Week 1: What to Expect and Life Hacks

Hello all!

Wow this heat is INSANE isn’t it?  If you’re in London at least.  Don’t get me wrong, I am all over summer and I definitely thrive in the heat but this is not a city that’s necessarily designed for such sudden and intense heat haha.

So here’s my round up for Week 1 of the broken foot.  I actually can’t believe it’s already been over a week since I did it – it is at least going very quickly …

I’m going to break this down into psychological state, physical state and then practical tips what I have found challenging and how I overcame it.  That’s because one thing I haven’t really been able to find on the internet, apart from on the House Kat’s blog, is what actually to expect if something similar happens to you (God forbid, knock on wood etc).  So it’s a bit wordy but this is no doubt the wordiest update and all the rest will follow on.

Right.  Here goes.

Psychological state

Okay, so here’s the thing.  I’m a bit of a Pollyanna.  In fact, I’d put myself in the category of a truly annoying human being.  I can out-positive anything and my favourite phrase is “Erm, well at least this part isn’t so bad …”.  I genuinely believe that there are literally positive things about everything and you can totally change any experience by focusing on those positive aspects of it.  However, I have to say that this has tested me to the absolute limits!  Literally, I think I’ve been through every stage of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s five stages of grief.  There hasn’t been a day I haven’t cried, either from frustration or rage or depression – and I am definitely not a cryer normally!  It can hit at any time, and emotions are OUT OF CONTROL haha.  I’ve had a lot of moments of internally screaming “It’s not fair!!” and “Why me?!” and – my personal favourite – “2017 can FUCK OFF!!”.   I’ve also done a load of bargaining (I don’t care if I’m on crutches for all of 2018, just let me do the ultras now!!”) and there’s been some real disbelief … it seems so completely surreal that I could be happily trotting out a half marathon one day and not even able to walk the next.

On top of that … don’t even get me started on the fear.  Serious terror – honestly, there’s so much to worry about.  They prescribed Rivaroxaban as an anticoagulant because I have an increased risk of blood clots generally, and the immobilisation increases that risk again to real threat levels.  However Rivaroxaban can have devastating and irreversible side effects … like a gastrointestinal bleed that can’t be staunched.  Therefore I’ve chosen not to take it, but every ache and pain in my calves is a nagging fear.  Then there’s the fear that this won’t be better in six weeks, that I’ve done irreversible damage by not having dealt with it earlier, that because it’s the navicular I’ll never be able to run an ultra again even if I can run shorter distances, that even if everything goes well and I can do Wadi Rum, my training will have been so compromised that I’ll be stranded in the desert.  Those are the big things, but there’s the almost constant fear of the small things – if the tube station’s crowded will someone knock me off my crutches?  Am I doing this boot up properly?  Will I be able to do what I need to do today?  Will someone give me a seat on the tube?  Will I get stranded somewhere?  Will I slip in the shower?  Will I fall when I’m trying to balance my groceries and my crutches?  Honestly, it’s never ending.  I never usually think this hard about anything so it’s a whole new ball game.

Finally, there’s the frustration.  Jesus Christ is it frustrating being non-weight-bearing!  Everything takes so unbelievably long.  A five minute walk is a 15 minute slog.  A quick trip to the grocery store takes an hour.  Cooking supper takes literally an hour.  Getting to the loo in the night (all of about 20 steps from bed) requires waking up sufficiently to get there – finding crutches, being awake enough to hop or (in extreme circumstances), sticking a pillow under my knees and worm crawling.  Yes I have had to do that when I thought I’d fall any other way!

So overall, despite trying so so so hard to focus on the positive (they caught it just in time, people are so lovely and kind, there is a lot of free cake, six weeks goes fast, the weather is good, I have an understanding boss who doesn’t mind me crawling around the office, and I so far have managed to do every single thing I’ve put my mind to with one exception, as below) it’s been a fairly overwhelming week.  I am making a list of all the good things every day and by the end of the week I have been feeling a lot better, so it is working.

Physical state

Haha so – when I went to get the diagnosis, I was in pretty much no pain at all.  Like, it hurt if I really thought about it and it had hurt after the run that morning, but generally, it was just a dull ache occasionally after exercise.  However … within a day of being on crutches I was in a LOT more pain!  My calf and foot keep seizing because I can’t put weight down or hold my foot at a 90*C angle, and I keep getting spasms and cramps in it.  My arms and shoulders are killing me, I have bruises and blisters all over my hands from the crutches, and my hips and right leg (the good one) are exhausted.  To add insult to injury (literally), the boot is sooooo heavy and when I’m sitting with it elevated, digs straight into the fracture site and when I’m not sitting with it elevated, cuts my right leg.  Seriously, it’s hilarious – this cure is a killer!

However, there have also been MASSIVE benefits, physically speaking.  I’m sleeping better than I have done for ages, ’cause I can take the boot off at night and I’m shattered. I’ve lost an absolute shit ton of weight – approximately 7lbs in a week and believe me it’s all water and fat, not muscle – despite dropping my gym hours from about 20 a week to, um, 2.  My abs look amazing and my upper body is getting super defined. I have a great tan because all I could do last weekend was lie on the balcony.  Look, you gotta take what you gotta take right?!  And if that means being shallow, then amazing.  Shallow I am going to be.  I’ve literally never looked better hahahaha … apart from the slightly niche boot and odd-shoe look.  But I like to think of it as fashion forward.

Challenges and how I overcame them

So I’ve burbled on a fair amount about feelings, here is the practical bit!  Here goes with what I found unexpectedly challenging and what I did about it.  Just to be clear about the situation here, I live alone, in an apartment, I live in Central London where the traffic situation makes anything other than underground travel an extremely long-winded process, I don’t have a cleaner or shopper or laundry person, I don’t have a handy boyfriend and my friends and sister all live literally scattered around all the other parts of London (and in a lot of cases, around England) and have manic lives and can’t really help me out.  I also work a busy job in a tiny firm of just three people, so I can’t take time off work and there is literally no-one to help me out if I need to complete a particular task, whether it’s physical or desk-bound … oh and I work in a listed building where everything (stairs, doors, building design) is crooked, heavy, accessible only by stairs and narrow.  So it’s not the most ideal situation if I’m honest pahahaha.  But it does mean I’ve overcome a lot of challenges this week!

  • Grocery shopping:  This has definitely been the hardest thing.  I’ve done it by grabbing a bag at the start, hooking it over my crutch and picking up just a couple things at a time … and navigating very very slowly around to the check-out.  Then I pack everything into a backpack and bob’s your auntie!  You can only  buy a few things at a time but that’s cool as long as you plan your meals in advance.  Essentials are good.
  • Public transport:  I have to catch the tube, but thank GOD I live and work on the District Line which is sub-surface and therefore has stairs everywhere.  I just take them slowly and if people are huffing and puffing behind me then they can just learn to wait.  It’s good for them.  I also make sure I get into the carriage closest to the exit for that particular station so that I’ve got the best chance of getting a seat, and when I’ve got on – if there are no seats – then I move as noisily as I can right down into the middle of the aisle where there is a range of people to get up.  I’ve never not gotten a seat this way.  I have yet to yell “Any chance of a seat to stop me falling on top of you?” but if necessary I will. When I’m going to an unfamiliar station I’ve checked the tube map to check the accessible options and as long as there’s a lift or stairs I’m dandy.  The one thing I really haven’t worked out yet is escalators – I actually got stuck at Sloane Square on Day 2 because the stairs were flooded and I literally couldn’t get onto the escalator.  Let’s not talk about the tube guy carrying me up.  It was embarrassing.  Buses are awesome and almost all of them kneel down so they’re easy to get on and off, and they’re rarely that crowded on my routes.  Taxis are kind of hard!  Black cabs are really hard to get into, but I have taken to throwing in my crutches and using the doorhandle to lever up into the cab.  Trains are fine so far, they’re just like tubes only easier because the gap between the train and the platform is narrower.
  • Showers:  I have an over-bath shower which is a little … tricky!  However I just turn it on, sit on the side of the bath, swing my legs over and hold onto the sides to slide down into it.  Job done.  I have accidentally hopped in the shower (like, literally just not thinking) so now I try to sit down on the bath-floor if I can, even though the water pressure isn’t that great.  But it works.  And I can shave my legs.  And wash both my feet.  This is not to be underestimated.  I have heard people say they can’t do baths but I do the same thing for baths, which I’m having nightly because it soothes my calf muscles to be in water and it works fine for me.
  • Taking out the trash:  Haha oh man this was one that I didn’t expect.  I live in an apartment as I said, and the trash area is like the opposite end of my building and downstairs and outside.  Key advice: use those 5p shopping bags as trash bags because even when they’re super full they tend to be very light (well, my trash is) and they’re pretty easy to get out.  The first time I had to do this I had a proper full rubbish bag and I had to kick it with my crutches all the way down the hall, being careful not to kick so hard it split.  It took forever.  Literally FOREVER.  I can’t even kick with my feet very well, let alone with one crutch while trying to balance on the other one haha.  But I got it there!
  • Carrying stuff:  Hopping, the bum shuffle, and (on hardwood floors) the knees-on-a-pillow, drag with your hands worm shuffle are all viable options.  Throwing is also a skill which develops quickly.  When you’re out and about, a backpack is amazing and also I don’t mind hooking a bag over one arm, but you can’t fill it that full or it knocks you off balance.
  • Carrying food and having coffee:  So, I meal prep generally so I have a bunch of those little plastic take out boxes with lids.  They are INVALUABLE because you can put your lunch in at work, hop to the staircase, crawl up the staircase, and then hop to your desk.  Bingo.  Similarly I have a few thermos flasks from races.  Buy them.  Buy lots of them.  Coffee is phenomenal and it’s the only way to get it from kitchen to office/kitchen to sofa and you can make two or three thermos-fulls (then put them in your backpack) and they stay warm for ages, so you don’t have to get yourself back to the kitchen for a while.  Bottled water is also a game-changer if you like to sip water instead of chugging it all in one and then having to slog back to get more later on.
  • Laundry:  I employed the crutches soccer kick again for this one – I used them to kick my laundry basket into the kitchen then sat on the floor to load the washing machine (easier than single-leg deadlifting, although I’ve done that too).  Then when it was done I loaded it all back into the basket and repeated the same process back to the living room, where I’d set up the clothes drying hanger by the sofa, so I could sit on the sofa while I loaded it up (if you have a tumble drier then I guess it would be a lot easier!).  Then when it was dry, I just folded it all sitting on the sofa, loaded it back into the laundry basket, and crutches-kicked it back to my room to put it all away.
  • Cooking:  Basically I ditch the crutches and hop, using the kitchen counter for support.  Sometimes I also sit on the kitchen counter if I find my right-leg’s killing me or I’m scared I’m accidentally going to put my left leg down.  It’s not graceful but it does work!  I do it at home and at work and the kitchens are really different, but these techniques work in both.
  • Stairs:  Out and about, I just use my crutches and generally it’s been absolutely fine, if a little bit energetic (but that’s cool, its good exercise).  However at work the stairs are non-negotiable with crutches, they’re super-narrow, very steep, and completely crooked vertically and horizontally.   They also have carpet which is full of trip hazards and if I fell, it would be down a long set of stairs onto a hardwood floor.  Therefore, I literally crawl up them with my bad knee and my good foot, and pull myself up on the top step using the bannister.  If I have to take my crutches up then I just drag them up with me, but I usually just leave them at the bottom and either hop or crawl into my office at the top.  To get down, I sit on my butt and slide down, using my good foot to control speed.
  • Alternative locomotion:  Sometimes crutches aren’t possible, as above.  Crawling is cool.  Babies must have very hard knees though, it really hurts after a while and carpet burns are sub-optimal.  Also I don’t think you should do it outside in case you get arrested and/or sectioned, but that’s up to you … in fact that goes for all of this section.  Just saying.  Using knees as feet and walking on them is kind of the same, so these are short-distance options.  The bum shuffle is particularly effective ’cause it works on every floor and up and down stairs and it doesn’t (unless you’re naked, but I’m usually not) create friction burns.  Hopping is awesome (though be careful because it is a bit jarring and obviously if your balance isn’t great then you do run the risk of falling).  The heel-toe side shuffle on the good foot works really well when it’s slippery or when you’re cooking or in the bathroom.  Putting a pillow under your knees and dragging yourself along with your hands/elbows is a phenomenal core work out (that’s where I got the idea actually) and really good if you have hardwood floors.  I use this one for the loo in the night, because I have low blood pressure and I’m always a bit dizzy when I first get up, so I don’t really like using crutches or hopping then.

God I’ve wittered on for ages, but I’m really really hoping this helps you out if you’re in this situation and you’re struggling.  I’m actually now two days into week 2 and honestly, it’s SO much better.  Partly because it’s not so overwhelming now – I know how to do so much more stuff!  Partly because I’m used to the pain and the … erm … lack of dignity (you really don’t care any more after a while if you look ridiculous), and it’s not so scary ’cause I’ve tried and tested so much stuff already.  So Week 2 is going to be a lot more of a positive blog and also much shorter haha!


4 thoughts on “Week 1: What to Expect and Life Hacks

  1. First up, sorry to hear about your injury. Total bummer! Second, I love your positivity in this post. That’s the kind of mindset you need to get through this. Back in 2010 I smashed my collarbone into pieces in a training crash (I was practising going downhill faster and braking into the corner later – guess I misjudged!). That was the winter we had temperatures of -20C. I had to catch the train to work for 6 weeks, and that was a joy! I remember eventually managing to put my socks on, that was a major win. People don’t realise how hard really simple things like that can be when your body is broken. I found writing about the rehab process really helped, sounds like that’ll be good for you too 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah Alasdair thank you so much both for the lovely comment and also the blog. Poor you! It sounds like an absolute nightmare. I’m glad you’ve made a full recovery now – and I’ve finally worked out how to follow your blog which is great, I love it.

      Liked by 1 person

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