Yesterday our son Andrew participated in his fourth Surfer’s Healing event at Doheny State Beach. It was a gorgeous day, made only better by the beautiful sea of smiles from the kiddos riding the waves with the pro’s.

When we arrived and Andrew realized what day it was (SURFING DAY!!!), he was so excited! He flapped for a solid hour and a half while watching the other children ride the waves as he waited for his turn.


When we arrived at the beach and Andrew realized that it was "surfing day," he was SO HAPPY!


The time finally came for Andrew to go surfing!

When Andrew’s turn came, he didn’t have to be told twice! He headed out to the water with his entourage, ready to get on that board and go!

That's Andrew's pro surfer on the left, Peter.

My husband and I had debated whether to bring Andrew at all yesterday. He has had a cold all week and we were worried about making him worse, but this event is just something you don’t want to miss!


I know he looks scared, but it's the good kind of fear, the "WOOOHOOOOO!!" kind. Trust me. He'd stay out there all day if he could.

Soon Andrew and Peter caught their first wave!


Waiting for the next wave is one of Andrew’s favorite parts of the experience. He gets to lay on the board, surrounded by his favorite element, soaking in the world around him. This is what makes this day so special for him.

Doesn’t Peter make it look so easy?? I could totally do that.

Except I couldn’t.


Coming in on the tail end of their last wave.

Their last wave.

After Andrew reluctantly got off the board, we threw a towel around him and snapped one more picture of the two surfers together. Hang ten!

We dried off, packed up our stuff, and headed back home. Andrew fell asleep within minutes, wiped out from all of the fun in the sun and surf.

When we got home, we noticed that he was rubbing and scratching at his left foot, and thinking that it was a sensory issue with the leftover sand, I gave him a bath and put lotion on his skin. He kept touching it and even put my hand on his foot, but since there was no visible sign of trauma I didn’t think too much of it. Andrew went to bed as usual, and I hoped he was gliding on his very own surfboard in his dreams.

Upon waking up this morning, he was unable to bear weight on his foot. I noticed him struggling to get to me and got up to check him out. That’s when I noticed his foot:

I’m no doctor, but it doesn’t take an expert to know that there’s something wrong with this picture. I called my husband and told him I was taking our kiddo to our local children’s ER.

Andrew was in great spirits despite the fact that he couldn’t walk. Meanwhile, I was submerged in total mommy guilt. Having a non-verbal child with autism and significant cognitive delays means you often play the guessing game when trying to locate an injury. Andrew had shown us his foot was bothering him, but because of his higher pain threshold, he wasn’t screaming or crying, so we didn’t think it was a big deal. I still feel bad, but it’s also the nature of his diagnoses, and a reality he and we live with every single day. He couldn’t tell us where it hurt, we couldn’t see anything “wrong,” and so we figured everything was okay. Luckily his body responded to the injury with swelling and bruising, which made it more tangible and allowed us to get him help.

This is one happy kiddo considering he’s at the ER at 7:00 a.m. I think it’s because he knew his injury was from surfing, which officially makes him a badass. I almost had the same injury on Tuesday night from tripping over my laptop cord. No cool factor there. But Andrew? He’s legit.

We were in the ER for a little while when my BFF Heather texted that she was on her way and asked if I needed something. In fact, I did:

“Cup of coffee, deodorant, and grated cheese. But it has to be white. The cheese I mean.”

Hippie deodorant is usually fine, but a day like today, when my autistic son required medical attention, I needed the real stuff.


For anyone else, this might seem like the world’s most random list, but Heather has long ago stopped questioning “why?” and just goes with the flow. This makes it easier for everyone involved.

Once the doctor confirmed that Andrew’s toe was broken, Auntie Heather helped distract him with hugs, kisses, barking, and rapping while three hospital technicians put a splint on his foot and leg.

The doctor came in to check the splint and it had been done wrong, so off it went and a new one had to be made. By this point Andrew was a pro.

The doctor told us he’ll likely be put in a cast for six weeks.


This kiddo, in a cast, for SIX WEEKS?

Somebody hold me.

I can’t imagine Andrew not being able to swim for so long! He just started his adaptive swim lessons on Monday and we try to hit the pool everyday. Again, it’s his favorite element!

Tomorrow we see the Orthopedist to determine the next course of action. I’m going to offer him a kidney in the hopes of negotiating some kind of deal. It’s a toe; we ought to be able to figure something out, right? Right?!

Andrew is home now, resting on the couch, while I try to distract him from focusing on the ginormous splint on his foot. This is a child who cannot tolerate a band aid. A cast should be all kinds of fun.

Regardless, if he’s gonna get hurt, this is a pretty awesome way to do it. Surfer’s Healing is a wonderful organization that give our  children the opportunity of a lifetime. There’s always a risk when you participate in extreme sports (or walking near a laptop cord apparently) and the most important thing is that Andrew is safe and on his way to healing!

And while I’m bummed Andrew got hurt and has to deal with this crappy broken toe, I can’t help but smile at the memories of yesterday. I also know that if he could, he’d tell you he’d do it all over again, despite the injury.

And he will.

Thanks to Surfer’s Healing, our son will ride the waves once more.

Except this time, he’ll do it with a little more swagger. He’s earned it, after all.

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7 Replies to “He May Have Broken His Toe, But if He Could, He’d Tell You He’d Do it Again in a Heartbeat”

  1. Jo your family is amazing – the events you go through every day -seriously how can I complain. Thank you for sharing this story and pix!

  2. Maybe a waterproof cast When my son broke his arm, we were giving the option of a waterproof cast that still allowed him to swim,bathe,ect. I think we had to pay a small fee because insurance would not cover the extra cost to waterproof it(around $50) but totally worth it!!

  3. Thanks Linda! We all have our ups and downs and you have every right to complain about yours, hahah!

  4. We are going to look into this Shannon, thanks! His appt. is tomorrow morning, so we’ll see what the Ortho has to say.

  5. Jo and Mikey,
    You are one amazing family that I am proud to call my own.
    I Love you both dearly, and I love you and your amazing husband and the parents you are more than my words can ever express. I feel so blessed to call you all my own.
    PS: Andrew Rocked that ER, and Sam I am, wall, and dog are stuck in my head like a rap song, AND… I will from now on always keep a stick of deodorant in my purse.
    your BFF

  6. That looks like an amazing time surfing! That’s a really cool program. Glad Andrew is ok and hoping the waterproof cast works out (saw comment above). He truly looks at home in the water.

    On a sidenote, homemade deodrant of equal parts baking soda, arrowroot powder, and coconut oil has brought me stink free through some pretty tough days 🙂 I laughed when I saw you requested deodrant, but I totally understand. Special needs parenting is intense and proper deodrant is very essential. Having confidence in my scent definitely improves my advocacy skills.

    Hoping for a good ortho appt for you all tommorrow.

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