We had been planning this trip for almost a year now. It started with two little boys’ obsession with Lego and a chance encounter with a San Diego LegoLand brochure that someone had carelessly tossed on the floor at a restaurant. For months, this brochure had been open-closed-open-closed-folded-refolded and even torn in a couple of places.

Spring Break was promised, plane tickets were purchased, Lego’s Brickmaster Club joined and the waiting began.

When I little, my family used to take road trips to the nearest Asian market 6 hours away. Yep, North Platte, Nebraska in the late 70’s wasn’t known for its Asian produce so we’d pack in the overcooked-pea-green Chevrolet Impala station wagon and head out once a month to the market.

Me ‘n my brother: “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? huh? huh? huh? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”

Well, that came back to haunt me. My own kids: “Is it Spring Break yet? Is it time? Is it April? When we gonna go to LegoLand? Are we going today? tomorrow? next tomorrow? next next tomorrow?”

Finally the day arrived! The boys thought they should pack ALL of their Legos to bring on our trip….because that would just make fanboy sense, right?

Our first stop was Los Angeles to visit my parents and host a little Food Blog Forum seminar, which just made my boys even more impatient and angry, to the point where I think Andrew thought we were pulling his leg about the whole thing. Nathan asked me everyday if I still had his LegoLand ticket, looked in my wallet several times just to make sure I didn’t give it away or use it to scribble a grocery list on.

Six….loooooong….days in Los Angeles and then “tomorrow LegoLand!” finally came. The boys changed into their pajamas, brushed their teeth and laid in a shared hotel bed, gigglin’ yakkin’ and gigglin’ some more about which section of the park they wanted to go on first, if they might see Darth Vader there, who gets to sit next to who on which ride and who would be a crybaby and wuss out on riding the Dragon roller coaster.

Before they fell asleep, Nathan turned to us and said, “Daddy my leg hurts.” But he was still in great spirits and had running around an hour earlier so we didn’t think much of it, perhaps just a result of roughplay.

3:00am he woke us up, whimpering about his leg. I let him switch beds to sleep next to me and he fell back to sleep.

6:00am he cried.

7:00am he couldn’t walk.

By the time we got him dressed, in the car, on the way to the emergency room, he couldn’t stand.

There’s nothing that scares me more than to see my baby in that much pain. Compound that with the heart breaking feeling seeing the disappointment in his eyes knowing he was going to the hospital….instead of LegoLand. Hurts. That combination of emotions right there. Double knots my heart.

I had been through this before…5 years ago….with Andrew when he was 17 months old. I had just given birth to Nathan 2 weeks prior, and all of the sudden, Andrew wouldn’t stand or walk, crying crying crying in pain. Newborn Nathan crying crying crying. Daysnightdaysnightsdaysnights at the hospital, newborn at home with my in-laws, being on pinsandneedlesfightorflight and not having a chance to bond with the baby. That’s another story for another time. I still haven’t healed emotionally from that experience….borderline post-partum….yet here I was again…..

As a Mom of two boys, I had to suck up my tears and just build a temporary dam to hold back the massive wave of unresolved undealtwith stuff.

Because I still had Andrew to take care of. There was no sense in all of us going to the hospital. I went on auto-pilot and called a cab as Scott drove off to the hospital.

Autopilot, me. Restrained excitement, Andrew.

Nathan was at Rady’s Children’s Hospital in San Diego, scared, in pain with strange people poking, prodding, asking if this hurt or if that hurt.

But they’re pros at this children’s hospital. They knew how to make a little boy smile.

Nathan named his new friend Jumpy and Ramy (in honor of his new friend Remy, son of beautiful & talented Lucy Lean who always brings a smile to MY face)

Andrew, of course, was sad that his brother wasn’t there to enjoy the day but still giddy at the experience of his lifetime. At every attraction, he wanted me to take a photo to send to Nathan.

Every photo was a wave to his brother or a note spelled out in Lego.

I sent them via phone, knowing that Scott would receive them and hold back on showing them to Nathan.

Because it would have made him even more sad that he was missing out.

Scott and I communicated via text. It was better for the boys not to hear us saying these words: Pain. Xrays. Blood tests. Sonogram. Don’t know. Best guess. Hurting.

And finally a text: “Docs think it’s Toxic Synovitis”

Ugly words.

And the worst was “think”

I want CERTAINTY. I want to know for sure that the doctors know for sure.

I searched the term….scanned search results that came up….only wanted to click on one reliable answer…google health site NO. wikipedia HELL NO, the nih DIDN’T MICROSOFT BUY THEM OUT?, dr. greene ISN’T HE OPRAH’S TRAINER?, ivillage AREN’T THEY OUT OF FUNDING?

Finally clicked on Frank J Liggio M.D.’s site. Hey, at least he had those important initials after his name. YOU KNOW YOU’D DO THE SAME!

Good news: it’s common. it will go away.

Bad news: diagnosis is a process of exclusion — meaning doing as many tests as possible and if it’s not A, B, C or D — then it might be Toxic Synovitis. And if we’re wrong, it could be bacterial infection which would mean “surgical emergency” and possibly affect his growth plate.

Wait. I’ve heard these words before, 5 years ago. Can’t cry. Can’t cry.

So, together, Andrew and I decided that if Nathan couldn’t go to LegoLand…we’d bring LegoLand to him.

Can’t find the words.

He never once complained.

But I knew.

Meds started working. Swelling decreased. Pain easing. He’s hungry.

Let’s go downstairs in your wheelchair to eat!

And then we discovered the marble run in the lobby.

I spy with my little eye….a tiny little smile?

We spent 2 hours in that lobby, examining every side of this marble run, trying to predict its pattern…

…placing bets on which of the 6 directions the next ball would go.

The next morning, breakfast downstairs. McDonalds crispy hashbrown and pancakes with loads of syrup is what he wanted.

…and then back to the marble run.

And then…he stood!

and I was so excited that I told him to wave at the camera!

So the docs let us go. And off we went to LegoLand in a wheelchair. Our last very day in San Diego before heading home.

Looking on the bright side of things….

….Nathan’s wheelchair….

….gave us some awesome line cut’sies for the rides. bu-bye long winding lines!

A beautiful, happy, joyous day!

I *tried* to wake him up:

But no luck.

And we ended our day with a beautiful view at a fancy San Diego restaurant

Celebrated with a massive steak

And with our guests of honor…Jumpy and Ramy, who much preferred the spaghetti and spinach.

The photos are all taken with my iPhone – which is NOT why they are small. The photos are small because I’m a highly visual person – images affect my emotions so much that I’ve got to keep these photos small…for now.

Thankyou thankyou thank you to all of you for your kind comments and well wishes. You have no idea how much this means to me. xoxo jaden

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Comments 157

  1. MyLastBite

    Tears. I don’t have kids but am close to my sister’s four. Wishing Nathan a full recovery. Thanks for sharing…. makes me even more grateful today.

  2. cherie

    Tissues! Where are the durned tissues?


    I’m so glad he’s home and alright – scary scary scary time for mama! He was so brave – and I’m SO glad he got to live his sweet little dream before going back home!

  3. Kim in MD

    Oh my gosh…I am so sorry that this happened to Nathan and your family, Jaden! That is so scary…I am glad that he is on the mend. He really is a trooper! 🙂

  4. Danica

    Wow!!! I cannot even begin to imagine what you all were feeling and how brave your son was. I LOVE that your other son wanted to bring Legoland to him at the hospital – that is seriously the sweetess thing ever.

    I am glad everyone is healing! Take care and I’ll send positive thoughts your way.


  5. Anne

    As a Mom of a child with special needs I understand what you went thru. Mentally, physically and emotionally. My 4 year old daughter has lipomyelomeningocele, tethered spinal cord and neurogenic bladder and bowel. The waiting for test results are excrutiating at times. We have spent alot of time in different children’s hospitals (for surgeries and medical tests).

    I am glad he is doing better. {{{hugs}}}

  6. Christine

    I hung on every word and am so glad that this had a happy ending. A story like this one can’t help but bring tears to a mother’s eyes. Our children are so fragile when they’re sick or are hurt. I can imagine why you can’t look at larger images yet.

  7. Mary

    I was so scared reading this blog entry, and just wanted to express my relief and joy that your son is doing better and your family got to go on this long-awaited and memorable trip! Your sons are so courageous and brotherly – you must be proud of them! Thinking of you all.

  8. Jean

    Oh Jaden, my heart hurts for what you all went through! And now my heart is rejoicing that all will be well! Thank you for sharing the intimacy and vulnerability of this ordeal. No wonder we all love you! Give Andrew and Nathan hugs for us. And a huge hug for Scott, who I know was as worried as you were. God has smiled on your familiy 🙂

  9. TripleScoop

    Thanks for sharing your story with us Jaden. Having 2 little kids of my own I can only imagine the emotions going through you. I’m glad everything ended well and he is healing. God Bless.

  10. scrapper al

    So scary! I’m glad you were near a great hospital and everyone was finally able to make it to Legoland.

  11. Eliane

    I am so glad Nathan is better and that all of you were able to enjoy LegoLand ! And what a nice marble run at the hospital, huh ?!

  12. Kristin and Kelly

    Wow. I’m so sorry y’all had to go through that. I can’t even imagine what that was like. So glad he’s doing better and that he didn’t completely miss out on his dream trip. What a brave little guy! So glad it wasn’t something more serious. Our thoughts are with your family. Hugs.

  13. Seena

    As a mother of three boys my heart goes out to you, and I am sitting here at my desk crying and thinking of your strength and bravery for being so open with us all. The uncertainty is unbearable as a mother. I am sending prayers for answers and a fast recovery. Thank you again for sharing.

  14. Deanna

    I’m sorry your trip to LA wasn’t the best. Hopefully next time will be better. Thanks for the knives though! They showed up on Friday and when I saw the FedEx man I *might* have squealed and skipped/sprinted to the door.

  15. Sharon

    Thank goodness he is ok, I hope he has a full recovery. So glad he made it to LegoLand. When my grandson was small (he’s 21 now) that’s all he wanted for Christmas, Birthdays or to buy with his money. Lego’s!

  16. Julie

    Jaden, you don’t know me from a stranger walking down the street, but if you were in front of me, I would give you the biggest hug EVER. I have a 6 year old son, and I know how much we parents suffer when our little ones are in pain. Nathan heading off to the ER, knowing he wouldn’t see LegoLand that day…poor baby, my heart just broke. I was in tears by the time I got to the pic with all those Legos on Nathan’s hospital bed, but I’m glad that somehow all of you got through this horrible experience – hey, you even managed to get those two funny pics of yourself with the Lego guy! I wish Nathan all the best for a speedy recovery, and my own baby, Justin, hopes he’s feeling better. Lots of ((( hugs ))) to ALL of you, from my family.

  17. Kate @ Savour Fare

    I am in tears. There’s nothing worse than our babies hurting, especially if you don’t know what the problem is. You were remarkably calm (at least on Twitter) during the whole thing, and I’m SO GLAD Nathan got to go to Legoland.

  18. Merrissa Saunders

    Jaden, I’m sending TONS of positive/healing energy to Nathan, you, your entire family. I don’t have a child myself, but am very close with my family and if I ever had to go through what you did, I don’t know how I’d hold up. My mother has gone through some similar experiences with my sister who has cerebral palsy and has had a whopping 12 operations in her 26 years on earth.

    You are a strong woman.

  19. Mai

    Awww wiping tears. He’s such a cutie. I hate to see children suffer. I pray he gets well soon.

  20. Jeanne

    Big Hugs to you all.
    Pass the tissues–this line got me the mos: “I’ve got to keep these photos small…for now.”
    Good news is..it’s behind you now.

  21. Maryann

    I think this is the first time I ever held my breath reading a post……
    Good wishes for Nathan and all of you.

  22. Linda

    Oy I am sitting here with tears running down my cheeks…I am so glad that your sweet boy got to go to Legoland after all.
    The funny thing is that Dr. Liggio is our pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon…he performed surgery on my son who needed pins in his broken arm. He is a wonderful man…I am very happy you found his website…we were very happy to have found him…
    I hope that Nathan is better now…
    Positive healing thoughts coming your way!

  23. Jody

    Oh Jaden, my heart goes out to you and your family. I am so glad that Nathan got to go to Legoland. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It brought me to tears.

  24. Single Guy Ben

    Oh Jaden, I remember seeing this on twitter. What a traumatic vacation, but I’m soooo glad that it has a happy ending. Your sons are too cute and such brave boys. They’re lucky to have you as a mom. And you’re lucky to have them as your kids. And your husband, well, he’s just plain hunky. 😉

  25. Martin

    Hey Jaden, I really hope the rest of your vacation went better – so sorry to read about Nathan – heart-wrenching blog! Trust he’s on his way to a full recovery!!

  26. Megan

    Tearing up over here. I don’t know what I would do if my son ended up in the hospital! Much love to your sweet family, Jaden.

  27. Jan

    Whew! Sooooo glad Nathan is doing better…and what a sweetie-pie of a big brother he has! Sending love and good healing vibes to all of you.

  28. Ninette

    Blessings on you and your family. And thank you for sharing. As parents, we all share in your fear and suffering, and also your joy and relief. And what brave sons you have, both of them.

  29. patsyk

    I have two boys, like you… and this post as I read it brought a lump to my throat and gave me that uneasy feeling in my stomach … as I know that awful feeling of not know what’s wrong with one of your children. My oldest had an odd pain in his legs 2 years ago… turned out to be an odd illness that could have lasted anywhere from a month to 6 months, we got lucky and it was at the shorter end of possibilities, but so very scary just the same.

  30. Marjy (zensister)

    It’s so very scary to have to go to or take your child to a hospital in a strange town. Fortunately, Children’s is one of the best. I’m so glad to hear that it was something that time will take care of and that he was able to go to Legoland after all!

  31. Tracy

    Tears for you … I’m a mother of two boys too. How scary and awful, especially away from home and familiar doctors. Hope he continues to do well.

  32. Winnie

    Well, that’s a vacation you won’t soon forget! I am glad adorable Nathan is doing better and that he did get to enjoy Legoland for at least the one glorious day- he is such a trooper- you are lucky to have such an awesome kid and he is lucky to have such an awesome brother and parents!

  33. Sara

    Awww Jaden, I teared up just reading this, that must have been unimaginably hard for you! I’m glad Nathan got to go to Legoland after all (and hey, got to avoid lines!). Sending you love and support, girl!

  34. Fran

    You all have sure been through a lot this week. I’m happy they found an answer and that it was not something permanent.

    In the end, it will be a story you’ll all talk about for a while, I’m sure.

  35. [email protected]

    Tough couple of days for you all. I’m SO glad to see Nathan made it to Lego Land after all! What a trooper!

  36. Jackie

    I’m so happy Nathan’s doing well. I was about his age when I developed some sort of virus that prevented me from walking for a few weeks. I don’t remember much but my parents still talk about how that was one of the scariest times for them. Glad he got his smile back!

  37. Shoshanna

    I wasn’t expecting the turn in your story and I can’t imagine the worry you and your husband endured when Nathan was in the hospital. I’m glad that Nathan was able to enjoy Legoland at least for a day. :o)

  38. Brooke

    You are such an incredible mom. A fighter. A wonder. A powerhouse. I’m glad that your little man got such great attention from the doctors. I hope Nathan pulls through all this quickly. He’s such a sweetie. xoxox, Brooke

  39. Katerina

    I have a boy 7 years old. We had our moments like this in the past. I totally understand you and your emotions. I always pray for all children in this world be healthy and happy. My best wishes and my prays are with you.

  40. Fire Wife Katie

    Oh Jaden! I’m so glad you got to take him to Legoland after all, to heal his little precious broken heart (and yours!) What a tender story. I hope everything is back to normal and Nathan feels better as soon as possible!

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