a tale of two sprains

I have recently been laid up with an injury that has given me time to reflect on a previous, similar injury, and compare and contrast how they both were handled.

Many years ago, back in high school, I sprained my ankle, at least, I think I sprained my ankle, it swelled to the size of a grape fruit and turned terrifying shades of blue and purple. It hurt to put pressure on it. Unable to walk on it, I hobbled to the nearest phone and had my mother pick me up from school.

When I got home, my father made me elevate it and rest — this probably the only practical thing that was done, while my mother called the family Christian Science Practitioner. As I somewhat tearfully explained my ankle was swollen and bruised, she brushed all that side, and began to admonish me that I was perfect and spiritual, and there was no ankle, or something along those lines, and I was being tricked by mortal mind/error, and I need to read some section of the lesson. She rather abruptly hung up.

This was, of course, no real help. I spent the weekend taking it somewhat easy — I didn’t really have much of a choice, I couldn’t walk, and by Monday the swelling had subsided enough that my foot looked almost normal, and my parents deemed me fit to return to school.

The CSP, having never laid eyes on me, or my ankle, declared me fully healed, and when I attempted to argue she told me that mortal mind lies, and that was the end of it. I could walk on it, it felt okay, clearly I had been healed. Praise Christian Science.

I used that story as my “demonstration of Christian Science” portion for the Principia College admissions essay.

There was one problem with this story, it was a blatant lie: my ankle is most certainly not healed, and Christian Science only made things worse.

The new injury came on more slowly than the sprained ankle. It built up over several days, a little over a week, before I was rendered almost unable to put weight on my foot. Then I ignored it for a few more days, hoping it would just get better. I finally scheduled an appointment with my doctor.

My doctor was empathetic, she heard me and asked how I might have hurt my foot. She explained sometimes these things happen, the foot is complicated and there are a lot of bones and tendons, and sometimes things fracture or are strained/sprained without there being an obvious causing event (this may or may not be true, but it made me feel better about it).

My doctor felt my foot and ankle, and compared it with the other uninjured one, there was no swelling, or obvious issue. To rule out fractures, she ordered x-rays, which came back normal. We talked through practical treatment options, none of which included reading Science & Health, all of which were grounded in practical steps I could take, and further steps to take if the first set didn’t work.

It is a little frustrating that in 2019 the cure for a sprained foot (yes, that is a thing) is 4-6 weeks of taking it easy, wearing supportive shoes and putting your feet up, with ice and take anti- inflammatories if/as needed, at the same time, it was liberating.

When I share this with a friend she was horrified they couldn’t do more to manage the pain. Perhaps my years in Christian Science have set the bar low for such injuries, but really, what more is there to do?

I was seen, my pain was acknowledged and validated, practical steps for treatment were discussed, I have a time frame in which this should occur. While I have spent a fair bit of time with my feet up, I’ve also been able to do the majority of what I need to get done because I’m wearing appropriately supportive footwear, and am pacing myself so I don’t over-do things.

I’m not going to try and force the healing to happen faster so I can demonstrate how good I am at it. Sprains take time, and 4-6 weeks sounds quite realistic. An insta-healing in 3 days isn’t a healing at all, it is setting yourself up for a lifetime of random ankle pains that don’t show up on x-rays.


It has been a few weeks since I initially wrote this post, and I am pleased to say things are progressing nicely. I’ve been following my Doctor’s recommendations. I’m not completely over the injury (I’m still within the 4-6 weeks of predicted recovery), but there has been a huge improvement.

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