Crutches for beginners
You need a day off hearing about the Thermomix and I have learned a lot about getting about on crutches in the last seven days and I feel I should share. When you’re given crutches, you get a lesson on how to hold them and how to get up and down a step and you’re on your way. Some people don’t even get that. There’s so much more to it than that.
Garb. You’re going to find yourself a little restricted in what you can wear. For me the ideal outfit is a long tunic with pockets. Fortunately I do have one of these and am wearing it a lot. Dresses in general are good, but not too short. A fibreglass cast has a lot of the characteristics of Velcro, so avoid the delicate fabrics and you may want to rethink the lacy undies. Tshirts are no good, they ride up a lot, and even though your abs are in better shape than they have been for years, no one really wants to see them. Tight singlets seem to stay put if you can find pants that will go over your cast. You will need a handbag that goes over your neck and one shoulder because you can’t carry anything at all in your hands and there’s only so much you can stuff into your bra and the waistband of your undies.
Stairs. Avoid them. I do have a step in our house and here’s the thing. If you’re on crutches, going down is hard, especially if there’s more than one, and up is easy. If you have to go down a set of stairs I would seriously consider throwing your crutches down them and going down on your bottom. Going up, you just need to do it slowly. If you’ve built up your left buttock and calf sufficiently to do a bit of hopping you should concentrate very hard when going up. You don’t want a broken wrist as well. Going down is much easier on the hop.
Doors. The best way to open a door while on crutches is to stand beside it and put on your sad face until someone comes along and opens it for you. This doesn’t work when you’re alone at home and trying to get out two doors at the front of the house while blocking egress to two small dogs. I’ve developed a technique that involves holding the crutches in one hand to fend off the dogs and doing the twist on my left foot with a backward hop. It takes a while.
Shopping. You can’t do it. I’ve tried, and I’ve failed. I had to be rescued by a kind lady called Janet who is a retired education lecturer and is now considering joining the Grad Choir. If you really must, you have to go somewhere they’ll pick and pack for you and only buy what you can fit in your handbag. You could try holding a shopping bag by your little finger while using your crutches but be warned, it will throw your balance right off. Get a shopping buddy, that way you don’t have to explain what version of Metamucil you get and where it is and you can choose your own alternatives to the cat’s kangaroo meat when they don’t have it in stock yet again. Anybody free to go shopping on Wednesdays?
Standing. You need to do it in the kitchen, and you need to do it while ironing. Yes, I know the kids should be doing it, but they’re already looking after the washing, garbage and dishwasher, so I’ll iron for them. You want something to rest your knee on so your body can pretend it’s standing properly to give your weight bearing leg a rest. While ironing I use the decaying corpse of a defunct computer, it’s just the right height. I’ve put a coffee table in the kitchen to kneel on which allows me a lot more upright time than I’d otherwise be able to manage. It also annoys everyone else, so they keep out.
Miscellaneous. These newfangled fibreglass casts are terrific and waterproof and everything, but after you’ve showered they take a little while to drain. These means that if you’re in a hurry and have decided to go with leggings today, they’ll get rather wet while you drag them on. Speaking of showering, you can shave your remaining leg in the shower, but you have to have excellent balance. Or not mind getting a bump on your head. Get yourself industrial strength deodorant because it’s really hard work getting about on crutches, you’ll sweat way more than normal. Don’t be afraid to use your crutches to sweep small boys out of your path or to poke children who are ignoring you. You have to get some fun out of this.
Also, you may want to give your muscles a bit of time to get used to your new mode of transport. If you go hard the first few days you will ache like you’ve been beaten about the shoulders and ribs for days. And try to work up to the hopping, it’s a good way to get around the kitchen while holding trays or boxes of ingredients, but it initially takes a toll. On the plus side I’m hardly snacking at all because it’s such an effort to move anywhere. Heigh ho, heigh ho, only five weeks to go.