I just wrote about how I’ll let my son play football despite the possibility of injuries. I mean, I just wrote it! Literally one day after I wrote that blog post, my child was injured. It wasn’t my football-playing son who was injured, however. It was my cheerleading daughter. Last night, while at practice, she fell doing a basic stunt. Her team does some really crazy stunts that scare me, but last night it was just a very basic lift that went wrong. From a height of about 5-6 feet in the air, Lexi fell backwards. It happens so fast when a flyer falls. About all they can do is trust their bases and spotters to catch them. Last night, Lexi’s bases and back spotter failed to catch her or even cushion her blow. She hit the ground, landing on her shoulder which jammed into her neck with nothing but an inch of foam to help soften the impact.
She lay there, crying, struggling to breathe, moaning about the pain in her shoulder and her neck, then taking great gulps of air and crying that her neck hurt to breathe. Immediately her coaches held her head still and kept her stationary while trying to ascertain where her injury was, and how serious it was. Her right shoulder appeared a little deformed and swollen, but even more concerning was the pain in her neck.
I left the bleachers and made my way onto the field, not aware of how badly she was hurt at first. I mean, I’ve seen her fall dozens of times. In fact, she’d fallen several times earlier that night and each time, she stood up and got right back up in the stunt. When I reached her, I knew immediately how badly she was hurt.
After a few minutes that seemed like forever, the coaches (one of whom is a nurse), called the ambulance. Lexi’s neck pain was scary. Seriously scary. So scary, in fact, that I didn’t even notice the paramedics! Right away they put a collar around her neck to stabilize her head, and strapped her to a board before lifting her to the stretcher.
As the paramedics wheeled her across the field to the ambulance, Brooklyn and Clayton who were practicing right there ran over to see Lexi. That’s when I lost it. I’d been holding it together, keeping my head up for Lex, and silently praying, “Please don’t let her neck be broken. Please don’t let her neck be broken”, but when Brooklyn came over bawling her eyes out, I lost it. It was a heartbreaking scene, Brooklyn’s coach lifting her up so she could clutch at Lexi while crying frightened tears for her big sister.
In the end, after a CT of her neck and x-rays of her shoulder and clavicle, it was determined that Lexi’s spine is fine and her shoulder is a little separated, but it wasn’t a bad enough tear to show up on the x-ray. Her arm is in a sling, she has medicine for the pain, has a lot of neck pain, and will be out of cheer while she heals. The good news is that her injuries aren’t bad at all. The other good news is that this incident really made me feel like Florida is finally home. Friends gathered around the football field offering to take my younger kids home, offering to get my car for me, offering to do anything I needed at the moment. Texts poured in with messages of support, offers of help, and requests to be updated on Lexi’s status. In that instant, it felt like we had a network of family and friends.
And for those of you wondering if I’ll allow Lexi to cheer again, the answer is yes. I’m not sure if she’ll want to go back to it, or if she’ll ever trust her bases and spotters to fly with them again, but if she does, I’ll support her. Consider this - in the end, Lexi wasn’t badly hurt. My friend’s 7-year-old daughter, however, was accidentally kicked in the head at school yesterday. She seemed fine and went about her day and went to cheer last night. In the middle of the night, she woke up vomiting. After a visit to the hospital, it was determined that she had a concussion. This is her second concussion. The first one was worse and it happened while playing on the playground during summer camp. Two major head injuries, both the result of non-sports related accidents. In the end, you just never know.