O'Hare Airport 11:19 PM, 6,28,00
Our flight delayed, we'll be leaving at 10:50, maybe. When I got on the plane to Chicago, in Springfield, Missouri this afternoon, a young boy, about eight I'd guess, sitting across the aisle, window seat, one row back, was trying hard not to cry. He sat there trying to control his face. I looked away, to not make his efforts more difficult, more humiliating in his misery.
Across from me, a young man, beautiful as only a fifteen year old boy can be, sat with his splinted leg outstreatched, extended under the seat in front of him. The velcro bound splint ran from thigh to foot, covering jeans with one of those trendy side-leg pockets. A red tee shirt and baseball cap were the rest of his ensemble. But he wore his smooth tanned skin as his real garment. He had the look of quality about him. Someone loves this boy. Healthy, and a tiny bit, ever so small, too alert. The reason being pain and probably fear. But he hid it well. I asked what happened to his leg. He said he'd been at camp, playing baseball, went for a fly and as he paid attention only to the ball, another player, diving for the same ball, clipped his knee. A bone was broken, I think, the term he named for it passing by without my recognition, and a tendon was torn. Tomorrow I'm having surgery on it, he said, at Good Samaritan Hospital in Chicago. Do you know Good Sam he asked. I said yes, then corrected it. I know Good Samaritan in Lost Angeles.
He listened to his CD player, suddenly got up as we were descending for a landing, heading smoothly and with the grace of a young baseball player, for the restroom at the rear of the plane.
But earlier, as we came closer to Chicago, and were put into a holding pattern, flying out over Lake Michigan, he began to readjust the velcro straps, one and then another. I asked him how his leg felt. He smiled and said it was hurting bad, had hurt all day. He said he hadn't taken the pill today that they'd given him. It was codine. He didn't want to be dopey. I'd thought about his ordeal to come earlier and said to him, you'll do well. They love to have someone like you. You're healthy, you will heal fast, and the nurses will pamper you. He said he was looking forward to it, wanted to get able to play baseball again. I prayed silently that they'd give him a painkiller pump automatically and that it would work well for him.
As the plane came closer to landing, and he said he was tired of sitting in the same position for so long, trying to stretch the taut muscles of his leg, encased in the stiff splint. I decided to tell him a little pain relief and at least distract him. So I said, what you need is a really strong smell on your hand. He looked interested and puzzled by that. I told him about counter-irritants, and then about shifting focus, then hypnotic techniques, and positional shifts, how to change the color of the pain and notice which was better. I gave covert hypnotic suggestions, and as we landed I was in the midst of teaching him Ericksonian self hypnosis and how to turn the volume down on pain.
He said does this stuff really work? and I said surprisingly well, and gave some more hypnotic suggestions. Then I said, we've just landed a plane and neither you or I were really aware of it because we were focused on what we were talking about. He looked surprised, and nodded yes.
Painfully, I'm sure, he walked off the plane, down the stairs, across the tarmac, and up the stairs inside, not using his crutches that I'd asked the passengers behind us in the aisle to get for him from where the attendant had placed them. I passed him, leaning against a pillar, looking around for his mother, who was supposed to meet him, but nowhere in sight. Later Stan heard on the intercom, a call for a wheelchair. I'll always wonder what happend to him. Whether what I said helps, and how much.
And tomorrow, I'll be praying for him, again and again.