Back on the ice

A few months ago, we started Ian with skating lessons at the local ice rink. He did really well and had no fear. He is able to get on and off the ice safely, skate forward with relative success and is studying the nuances of skating backwards (something I myself have yet to master). He’s also learned how to safely fall and get back up again, two things he gets plenty of practice with each week. After he finished two sets of the skating lessons, we switched him over to hockey lessons. It’s a bit more involved than the skating lessons in that he has to dress out. Dressing a five-year-old in full hockey gear is not simple or speedy. Those practices are on Saturday and they’re something I’ve let Rich take the lead on. It’s hard for me as a mom to dress Ian in the locker rooms if there are other shy boys in there and Ian is not able to dress himself fully yet. And it’s just better for Ian to do this with his dad.

Today, however, was a special treat. It was “stick and shoot” this afternoon from 5:15-6:45pm, which is basically just open hockey practice for anyone who shows up. Rich and Ian both suited up and went out on the ice today. Ian was stoked and Rich was pretty pleased too.

They skated around a bit, practicing shots on the goal and puck movement. After a while all the skaters lined up to take turns shooting at the one goalie who had suited up. Rich had already decided to not bring his goalie gear today because he wanted to play with Ian, not field a million break aways from excited kids. When it was Ian’s turn to shoot the puck, everything went quiet. He meticulously pushed the puck down the ice, one little shuffle at a time. After a million minutes, he got within 10 feet of the goal and shot the puck. It went straight at the (adult) goalie, who easily stopped it. All the other players, adults and kids alike, tapped their sticks on the ice for Ian to congratulate him on his shot. It was really sweet.

I like hockey but I’m not fanatical about it. I know the rules, I recognize the equipment, I can skate well enough to be a decent forward (my backwards skating sucks way too hard to ever play D). But it’s not a passion of mine.

Watching Rich and Ian on the ice today, though, was pretty awesome. It was one step closer to Rich putting on pads in a game. One step closer to him putting on armor again. One step closer to normalcy.

Rich has had absolutely zero output since Christmas Day, even while increasing his eating. He’s eaten adventurous things like a Wendy’s cheeseburger and a few bites of turkey chili. He had a waffle yesterday with peanut butter on it, just like he would have done any other Sunday last year. He’s eaten unmentionable amounts of Trader Joe’s dark chocolate with almonds in it. He’s had a slice of homemade pizza (we haven’t braved greasy restaurant pizza yet). Tonight after hockey, we all went to sushi where Rich had a regular meal’s worth of food. It did make him so full I had to drive home, but his ostomy pouch remained bone dry.

It has been exactly six months since the fistula first appeared, gushing 3.5 liters of fluid a day. We are so close to the end of that epic chapter. Tuesday, Rich flies to Nashville and back for blood work (thanks for the ticket Curt!). If he continues to keep his output at zero even at 30,000 feet, I am calling his fistula healed. Either way, we’re having Mexican this week.

It has been such a slog for so long, it was extremely satisfying to watch both of my boys on skates. It warmed my heart even in that freezing rink.

Rich and Ian on the ice