What does the last of the housewives do?

Tag: Crutches

Back on my Feet

Many of you will know I have just gone through the fairly minor, in the scheme of things, inconvenience of having my foot in plaster for six weeks and therefore having to get about on crutches. Goodness me it’s been an interesting six weeks. Here are some of my observations.

The first is that I must have heard from every single person in the Inner West that has ever injured themselves on the lower leg. Or knows someone who has. If I ever see anyone on crutches, no matter how curious I am, I shall just mutter “tough luck” at them and move on. I have in the past had a giant neck wound, jaw to collarbone, and had no one say a word, just a horrified flick of the eyes. But someone on crutches seems to be just holding a sign saying “I’m not moving fast, so tell me all about how much better European crutches are, how long it is since your knee reconstruction, what a dangerous sport rugby seems to be, how terrific online supermarket shopping is these days (it isn’t), and how exactly your grandmother fell down the stairs”. It didn’t bother me too much, besides the unwanted human contact (character building), but I found it to be a fascinating insight into sociology. I guess because it doesn’t look life threatening and in general people want to connect, so that’s nice. I just wish the explanation of my injury could fit into one sentence, or could be printed on a small card.

My blog has come up as a suggestion for someone asking the question “how do you shower with your leg in plaster?” and the answer is that you do it on one leg. Try it some time, it’s a lot harder than it sounds. It’s also the answer to “how do you cook dinner”, “how do you use stairs”, “how do you feed the cat” and “how do you get the kids out of bed” with your foot in plaster. Actually, stairs are the worst. I can now hop down them, but the only way to get up them with your foot in plaster is on your hands and knees. It’s quite a spectacle. Also, feeding the cat on one leg results in a cat with rather a lot of kangaroo meat on his head. He didn’t seem to mind. I’m sure the kids will be relieved to be woken up with the traditional pat on the head rather than crutches to the solar plexus from now on.

The thing I have missed the most this last six weeks is being able to carry things. Any good housewife will tell you that you don’t walk anywhere in the house without something in your hand, clothes to put in the wash, rubbish, a bottle of water to tip on the head of your barking dog. There has been none of that. Anytime I wanted to fetch something I’d have to do it with a handbag around my neck, which doesn’t work for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, let me tell you. The biggest impact was that I wasn’t able to put on a wash. So I’ve had to put up with no separated washes and everything going in the dryer – it seemed to be enough of a strain on everybody to have to deal with this daily task without me shouting at them that they weren’t doing it right. The first thing I did when I tottered home from the sports doctor with my freed foot was to get myself a takeaway coffee and put on a dark wash, which is now hanging in the sunlight. I may even go soak some tea towels in Napisan in a moment.

It is going to be a bit of an effort not to get out and rejoice in the return of my foot, but I’ve used up my physio on my health insurance for the year, so I’d better take it easy. There is a noticeable difference in the sizes of my calves, but the doctor assures me that will return to normal fairly quickly, especially as I won’t be hopping any more. I think I shall go and hunt for all of my right shoes, that shouldn’t be too taxing.



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.

And I Thought the Boot was Bad

You thought you’d be reading more about the Thermomix today didn’t you. I did make a very exciting breakfast in it, but the rush and swirl of my life means that that is yesterday’s news. My friends, capricious Fate, or rather an apologetic young doctor, has put me in plaster from my fuschia toenails to my knobbly knee. Yes, it’s the skiing injury still. Apparently my foot has decided to cope with its ongoing inflammation by putting a great deal of pressure on the bone at the top of my arch, resulting in the precursor to a stress fracture. The only treatment is to immobilise the foot completely and it isn’t even allowed to touch the ground. Which means I’m on crutches for six weeks.

I can drive. It’s a waterproof cast, so I can shower standing on one leg, and I can swim. That will be interesting, but it’s the only exercise option left to me apart from lifting weights. Although having been on crutches now for three hours, the no exercise might not be such a problem, it’s quite exhausting using crutches, even more so if you decide bugger it, I’m hopping. I’m going to end up with a giant left buttock. I can feel it developing already.

The first crushing realisation was that I’m not going to be able to get a takeaway coffee for six weeks, because I won’t have any hands free. I suppose being forced to sit at a cafe isn’t so bad. Then, how am I going to hang out the washing? The girls at the cafe helpfully pointed out that I could put the wet washing in a bag and sling it over my back, so that’s sorted. Shopping will be problematic. I’m pretty sure if I can find a park up on Ramsay Street, Frank will take my fruit to the car, and perhaps I can wait until the kids get home to unload it. I am not not not going to use Coles Online because they suck more than I can bear to think about. I used to use them when the Horror was little and not fit for public consumption, and they’d always bring me stuff that was close to or at expiry, and the order was never complete.

I can cook, so that’s a relief. I had already organised my baking corner so that almost everything is to hand and if I hop over and open the oven first, getting a baking tray in there only requires one hop. I have the oven door open right now letting some biscotti cool down before I attempt to hop anywhere with it. My husband had put in an order for five days worth of morning tea, because he’ll be away all next week reorganising the Army, and the Army vastly prefer my baking to the officially endorsed Arnotts Assorted Creams. I’d hate to let down the Army.

Yes, that’s right, I’m on my own all next week. That means my dear children will have to make themselves very useful indeed or risk getting poked with the crutches. By the time the husband gets back I should have developed some upper back and buttock musculature, some coping mechanisms that don’t involve too much alcohol and should be complaining less so it’s probably best for our marriage that he’s away.

Of course the hardest thing will be accepting help. I had to start almost before the plaster was dry, because my car was parked down a set of stairs from my doctor. A very kind lady offered to take my handbag and crutches while I swung myself down the stairs by the banisters and it really was a lot quicker than doing it myself. My first instinct is to bark “I’m fine!”, but I’m not. Hopefully I will be soon, the plaster is due to come off the Friday before the Verdi at the Town Hall, of which more later, and hopefully all my bits will be behaving themselves and will be allowed to be free.

And look! It’s denim blue! I have a bit of an urge to bedazzle it.