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Crutching Tips

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So you broke your leg...

Okay, so I had promised I would get this up and running a lot sooner than I actually have been able to. Time flies when you are gimping.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. The information included herein is my personal opinion and therefore I am not responsible if something I say results in something bad happening. Use this info as you see fit.

Watch out for electrical cords and rugs. I landed on my butt twice: once when I accidentally wrapped my crutch in a piece of twine and toppled over in my neighbor's garden, and once when I put my crutch down on a t-shirt on the floor. Wheee!

Regarding doors. Look for the Handicapped push plates. If there isn't one, and the door opens outward, open the door and put the crutch in the bottom of the door. Walk through, and then pull your crutch out of the bottom of the door. (Don't leave the rubber stopper). If the door opens inward, push it open a bit, put your crutch in the bottom, walk forward a bit and move the crutch up until you can get through the door.

Stairs. Enough said. For the first while, I went up and down stairs on my butt. Not the most graceful way, but you learn a lot about yourself when you use crutches. The rule of thumb if you are strong enough/coordinated enough to walk them is "bad leg first going down, good leg first going up." have someone spot for you by standing behind you going up and in front of you going down. You can put both crutches under one arm and hop (down is orders of magnitude easier than up).

Use a backpack for everything. Make sure not to put heavy stuff (like a watermelon) in it because it will shift your balance. I also used a fannypack. My labmate gave me a bag with thongs on it that went through the holes in the sides of the crutches. That was very useful.

Check the screws on your crutches every once in a while, and keep an extra nut around just in case.

If there is something you want to do, like go to a festival or something, rent a wheelchair. It cost me $20 for the weekend and I was able to go to Minneapolis' Pride Festival. At that point I was living for it, and it made the difference between a bad and a good week.

Things that made my life easier

A cart with wheels. I live by myself and was able to cook dinner and push it across the room on the cart, although I did manage to push a pizza box and a glass of icewater across the floor with my crutches before I got the cart. I could also put the phone on the cart and move it around.

The aforementioned backpack.

A lucite rod about two feet long for scratching inside my cast. I had a cat toy that had this and it saved my life.

Dishtowels for wrapping around the top of my cast.

A stool for taking showers.

Just general stuff nobody tells you.

Physically, a lot of things happen to you when you break a bone. When I was on crutches, my body went haywire. It's not just the leg that hurts -- your arms, back and shoulders hurt. The other leg hurts. Your hip hurts. Your skin flips out -- callouses on your hands, marks under your arms. They heal. And your body gets stronger FAST. It seems slow, but it is really fast. Also, my digestive system went all wacky because of the pain medications and the fact that I wasn't walking. Just recognize these things. Take meds with food.

You can do a lot of the things you were able to do before. Some obvious things you can't, like driving in some cases. Swimming. Hiking. But there are a lot of things you can do if you want to. I wanted to go to the beach, and I did it. I put my good leg in the water. I had a zillion trash bags on my other leg. But you can do things if you work out new creative ways. And sometimes they make you feel so much better, the aggravation is worth it.

You can get a temporary handicapped tag for whenever you go out. It took a paper from my Dr. and $5.

The first week, I cried about every day, over something. There are emotional as well as physical ramifications of being injured, and often people forget to tell you that they are going to happen. When you add to that the notion that your independence is sorely compromised, it can be a serious downer. Take care of yourself, sleep, eat lots of good stuff, and ask your friends for help.

Ask people for help when you need it. Do nice things for yourself. Read. Rent movies. Surf the net. Make a web page for others who have broken legs...

Great Things I Have Heard Regarding my Leg,in no order

"then you deserved it" (in response to telling people I broke my leg while inline skating). I think we should make up a list of top response to that one!

"been limping long?"

"gosh, that must suck"

"bet that's hot"

"how'd you do it"

"bet you aren't doing that again"

I'll put some of the great stories in here when I get a chance; the one about the homeless guy, the one about the sig other who bailed, the one about the Dr. who had to cast my leg twice, the one about getting my underwear off my cast with a knife while balancing naked on a chair in my kitchen...sounds like a great parlor trick, right?


A big big thank you to all my friends who helped me: Jodi, my personal driver and all around emotional support person, and her son Sol who gave me baby love when I really needed it. Jill, my garden buddy, who also was on crutches (in the winter in Minnesota, no less) and gave me much of the advice that I'm passing on here -- Jill also took wonderful care of our garden with the help of Andrew the waterman extraordinaire. Heather and all the people at Minneapolis' GLBT Pride Festival who helped me. All my friends who took me places, did my laundry, cooked for me, and listened to my whining, ranting and raving.

email me with your stories, comments, etc.

Remember, women with limps, women on crutches, women with casts are sexy. So there!

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