Last Saturday during a basketball game, our son Alex came down awkwardly on his ankle. To add insult to injury, another player stepped on Alex’s ankle as he fell to the floor. My husband and another dad had to help carry Alex off the court, as he tried to fight back tears, save his pride and prove how tough he was. The tough was over when one of the coaches tried to take off Alex’s shoe to apply ice. Tears and pain flowed freely.
I missed all this because I had been home with our younger son who was sick. But I learned about the injury because Alex’s coach sent an e-mail asking if we would be taking Alex to get an x-ray. I received the coach’s e-mail about 10 minutes before Alex and his dad got home. So you can understand when my immediate response upon reading the e-mail was Huh?, followed by WTF, then My baby! Why would an x-ray be necessary? which moved back to to WTF – is my husband’s iPhone so complicated for him to use that he can’t call or text me about something that might require an x-ray? and finished up with Whatever is going on, I’m sure I can convince my husband that I don’t need to cook dinner tonight because I’m too distraught.
But my husband did text his brother about it. Mars vs. Venus, people.
We didn’t have the injury assessed that evening, but Sunday morning Alex’s ankle was more swollen and he was having trouble walking on it. My husband took him to the urgent care center. We picked urgent care over the emergency room because these things NEVER happen during normal doctor’s office hours. And because last year when my husband was experiencing pain in his nether regions, he went right to the emergency room after consulting WebMD. His pain turned out to be a mild infection that cost us over $700 in emergency room deductibles. Editor’s Note: When I fell off the front porch and severely sprained my arm, I waited 4 days to go to urgent care (“I’m fine. Really. It’s not unusual to have your arm swell up to twice its normal size.”). I found out I had severely sprained my arm and should have had it in a sling from the minute I landed on that flagstone path. Again, Mars vs. Venus.
It turns out Alex had a bad sprain and had to wear an air cast, use crutches and was instructed not to participate in any sports activities for a week. We could reassess his pain in about 7 days.
The coach e-mailed us early this Saturday to ask about Alex’s status for playing. I replied that Alex’s ankle was getting better, but he still had some pain when he ran. He wouldn’t be able to play, but he would be there to support his team.
We arrived for the pre-game warm ups and Alex asked “Can I try to play today? Dad said I could”. Well, this was news to me. As usual.
I told Alex that his injury had required medical attention. And the worst thing he could do was try and play if his body wasn’t ready. In the event he played, he might reinjure it in its weakened state. I told him that if he did decide to play and felt any pain, he would have to alert his coach immediately so he could take a time out and get a substitute. After explaining all the reasons not to play, along with what to do if he did play and felt pain, I said “but the choice is yours Alex. I am going to leave it up to you and trust your judgement”. Gulp!
Alex went into the locker room with his teammates. When he came out he was still in his warm up gear and not in his uniform. He went to the bench to sit and watch his teammates hit the court and conduct workout drills just prior to the game.
I was a bit in awe. My almost 11 year old had listened (amazing) to my assessment of the cons of playing and had made the mature decision to sit out the game, rather than push his luck.
I walked over and asked “Alex, have you decided not to play?”. And then all 11 years of maturity came pouring out as he huffed: “Yes. Because I can tell you really don’t want me to do it. And if I mess up my ankle more, it means I might not be able to play basketball even longer. And I’ve already missed a week of winter baseball workouts too. This is SO stupid! And super SUCKY! This ankle thing REALLY BITES!”
I quietly responded: “I’m proud of you for the decision you made. Be sure to support your teammates today”. As I walked back to my seat, it was the second time in a week that a Rice was trying to keep tears from flowing on the basketball court.