Jacob’s arm. It was a really hard, sad time. A memory from then popped in my mind just now: a couple of weeks later, I was talking about it in a group and a fella spoke up and said something like, “it’s a broken collarbone, that’s not a big deal”. Let me tell you, I wanted to choke him! (In his ignorance, he truly had no idea the magnitude of the difficulty we had faced.) It was a HUGE deal coping with a broken bone in a child that had no intention of following doctor’s orders. But seriously, Jacob actually handled it like a trooper. Much, much better than I coped, mentally.
There was another time that I woke him one morning to find significant redness/bruising and scrapes on his arm. It looked like he had gotten his arm hung, maybe under the headboard. Who knows? He didn’t seem bothered, but I was. Just the not knowing and him not being able to explain. I was consumed with the how. Did he have a seizure during the night and fall?
He’ll have bruises that have no explanation. Of course, we all have that happen. But each bruise makes me wonder the cause and how much it hurt. So thankful he’s a tough cookie.
A few years ago the program director met me at our car one afternoon and said she thought something was going on in Jacob’s mouth. That he kept pushing food to one side and drooling some. I wondered if he had a bad mouth ulcer or terrible sore throat. NO. When we got home I got a good look in his mouth and he had ground a hole in a crown. YES. Thankfully his dentist got us in first thing the next morning and we walked out good as new. But, oh how it made me sick that he’d been dealing with that. And, I never saw it when brushing his teeth!
Recently, Jacob was twirling in the kitchen and his feet tangled up. I was standing near him and could see him going down but wasn’t quick enough to completely break his fall. Once upright, I could tell he was hurt. He rushed off to his room, obviously rattled. I slowly undressed him looking for a red mark or any sign of injury. Nothing obvious and within a few minutes, he seemed fine. The next day he was in the kitchen eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and I noticed his finger was purple. I truly thought it was a smudge of jelly. NO! His whole finger was bruised and swollen. What an awful feeling. The night before, I knew he was hurting but couldn’t find where. It was swollen enough I wondered if it was broken, but he would hold my hand and bend it without a grimace. I do believe it was jammed. He never made a sound. By the next day, it looked so much better. Never acted like it bothered him. No joke, he is tough.
In the past, Jacob would bite his hands for multiple reasons. Frustration. Doesn’t feel well. Anger. Upset. Pain. Both hands are scarred from him repeatedly breaking the skin. He hasn’t done that lately but when he does, I know something is really wrong and to pay close attention. Biting his hands, causing himself pain, is one way he communicates. My heart sinks when I see he’s been that upset. Knowing as tough as he is, it’s taken a lot to push him to that point.
If you’re a mom, you know, keenly, the desire to take any pain your children are experiencing and carry it yourself. Dads might do that, too. From my experience, Jacob is much, much tougher than me. I’ll fret and worry and figure and question anything and everything, wishing I could shoulder hurt, in any form, so he doesn’t have to.
The good news is, I don’t have to bear any burden alone. God is there to help me, rescue me, carry me. For my God is greater and stronger and higher above any other. And, He will carry your pain, too.
Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.Psalm 68:19