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Author Topic: Dealing with foot injury, crutches, and getting around  (Read 22222 times)
history_grrrl
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« on: April 21, 2012, 12:02:12 PM »

So, I just fractured the fifth metatarsal bone in my foot. I got crutches at the walk-in clinic, and my regular doctor sent me to get a walking boot-cast (looks like a giant ski boot) and cane. He seems to think I should be able to walk using this set-up. I consoled myself by getting a cane in cool psychedelic '60s colors. Woohoo.

The boot/cane combo is certainly better than the crutches, but it's very painful to bear weight even with the boot. I can make my way around the house using this, sort of, but mainly because there are walls and doors to hold onto.

The crutches, on the other hand, are awful. I find it very physically stressful to use them (which then causes other kinds of stress). They require a lot of chest-muscle and upper-arm strength that I don't really have, for medical reasons related to why this happened in the first place. If I have to rely on the crutches, I fear it will be really difficult for me to leave my house.

Since I live alone and don't drive, I'm thinking of hiring a student for 10-15 hours week to do things like grocery shopping, laundry, bringing me stuff from my office, moving files from one room to another in my house so I can work on my book revisions, etc. I also want to find someone to do a thorough housecleaning, since of course the place was a pigsty when this happened.

I'm supposed to take a short trip late next week to see my SO, but it involves air travel, connections, etc. Unless it becomes less painful to bear weight with the boot, I think I won't be going.

I haven't figured out how I'm going to bathe yet; I plan to tackle that later today.

I'd like to know how others have dealt with mobility limitations related to lower-extremity injuries. What made it easier? What was hardest to do? What should I be planning for? Is there any way to make this upcoming trip possible, or should I just forget it? Why does the universe hate me?

Thanks in advance for any and all advice.
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johnr
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« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2012, 12:16:37 PM »

I was in a similar situation a couple of years ago when I broke my lower leg; walking boot/cast, cane, crutches.  I actually loved my cane and used it extensively as a teaching prop (as a pointer, to rap on the desk, etc...).  I miss it now. I pretended I was Dr. House.  When I get a bit older, and can carry it off, I'm going to always have a cane with me. 

I ended up taking a long time to heal because I used my cane too much and walked around too much.  I had to start  using the crutches to keep the weight off and to keep the ends of my broken bone from moving around.  Crutching is hard to do, at first, but you get better with time as the new muscles build. No getting around the pain though.  I still feel it, two years later.

I was going to tell you to get a temp. handi-cap tag (easy to do), but you don't drive. 

A trip, now?  Airport?  Carrying luggage?  No way!  Have SO come visit you!!!

Also, have you seen that wheely thing that you can kneel on with one leg and push yourself around?  I didn't have one, because I didn't know they existed.  I'll get one in a heart-beat the next time I break my leg.   
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frogfactory
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« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2012, 12:41:13 PM »

(hugs). 

Been there, done that (you've possibly seen my whines about it.  Bimalleolar fracture, metal plates.  I was in a series of casts before the boot, though).  My solution, which won't help you much was to sit at home stoned on painkillers for most of two months while 98 fetched and carried for me.  It was not easy, and would have been impossible without him.  I did, however ditch the boot after about a week because I discovered it caused a lot more pain than walking cautiously with a single crutch and the firmest ankle support I could buy.  I'm still wearing the support; have ditched the crutch and just put up with limping and sitting a lot.

For bathing - I got a shower chair delivered from Amazon.  While the cast was on I also kept my foot wrapped in a bin bag and propped up on a bucket.  Not glamourous, but did the job.

I am concerned that mobility is likely to be a problem for you.  Leg injuries tend to be more immediately debilitating, as a rule, the closer you get to the toes.

If you can, hiring a student or something might indeed be the best way to go.  I also second the suggestion that SO comes to you.

Best wishes - hope you heal fast.
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michigander
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« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2012, 1:07:00 PM »

Get yourself one of those wheely things.  I've had 2 surgeries on my left foot which required me to be non-weight bearing for weeks at a time.  The first time, my insurance company paid for "rollabout" rental.  The second time they didn't, but I did and it was reasonably inexpensive and worth every penny.  I used it on the first floor of my house and took it with me when I drove to work or had to go shopping by myself.  I used crutches on the upper floor where my bedroom is and went up and down the stairs on my butt.  Rather than trying to use the shower or tub without falling and hurting myself, I pulled a stool into the bathroom and gave myself sponge baths at the sink.  It wasn't fun, but I got used to it, and it worked.  Good luck!
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peitho
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« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2012, 1:48:29 PM »

Although I have no broken bones, I have a debilitating and chronic foot injury. 

Whatever your doctor recommends about staying off your feet or moving about during the healing process, do it.  The more closely you can follow the doctor's recommendations, the faster you will heal and the more likely you are to have less trouble in the future.

I second the shower chair.  I've known others who have used them for various injuries, and it made bathing possible.  Also made them feel like real people again.

I would postpone the trip, if that's possible.  It may be too much with a fresh injury.  Can you get a credit from the airline, or a refund?  If you do go, take every advantage that comes with your cast.  Board first, take the cart through the airport, etc.   I can understand why you don't want to postpone it, but it may really be too much to be in an airport if you can barely manage your house.

Don't forget the handicapped sticker for your car, either. 

And don't apologize for anything--you don't want the broken bone to affect your life long after the initial break has healed. 

I'm very happy you have the money to hire some help.  That's a great idea, and you will certainly need some help if you're on your own. 

Wishing you the best!
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fiona
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« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2012, 3:26:33 PM »

Get the handicapped sticker even if you don't drive. Others who drive you can park nearer to buildings and let you off.

Swim once you can. It lengths and strengthens the muscles.

At airports, order a wheelchair ahead of time. It not only gets you through the airport faster and with less stress, but it also means you get through airport security a lot faster and more easily.

Don't hesitate to ask other people to do things for you. They're often eager to do so.

Don't be vain about looking disabled. You are.  If you can pull off looking stately, good for you. I used to carry a cane and look imperious. One time at an airport, I declaimed, "Out of the way, peasants!" The wheelchair pusher loved that moment.

When I had a cast and couldn't take showers because of it, I did sponge baths but went to the hairdresser's to have them wash my hair for me. It cost $5.

After the first shock, it gets easier to manage all this stuff. You develop routines, such as keeping pens or papers or such needed stuff in every room in your house. Or have a small, light bag you take with you when you move from one room to another.

It's an intellectual challenge and not my fave one, but it helps to have routines.

The Fiona

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The Fiona or Them FionŠ or Fiona the Sublime

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frogfactory
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« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2012, 8:30:27 PM »

Ooh, and you get to use the shopmobility carts at the supermarket (assuming you can get there).  That always brightened my day a bit.
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macaroon
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« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2012, 9:10:49 PM »

For around the house, get a big hooded sweatshirt with one of those single front pockets on the stomach.  It will help you carry things around the house. 

Get well soon!
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frogfactory
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« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2012, 1:45:14 AM »

The other thing I did especially while still pretending I could be productive and at least write while on the drugs was to convert the living room into my office, so I could have my laptop, books and TV within reaching radius from the sofa and limit trips on the stairs to down in the morning and back up at night.  I also got an wheeled office chair to the living room so I could scoot to the kitchen to get tea.  Much safer for carrying hot drinks than on crutches!
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At the end of the day, sometimes you just have to masturbate in the bathroom.
systeme_d_
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« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2012, 2:32:47 AM »

About the crutches:  Make sure you're using them properly. Google up a video or something, but make sure that the balls of your hands are taking the pressure on the handle of the crutches.  The crutches should NOT be high enough to touch your armpits when you are standing.

My partner is on crutches right now, and the nursing staff was terrific about showing us how to use the crutches correctly.
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klaradeb
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« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2012, 6:50:30 AM »

About grocery shopping: can you get your groceries delivered where you are? Here you can order online from a supermarket chain and they'll bring your stuff right into your kitchen during your preferred time slot. You'll pay a few dollars for the delivery, of course, but it's still cheaper and more convenient than paying someone to do the entire shopping trip for you.

I use this service all the time and I don't have a health issue, just no car.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2012, 6:53:33 AM by klaradeb » Logged
history_grrrl
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« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2012, 10:03:20 AM »

This is all so helpful; thank you! Some friends are doing a grocery run today and picking up a shower chair from my homey neighborhood pharmacy. I'm slowly getting the hang of things. I have a little pocket around my neck for things like a pen, the air pump for the walking boot, post-it notes, meds, etc. For quite a while I've had this great glasses case that hangs around your neck; this is now a lifesaver. I spent a looooooooong time on ice last night, and it definitely helped.

I think one of the main things is just accepting that I can't follow my normal timetable. Everything is slowed down now. For example, I will not get my grades submitted when I had planned this coming week. And I will have to miss the job candidate interview in favor of getting tips from my physiotherapy place on how to manage. The other big thing is asking for help. It's not so hard once you get started, is it?

By the way, my family doctor pointed out that House uses his cane on the wrong side! It's supposed to be on the good side.
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frogfactory
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« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2012, 11:00:59 AM »

By the way, my family doctor pointed out that House uses his cane on the wrong side! It's supposed to be on the good side.

Yep!  I think this was actually lampshaded in one episode.  He refused to switch over, obviously. 
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At the end of the day, sometimes you just have to masturbate in the bathroom.
mended_drum
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« Reply #13 on: April 22, 2012, 1:34:31 PM »

I have a friend who's in this same situation; I don't live near enough to help, but if I were closer, I would.  I wish you a speedy recovery.
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peppergal
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« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2012, 3:13:48 PM »

I once broke my ankle while at a conference, so avoiding the airport was not going to happen (I had to get home...).  I second everything The Fiona said.  Call ahead and arrange for a wheelchair, use the Skycap service, etc.

For on campus, a backpack is key.  The only thong I couldn't really manage was wielding an umbrella and crutches simultaneously, and of course the two weeks I was on crutches (before getting the boot/cane combo) were wet.  I have no good solution to that.
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