Happy Tuesday y’all! How is the week going so far? I hope it’s fantastic. I feel like I start every blog post this way but seriously, what better way to start? Here in London the weather is warming up (apparently we’re having another mini heatwave from tomorrow), the birds are singing and everyone seems to be in a good mood (when you’re talking about Londoners, it can be hard to tell to the naked eye, but I have good training in that regard). I had the most lovely weekend – I did a nice gym/swim session on Saturday (and I’m now getting to know the regulars at the pool which is lovely) and then I headed up to Shropshire on Sunday to see my friend Jess. Our other friend Susan also came too which was amazing – Jess is in Shropshire, Susan is in Brighton and I’m in London so we rarely get to hang out. It was fantastic!
Here’s the round-up of the Week 3 – I’m half way there as of yesterday! How exciting.
Other than a bit of Stockholm Syndrome in respect of any and all of my crutches, airboot and Belinda (my hands-free crutch) I’m not doing so badly really. Half way is a really exciting milestone to have reached! When I look back to how I was doing in Week 1 I can’t believe how much better I feel. If you happen to be reading this because you’ve just found yourself popped into crutches, honestly, give it a few days.
I think that if there’s one thing that’s changed since last week in terms of my mental outlook, it’s that I’m more scared of surgery. Previously I was just worried about how I was ever going to get through six weeks; now I’m looking longer term. The closer 24 July comes, the more worried I am that it won’t have healed and that I’ll have to have surgery. I think this stems from the fact that I have no clue whatsoever whether it’s healing or not – it feels exactly the same as it did initially, ie I can’t really feel it. So I just have to hope and trust that this boot is doing its thing. I have, as a result of this fear, resorted to some possibly insane, but almost certainly not harmful tactics – I’ve been to Holland & Barrett and stocked up on calcium and Vitamin D, plus also some malt extract (that may or may not have been more about the fact that malt extract tastes like the elixir of life, but it says “good for bones” on it, so I’m gonna run with it). I’ve also got some Omega3 which I’m chewing on like sweets. If a mineral will help, a mineral I’m going to eat … In addition, I was trying to work out what promotes blood flow to a specific area. Other than friction – cough cough – I thought about heat, which also tends to enhance blood flow. I’m certain that this is probably not to bones, but I couldn’t care less, so I have been sitting either with the heater directly on it at work (to the annoyance of my boss, since I’m not paying the electricity bill, oops) and a hot water bottle or wheatbag at home. As Tesco tells me, every little helps …!
Mmm well, mostly this is pretty good … most excitingly – THANK GOD – I have now lost almost all the muscle in my calf so woop woop it’s bye-bye to atrophy pain! This is such a relief ’cause that was definitely the worst bit, it felt like someone was chewing on my calf. So physically all is well!
Tips and Tricks
Right, so this week I thought I’d focus on some of the things that are unexpectedly difficult. You know, some things are super obvious, like, obviously it’s hard to carry stuff or to drive or whatever, but others just catch you off guard! So here are a few things that have cropped up:
Escalators: I know I mentioned these in Week 1 but they are truly impossible. It’s not possible to get two thin sticks to balance on a small platform that’s moving away from you while you simultaneously try and swing your weight upwards and forwards onto the same small platform. You just can’t, and no-one realises … in fact, at Victoria Station, the “access” to the upper floor is via an escalator (how they think wheelchairs are getting up there is a mystery). So I’m afraid that stairs, ramps and lifts are the way forward ’cause you won’t be going anywhere fast on an escalator except straight to the bottom when you fall.
Patchwork streets: This may be a particularly London thing, but the streets are insanely uneven with hundreds of years of repairs and different strategies. Villiers Street in Embankment borders on insanity – between various types of cobbles, crazy paving, vents, glass squares, drain covers and grates, it’s honestly like a roller coaster. You have to spend an awful lot of time looking down to know where your crutches are going. On the upside I know now that those grey panels with the glass squares are made by Luxcrete and the red stony ones are made by Lenscrete. Knowledge is knowledge.
Sitting in the car: Okay this should NOT be this difficult, but I’ve caught a couple Ubers and within ten minutes I’m internally screaming ’cause there’s nowhere to put my leg and it’s crushed up against the front seat, because the boot is so big. And I am a very little person! The solutions are obviously to sit in the front or to sit on the side opposite the bad leg and extend it down the seat, both of which work unless there are like five of you in the car. Or just catch black cabs. God knows you spend enough extra getting around with this anyway, why not add a few extra quid …
Public loos: These are not difficult for the reasons I thought they’d be (ie getting in and out of them) but because a) the floors are usually wet and therefore slippery; and b) they usually have dryers which are away from the handbasin. That means that between washing your hands and drying them you have to put all your weight through wet hands on your slippery crutch handles, on a slippery floor. Since the dryers are then usually those electronic ones, you have no means at all of drying your crutch handles unless you take a little towel with you. Or use loo roll, thus defeating the entire purpose of washing your hands to start with. I opt for the little towel (actually it’s an old terry-towelling headband which I got free at the MoRun!).
One way doors: Pushing doors open is dandy. Pulling them open is a whole new story. As long as it’s not a heavy door, you can just pull it open violently (thus also expelling some pent up frustration) and it’ll give you enough time to get your crutches back on the ground, find your balance, and hop on through. If it’s a heavy fire door (or in the case of my work, an 18th century wood-and-iron job) then you have two choices:
- Swing it open with equal violence as you would a lighter door and hope to God you get through without tripping over before you get knocked out by the door swinging back – this is a good strategy if you’re suicidal; or
- Stand on your good leg, hang your crutches over your arms ready to slide into place, and lean on it with your full body weight. When you’re ready, give it a final shove and then quickly slide your crutches back down and get on through without losing your balance.
The second is a safer but also more time-consuming strategy, so I like to mix them up. #livingontheedge
Train travel: This is kind of all mixed into three categories. I thought it would be hard to navigate the station (and sometimes it is, but mostly it’s cool) … however I have now learned three important things about trains:
- The gap between the train and the platform can be enormous. On the same theme, the height between the train and the platform can be anything up to about three feet, and you have to get yourself up that height while balancing on an extremely small, slippery iron step. If you fall, you’ll either do a header into the train if you’re lucky or fall straight down between the famous gap if you aren’t (or onto the concrete platform) . It’s totally doable, but you just have to be really careful. Virgin West Coast, I’m talking to you!
- Issue two is the width of the aisles. I am, as noted, a small human, but the aisles are almost too narrow even for me – and that’s when I’m not carrying anything and there are no people sticking their feet out or putting luggage in the aisle. Basically, to get down the aisle requires at least some side-stepping – and if you’re bigger than a UK size 8 and/or you’re carrying anything, I’d say the whole thing would need to be done side-stepped, ’cause you don’t have enough room to swing through your crutches (they were brushing my hips on either side). Again, it’s doable, but it’s worth practising in advance unless you’re an expert crutch-user.
- Issue 3 is related to the width of the aisles, but also requires an extra step (if you will) – it’s going to the loo on a train. God. So basically you have to navigate the aisles once more (again with the side-stepping) but this time while the train is on the move. And you’ve got no hands to catch yourself with. I did manage this but I was absolutely terrified pahahaha. My advice would be to sit in the seat nearest the loo and hope for the best! Or just dehydrate for three days before you get on the train of course … probably not the healthiest option though.
Parties and general standing around: Okay, I’m going to leave you with my BEST TIP. So, my work had it’s 10 year anniversary party this week at my boss’s house (he has the set up for these things). It was such an amazing night and since it was at his place I didn’t think twice about it but … you want to be up chatting to people right?! Not stuck in a corner waiting for someone to come take pity on you. Add a few gins to that and you think you can stand for hours but you can’t really! I have two solutions – the first is to utilise a chair that moves, turn it round, and kneel on it. You can move with it! The second is one I’ve actually used since to great effect. Basically, what you can do is balance on your good foot and sling the knee of your bad leg over the hand of the crutch on the same side. Then you can pop your hand back through if you want, and voila, there’s you all balanced! It means you can distribute your weight way more evenly between your hips and I love that, it means I’m at much less risk of imbalance injuries going forward. It might be a little bit trickier than I’m making it sound, because I was drunk when I came up with this plan so balancing seemed really easy and by the time I’d sobered up I had had a lot of practise at it – but honestly, it’s awesome! There’s always so much standing around you know, like, waiting for trains, waiting to cross the road, waiting for tubes and it does all add up. My knee and hips are always killing me by the end of the day – but now I’ve come up with this plan they don’t seem to hurt at all. Hurrah!
I’d like to thank The Academy …
In addition to the lovely people I mentioned last week, I also need to say a massive YOU’RE AWESOME to:
- AXA PPP for being AMAZING – they waived my excess because they knew I was so upset about the prospect of surgery and they wanted to take one worry off my mind;
- My boss again – I know he came up last week but he paid for my cabs so I didn’t miss the work party;
- Jess for collecting me from Wolverhampton so I didn’t have to change trains at Birmingham New Street;
- Flora for continuing with the lovely funny texts/memes;
- The court guards for making me laugh when I turned up not in gym kit for once … instead standing out for all new reasons!;
- My poor client who’s going to trial this week, for carrying all my boxes up and down the stairs for me (I can do this myself by crawling / sliding, he insisted).
I can’t think of any others; I haven’t really been out much so I’ve not really come into contact with new people so much this week – and everyone is used to me crawling around now haha!
I hope you’re all having fantastic weeks and see you next week for Part 4 … OMG when I will be TWO THIRDS THROUGH!!!!!!!
4 thoughts on “Broken Leg Week 3: Oddly Hard Stuff”
That’s almost four weeks now, you’ll be back out running before you know it! I’m loving these insights into life on crutches. I work as a designer, and a lot of what we do is what you’ve been doing – experiencing life as others do. We call it ethnographic research. You’ve basically learned a shit-load of valuable information and identified a gazillion problems that people face. Now, if we can just figure out how to solve them, we could become millionaires….. 🤑🤑
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I wish I found this while I was still on crutches! So insightful 🙂
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Ah that’s so lovely – thanks Cinnamon! I am so so glad you’re better, seeing you back on your bike is such great motivation. I hope you’re enjoying being back to normal (almost) soooo much!
OMG Alasdair that sounds so fascinating. I’d love to experience life as others do (temporarily) – imagine all you’d be able to experience. Ha, solving is next level though … that’s the dream! Bring on Dragons’ Den!
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