by Andrea Rennick

All sorts of old sayings have been running through my head these past few months.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Just pull up your bootstraps and move on.

Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again.

It never rains but it pours.

And the most frequent, “Don’t panic.

It’s hard for me to explain to people who don’t know what happened. They seem to take it harder than we did. I have to assure people it all worked out in the end, it did.

You see, back in October, my almost-17 year old son was bicycling back home from across town around 9pm one Friday evening. He was about three blocks from our house and didn’t see the pothole in front of him in the dark, not with the lights of oncoming traffic in his eyes. He flipped end over end with his bicycle, and as x-rays showed later he landed on his head, breaking four bones in his neck.

But he’s okay.

We held out breath and went through the waiting, the finding out what was wrong, the transfer to a bigger hospital, seeing him strapped to a bed immobile, the hospital stay and the endless driving back and forth.

“You know,” said one of the many doctors we saw, “We don’t often see an injury like this where the patient can still move his limbs. You’re very lucky.” The word lucky resounded in our heads every single day. Before he was released on Thanksgiving, the doctor put a device on his head called a halo, designed to keep his neck from moving to let the bones heal without surgery. When he left the hospital on shaky legs, the only damage he had was the inability to use his right hand.

Addison's bike
Addison’s bike. Note the cracked helmet with chunks of plastic missing.

But he’s okay. And he’s left-handed.

I think there comes a time in a person’s life when they are tested. Their true character comes out. And I’ve often said that parenting was one of the few jobs where you didn’t know how bad you screwed up until you were done. For the past couple of years, as my son has approached adulthood, I’ve been secretly waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the test results to come in.

While he was in the hospital, Addison was more than okay. He was wonderful. The nurses couldn’t get enough of him. “Thank you,” he’d say groggily as they stuck him for the 21st time for a blood draw. He counted each time. “He’s such a wonderful, lucky guy,” they’d tell me. He never wanted to be a bother to anyone, only asking for help when he really needed it, after he tried on his own. In a situation where others would have cried and screamed and been angry at the world, Addison held his own.

We’ve met stranger after stranger who helped us. The nurses on duty that night, the many cars that stopped, the guy who held his head immobile, the people who saw what happened. All the people, literally around the world, who prayed.

He broke his neck, but he walked out of the hospital. He couldn’t use his right hand, but now it is almost back to normal. He endured a nine-day hospital stay with grace. He continues to insist on doing things for himself, just like he has always done. And through it all we’ve maintained our sense of humour, thinking up names for his halo, the titanium crown, threatening to string Christmas lights on it. He tells the little kids who stare to always remember to wear their bike helmet. He patiently answers the same questions over and over again. And he continues on with his plans for school and work, considering his accident a minor setback.

I think my husband and I are lucky ones.

Andrea Rennick is a homeschooling mom of four children, ranging in age from 3 to 16. A sense of humour is a big part of dealing with the ins and outs of her day. She can also be found at her website, Reach her at