I'm on crutches. Again.
I have a bad habit of unintentionally ending up in the ER every once in a while (seven concussions and counting). I had a good streak going—my last incident was a year and a half ago when a metal curtain rod fell on my head, just like a cartoon. I was about due for another visit, so naturally, I fell down a flight of stairs and broke my ankle.
Yes, I actually looked like this.
After a five hour experience in the ER, I was stinted up and on my way. Thankfully, I had someone available to spend the night and make sure I was all set up to get myself through the next day.
I'll admit, I've taken walking for granted even after being on crutches many times before. It's a privilege to have two functional legs and feet. I'll also admit I'm a supporter of the phrase, "If it looks stupid but it works, it ain't stupid."
This isn't my first time in a cast, but it is my first time being alone in one. Although I'll have some help soon, it's not practical for others to put their life on hold and monitor my liable self 24/7. Darwin would tell you I've acquired some new skills in order to adapt to my new environment-- only the strong survive.
So, I'd like to pass some tips along to the next person that breaks a lower limb and wonders how the hell they're going to make it through the day alone.
*Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. Do not attempt these if you are not physically equipped to do so. Seek professional help from a legitimate doctor if you're injured.
1. Stretch your good leg.
You're gonna be relying on it while you hop around for the next few weeks, so it's best to keep it stretched and ready to go. I like to point my toes toward me while my gimp leg is elevated. If you're feeling flexible, lean into it a bit.
2. Wheely chairs are your friend.
Wheelchairs are expensive and crutches are extremely uncomfortable, especially for someone who isn't balanced enough to not break my ankle in the first place. If you're stuck at the house and you have a desk or kitchen chair with wheels, put it to good use.
Whether you sit on it or put your knee up to use it as a scooter, just go slow so you don't bump into anything and be sure to keep your gimp leg off the floor.
3. So are pillows.
Elevate it. Don't question this one; pile them two or three high whenever you sit, lie down or sleep. You shouldn't be moving at all, but nature calls (we all have to eat and go to the bathroom) and moving it around can make it sore. I'm stubborn. I assume if I'm not in throbbing pain, I don't need to ice or elevate. Don't be like me—get a leg up in your recovery by getting your damn leg up.
4. Crawling is plausible when it comes to stairs.
I live on the third floor with no elevator. I am fully aware that I should not be putting pressure on my ankle, but hopping up three flights of stairs on one leg when you are far from athletic is the worst.
I kept my foot straight out and used the edge of my knee to make it up or scooted on my butt while using my hands to lift myself, and I plan to go back down as little as possible. Better than sleeping in my car, that's for sure.
5. Drink water.
I know, I know—water is the solution to all medical problems according to the internet. Having one functional leg makes activities like going to the bathroom or heating up some leftovers feel like an absolute workout. Crutches are no walk in the park either (ba dum tss). Pace yourself so you don't have to pee every hour, but stay hydrated.
6. Take your Vitamin C.
A combination of a cast that is covered in germs, not being able to exercise or shower without assistance is a recipe for sickness. Be sure to take precaution by drinking cranberry juice or taking supplements so you don't end up with a sinus infection on top of everything else (like I did).
7. Pants are optional.
Just take them off, honestly. Casts are bulky and it's hard enough to sit and stand, let alone balance on one leg to get pants pulled back up. If you have someone taking care of you, they probably love you enough to not be offended. Being in underwear is no different than being in a swimsuit, and no one ever makes a fuss about that.
8. Use a messenger bag or fanny pack.
If I'm moving my bed to the couch, I want to make sure I have everything with me so I only have to make one trip. Since my hands are occupied with crutches, I put my chapstick, phone, charger, book, water bottle, etc. into a bag and drape it around my neck or waist. Be careful—the purse will swing and can potentially knock a crutch off balance if carried normally.
9. Wrap the top of your crutches.
Dish towels, long socks or even a stretchy medical wrap work well (and rubber bands to secure in place). I waited to do this and ended up with some gnarly blood blisters on my sides. Do it ASAP. Your armpits will thank you.
10. Your good leg will feel bionic.
You know how when you workout for the first time in a long time and your entire body feels like it's mad at you? That's how the first few days of crutches feel. Give it some time and your leg will build up a tolerance. My right calf muscle? Solid. My left calf muscle? Swollen.
11. Wear a bra (if applicable).
I'm busty. My back has its own problems prior to crutches—the last thing I need is for the girls to have a free-for-all while I'm trying to get to the bathroom. However, if you're able to relax and have someone to help you, by all means, take it off.
12. Plan before you move.
OK, what is the safest way to get yourself dressed? Would it be easier to reach your pain medicine before you hobble to the sink to brush your teeth or vice versa? Think things through before you move around more than necessary.