And so, the pins are out of Tucker’s foot.  We can officially say he is tougher than nails.  Because, oh my goodness, that was no small undertaking.

They had told us it wouldn’t hurt to take out the pins.  Bones don’t have nerve endings, so when you break a bone, it’s not the actual bone that hurts.  The surrounding parts are loaded with nerve endings – ligaments, tendons, soft tissue, muscles, all that goodness.  Those hurt when you mess with them. But bones don’t have feelings. 

So many people – doctors, nurses, and even fellow compadres from the trenches of orthopedic experience – told us that it would be no big deal.  A non-event. 

I don’t know why it didn’t go that way for us.

One pin came out easily.  One.  Out of five.  The others were so bad, just so very bad.  It was more like wrenching nails out of wood.  There were pliers involved and other things I’m not going to describe.  Tucker turned white, and the many people in the room were rushing juice and crackers to him, warding off the actual faint.  I think the fact that he was so close to losing it is what kept me on my feet.  One of us had to keep it together.

Tuck needed a break after each pin was extracted (and who on earth could blame him?) but the extra tech in the room got impatient and macho with my son.  Which was a great big unspeakable mistake.

“Don’t ask him if he’s ready, just do it!” he said.  “Look, he’s watching – don’t let him watch, just do it when he’s not looking.”  He grabbed a towel to keep Tucker from seeing his own foot, and he said, “There. Go.” 

And to my brave-brave-brave boy, he said, “Suck it up, man.  Just suck it up.”

There is an invisible line around a Momma Bear, and you might not know exactly where it is.  But you will most assuredly — sure as blazing fire and sulfur and a thousand regrets — know when you’ve crossed it.

He crossed it.

I whipped around and looked at him, pointing one finger into his broad chest.  I said, “You.  Are mean.”

“Ma’am, I am not mean.  I’ve been doing this for 34 years.  I am kind.”

I said, “You will show me that kindness right now, or you will leave.  Tucker gets to decide how this goes, if he wants to watch, and when he’s ready to move on.  And you, sir, will be kind.”

He actually took a step back.  He said, “Yes, ma’am.”

And then I gave Tuck my full attention.  On his go, and only then, Team Tucker finished the atrocious act before us. Four more times.

Tuck and I talked about this later.  I said, “Buddy, what did you think when he was telling you to suck it up and be brave?”

He said, “I think he doesn’t know what bravery is.”

My amazing boy.

“You are right, buddy.  You know who does know courage?  You do.  Let me tell you what’s brave: it’s getting that first pin taken out, and knowing how badly it was going to hurt, knowing you had four more, and choosing to move forward. 

Brave doesn’t mean you want to do it.  It doesn’t mean you’re not afraid.  It doesn’t even mean you don’t want to cry about it.  Brave means you choose to do the next thing you have to do, even if it’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done.  You did that today. 

You are Brave.”

* * *

Later as we got in the car, I asked him for an update on the pain levels.  Do you know what he said?  “Oh, my foot is just a little sore on top.” 

Just a little sore.  Actual Home Depot tools and hardware were used with grit and might on my son’s body, and an hour later, he said, “It’s just a little sore on top.” 

He shows tolerance I’ll never know.  

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