Gary limped through the door with his arm over the shoulder of a friend. He moaned as he flopped down on the couch in the health office waiting room. This lanky 14-year-old had made his way from the gym where he had turned his ankle during a basketball game.
Gary’s friend headed back to class and I asked Gary to elevate his leg on the couch, told him to leave his shoe on, and I retrieved ice packs. After a quick examination of the ankle which had begun to swell, I told him I thought it was sprained, but felt it should be checked by his doctor since he was unable to put any weight on it. I suggested it would most likely need the R.I.C.E prescription . . . rest, ice, compression and elevation. When Gary’s mother arrived I sent him off with a pair of crutches we kept for such happenings.
The next school day Gary arrived in the office with his foot wrapped and a report from his visit to the doctor. “At first he thought it was broken, but then an x-ray showed it wasn’t. He told me to go home and do the R.I.C.E. thing. He also told me to take aspirin. So, that is what I did. The problem is—it didn’t work, nurse. It STILL hurts.”
I told Gary I was sorry, and suggested maybe he should have a day at home. Obviously frustrated he emphatically said , “But I did the stuff you and the doctor said, and it didn’t work! What are you going to do, nurse?”
As I talked with Gary about the slow and somewhat painful healing of a sprain, I remembered my first sprained ankle at about the same age. It was an experience when I began to learn we don’t always have painless instant cures.
May we all wait with hope as we wait for all kinds of healing in these slowly resolving and painful days.