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Son's heart heals pain


September 22, 2013
By Scott Franco ( , The Altoona Mirror

Doesn't every family have that one aunt, uncle or grandparent who worries all the time about everyone's health?

Maybe it's just an Italian thing, but I'm talking about that one person who constantly wants to know how you're doing, have you visited the doctor recently, and are you up to date on all your prescriptions.

We have that person in our family - my 10-year-old son, Dominic.

Of course, I wouldn't trade him for anyone, or anything, in the world. He's better than medicine.

Back in early August, I injured my back - badly enough that I wound up going to the emergency room. That, in itself, could have been a column because I couldn't find anyone to take me, and I didn't want to call for an ambulance. Too dramatic.

It was a Sunday morning, and because my wife and daughter, Julianna, were at a 4-H competition in Huntingdon for the weekend, I started calling other family members. No one was home. Everyone was at church.

Dominic, who was home with me, began to worry. He was not used to seeing me ill.

I finally put a call in to my best friend, John Dibert, who at the time was also at church, in line getting communion. Did I mention he forgot to turn off his cell phone? Did I mention that his phone rang just as he approached the priest? I think his ring tone is the background music for when Charlton Heston's Moses character comes down off the mountain in "The Ten Commandments."

But I digress.

John soon arrived to take me to the ER. My daughter, Maggie, stayed behind to keep Dominic calm, but the floodgates had opened. He was crying. I told him not to be scared and that I'd be fine. His reply: "These aren't tears of sadness. They are tears of concern."

If it is possible to laugh and feel incredible pain at the same time, I did that day.

There is also no truth to the rumor, either, that my other son, Vincent (Dominic's twin), was reported to have said, "Will your trip to the ER affect my allowance?"

And to show you that I always keep my sense of humor, when we got to the ER, and the doctor came out and asked me what happened, my reply was: "I got old, and I got fat again."

He laughed, which kind of made my day. I wanted to try other material on him, like for instance, when I go shopping for clothes, there is small, medium, large, X-large and "Hey, stop eating!"

But I paced myself.

The doctor diagnosed my problem, put me on pain medication and told me I had to lose weight, which I've heard about a million times in my life.

I wanted to put a sign on my fridge that says, "If you eat, you'll die." My wife thought that was too much. She wanted something more positive. Less morbid.

Instead, since Aug. 11, I've changed my eating habits, continued exercising and in the process, dropped a few pounds.

Dominic still worries. One morning he found me on the couch. His first words: "Is your back hurting again?"

I informed him that I simply awoke before him and came out to watch TV. Big sigh of relief on both our parts.

There is still a long way to go, but right now, the best medicine that I have taken - and I've got a small pharmacy building on my kitchen counter - has come from my son.

His words, his tears and his concern are just what the doctor ordered.

Scott Franco, a member of the Mirror sports staff, is a husband and father of four. He can be reached at 946-7528 or sfranco@

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