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Subject: The things you probably don't realize about crutches: rss

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You can't carry anything while you're on them. I mean, it makes sense when it's said aloud, but it's not one of those things you think about until you're up close and personal with them, whether you're on them or know someone who is. For several years now, I've followed a routine of getting a soda on the way into work, from either a fast food joint or a convenience store, and now I can't do that, because I don't have a way to carry the drink back to my car. I also have a hard time transporting anything larger than about a paperback book, since if it doesn't fit in either a shirt pocket or a pants pocket, it ain't going anywhere with me.

I have started carrying a backpack with me to work. It allows me to carry a handful of things that I'll need throughout the day (my iPad, a book, my lunch, etc.), and it doesn't overbalance me on the crutches. The good news is that I've only lost my balance and fallen on them once, but that was because I was trying to turn around in our rather small bathroom where the door opens inward. Luckily I was able to catch myself on the edge of the tub as I went down (honestly, it wasn't as painful as it sounds), but I did manage to pull the tension rod and the shower curtain down with me.

I also get the feeling that my right leg (the one that isn't injured) is going to wind up being all muscular and cut, while the left one is going to look like a wimpy little matchstick. I also think that it's a damn good thing that I already have good upper body strength, because otherwise this would be a lot harder than it already is.

Why am I on crutches, you ask? Because I'm an idiot, that's why. This past Saturday, my wife and I were working on getting ready for a future garage sale, and as I was waiting for her to finish up something so we could move a larger piece, I got bored and started goofing off. I took a funny tumble, landed hard on my left foot, and suffered what's called a Lisfranc fracture (and the X-ray on that page looks exactly like the one the doctor showed me). I won't go through the initial reaction to the injury, but let's just say that it took a lot of willpower not to hurl my guts up after the nausea hit me.

I had to go to an orthopedist on Monday, which is where I learned the details of the injury. The worst part of it was that in order to confirm that it was an unstable break that required surgery, he had to wrench my foot into the most painful position for said injury while holding it under an X-ray. I remember cussing during this time, but I didn't apologize for it.

Tomorrow I go in for surgery to place the tendon back onto the bone, and then I have about two more months on the crutches. After that, I have another month wearing a boot (I've been wearing one since Saturday, and I swear this thing gets heavier every day), and then after that I have to wear an insert in my shoe for another month. The literature suggests that it can take between six months to a year to fully recover from the injury.

The "accident" (which is still a generous term to use, since it was completely preventable) has had a cascading effect on our lives. I can't help prepare for the garage sale now, but we still have to have it, since we have boxes and boxes of stuff all over the house that we don't want to have to put back in the closets. I can drive, thankfully (it was my left foot, and my car's an automatic), but for the two weeks after the surgery, I won't be able to because I have to keep my foot elevated as much as possible. I also just started a new job (at the hospital system, ironically), and have very limited time to take, and what I have to take for recovery will affect what I can take for vacation at the end of the year. It's also nearly impossible for me to do even the simplest chores, which means that the burden of the housekeeping will fall to my wife, and she has to get things for me that I can't carry on the crutches. She's been a real trooper about it, but I hesitate to ask her for things because I don't want to be a burden. Plus, there's the whole guilt thing with knowing that it's my fault that it happened.

The good news is that I'm not in any considerable pain, but I don't know if that will change after the surgery, since I've never had any major surgery done before. I'm nervous about it (I hate being put under, but certainly prefer that to the alternative), but only because I don't like uncertainty. But after tomorrow, I'll know what to deal with, I guess.

Le sigh.
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Hammock Backpacker
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Get well soon! I had a friend who had a similar injury TWICE in two years and because he didn't stay off it long enough, it took forever to heal. Stay down, heal well. Good vibes coming to you AND your wife.



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I'm pretty sure you got injured fighting ninjas. Lots of ninjas.

And you won.

Then hobbled away from an exploding helicopter and totally didn't look back at the explosion.

Wishing you a speedy recovery so those damned ninjas don't get to cocky.
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Meg Kline
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Ouch! Sorry you're injured. I assume you've got underarm crutches at the moment? I ask because with the length you're going to be on crutches, plus the surgery, you may find forearm crutches more practical/comfortable. You can get them for about $20-30 at drugstores or medical supply places (including those online).

Forearm crutches have a cuff and a handle... which makes it sound like your hands would be less free, but that's not the case. Since the cuff and the handle both keep the crutch on your arm, you can grip the handle quite far forward (with the outside edge of your palm) and have most of your hands free for carrying things. They also make that very last stage of recovery a bit easier because you can walk around without actually using the crutches but with the cuffs around your arms, knowing that if you get tired or have sudden pain, the crutches are right there - no need to have someone pass them to you on short notice and then try to arrange them while still standing.

If you're already using forearm crutches and you haven't figured out the knack of using them hands mostly-free yet, be assured that it comes with practice! But with underarm crutches, yeah, they're awkward, bulky, difficult to use, very difficult to be independent on, and tend to cause nerve fatigue... but they're cheaper for doctors and hospitals to buy in large quantities, which is why injured folks tend to get lumbered with 'em.

I'm a lifelong crutch and wheelchair user (cerebral palsy), and my father built wheelchairs, so I've seen just about every kind of crutch out there due to my being used as free advertising at expos. And honestly, I've never met a person who preferred underarm crutches to forearm ones. I'm sure such people exist, but in most cases, forearm crutches are just infinitely more practical. If you're thinking of getting a pair (and don't have some already), I strongly recommend going to a brick and mortar store (a drug store if your budget's tight, a medical supply place if you're willing to spend $10-20 more for a better product) and doing some try before you buy... some models are more comfortable than others, and the only way to figure out what'll be most comfortable for you is to experiment a little.

Good luck with the surgery - orthopedic surgery is no fun at *all* (unless yours goes drastically different than any of mine, yes, you will be in considerable pain for a while after... but you'll have good pain meds, so try not to stress over that part), but the good part about it is the recovery tends to go more quickly than it first feels like it will.

Just don't do the kinds of stupid stuff I'm known for, e.g. trying to get up from the floor by putting weight on my 2-weeks-out-of-surgery, casted, held-together-with-pins foot! (And yes, I was plenty old enough and experienced enough with orthopedic surgery to know better... just a moment of garden variety dumb. Even us lifelong gimps have 'em.)

Btw, I mention the pain not to freak you out, but because I'm the kind of person who would much rather know what's ahead than have someone fib to me about it to make me feel better... so if I've freaked you out instead, I apologize! The good news is, the post surgical pain won't be nearly as bad as the pain you had when you injured it. After the first day or two (which you'll have drugs for), it settles into an annoying dull throb (which you'll still have drugs for, if your surgeon is a good one). You may or may not have muscle spasms in that foot in the immediate aftermath of surgery (especially common when they've been messing with the tendons) - those are the worst part, but they generally stop within a day or two. Ask for muscle relaxers if necessary - they'll be available for the taking, but the staff/docs usually expect you to specifically mention it if what you're experiencing is a spasm as opposed to more generalized muscle or bone pain.

Good luck!
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Gregory Amstutz
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I spent 6 weeks last summer in a cast to treat plantar fasciitis. During that time, I had to go to work, and had to walk up and down 17 stairs every day on crutches - and my cast wasn't a walking cast, so I couldn't bear any weight on it. I feel your pain, Bro, and I wish you the speediest of recoveries, and no stairs.


BTW, I'm convinced that crutches have been derived from some sort of medieval torture device - maybe from the Spanish Inquisition?
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Quinn Munnerlyn
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http://www.medexsupply.com/mobility-crutches-accessories-rep...
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maccaj6565 wrote:
Ouch! Sorry you're injured. I assume you've got underarm crutches at the moment? I ask because with the length you're going to be on crutches, plus the surgery, you may find forearm crutches more practical/comfortable. You can get them for about $20-30 at drugstores or medical supply places (including those online).

I've looked at those, but a friend of mine swears that Hope Crutches are the way to go. They're a lot more expensive, but they're designed to support the weight on the back and shoulders instead of on your arm. Have you had any experience with those?

Quote:
Btw, I mention the pain not to freak you out, but because I'm the kind of person who would much rather know what's ahead than have someone fib to me about it to make me feel better... so if I've freaked you out instead, I apologize!

No, no worries. As I mentioned, I don't like uncertainty, and I usually tell nurses and doctors that if I shot or procedure is going to hurt, then tell me, because I can bear through it better if it's expected. So that's been a big help.

Thanks!
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Lothartvni wrote:

This just proves something I've always thought: If I have a clever idea for an invention, chances are, someone else has already beaten me to it.
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Here you go, old fella. devil

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Make yours out of black leather with chrome studs and call them saddlebags. Yours will sell better than these.
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MWChapel wrote:

Those are for folks who can put weight on both feet. I currently don't qualify.




And no, my sarcasm detector isn't broken. Just thought I'd point that out about the walkers.
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'nuff said.

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DKahnt wrote:
HooveRound.

I used to see a bunch of commercials for these motorized wheelchairs that were called "Little Rascal"s, and I once mistakenly called them "Lil' Bastard"s. This will forever be what my wife and I call them.
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Having been on crutches twice,I know exactly what you mean about the annoyance of not being able to carry things.
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Verkisto wrote:
I've looked at those, but a friend of mine swears that Hope Crutches are the way to go. They're a lot more expensive, but they're designed to support the weight on the back and shoulders instead of on your arm. Have you had any experience with those?


I have! I personally found carrying things while using them equally as difficult-to-impossible as with standard underarm crutches, and they didn't provide me with anywhere near enough support - but keep in mind, my balance is crap on a good day (I walk like a drunk, essentially), so just because they don't work for me doesn't mean they won't for you.

I would consider Hope Crutches a *definite* try before you buy, though, both due to the price and because the design won't entirely eliminate the more long term problem of having nerve pain from where the crutches rest under your arms. (They do hit you in a different spot than standard under arm crutches, but for *me*, it wasn't different *enough*.) Not everyone has nerve pain from underarm crutches, but the longer you have to use them, the more likely it is to happen.

All of that said, they may work *great* for you, so they're worth trying. If you've got the kind of budget to even consider something at that price point, though, hie thee to a medical supply place as soon as is practicably possible and try as many kinds as you can get your hands on... it may save you a good amount of money, and it will definitely pay off comfort-wise over the next few months.

Just as a point of order, so to speak; if you have forearm crutches that fit properly, the weight is pretty evenly distributed - a lot of people, even lifelong crutch users, set their forearm crutches way too low, and then the weight *is* all on your arms (and worse, your wrists). The handles should be more or less even with your hips *when you set the crutches out in front of you to move forward* (so in other words, slightly above your hips if you're standing still) with incremental adjustments from there depending on what's comfortable, your armspan, whether you're swinging or walking between them, etc. That goes for the Hope crutches too, for that matter - if the handle's set too low, *any* set of crutches is deeply uncomfortable and puts a lot of strain on the body. When you're trying crutches out, it's usually better to set them a little higher than you think you might need and work down from there till you find your sweet spot... the insidious thing about starting them a little low and adjusting them up is that too low often feels fine... until the day it doesn't because your muscles have cried uncle.

Quote:
As I mentioned, I don't like uncertainty, and I usually tell nurses and doctors that if I shot or procedure is going to hurt, then tell me, because I can bear through it better if it's expected. So that's been a big help.Thanks!


I figured as much, but I always worry about lack of vocal inflection/body language etc in these kinds of discussions, and I've had people ask me point blank about what to expect with this or that surgery and then be really upset when I obliged, lol. (If you need some schadenfreude and/or some "at least it's not *that*" during your recovery, google "selective dorsal rhizotomy"... I'll leave what it was like to be the 7th in the world they did that to, 24 years ago, to your imagination!... and yet I'd do it again. If I had to. Worth it in the end and all that.)

Oh, and re: those crutch pockets... tried 'em 20 years ago, didn't like'em then, don't like 'em now... glad they exist for those who do like'em (and I do know some people who do!). My problem with them was my stuff got banged against the crutches every time I moved forward, and having anything to speak of in the pouches makes the crutches heavy. Not a good thing when you fatigue easily.

Just thought of something else that's so obvious to me (because I've been doing it all my life) that I forgot to mention it to you - I use a waistpack for carrying things that don't need to stay upright (phone, ipod, paperbacks, keys, wallet, money, etc). I've got a rather large one that's very light but sturdy and has 4 pockets... that way I can get to my stuff without twisting around all day long, or taking a backpack on and off. I don't know if that would work better for you than a backpack or not - I do better with any extra weight around my waist than on my back, cause having weight on my back messes with my already precarious center of gravity - but I figured I'd mention it. At the moment my waistpack contains a kindle, a standard paperback, an ipod, my phone, a weekly pill box, all my money and business/bank/medical cards, my keys, a few PNP games, and some other various and sundries and is still almost half empty, to give you an idea of the size. Drinks and food still go in my hands, for obvious reasons!

Glad to be some help/a sounding board, any time you need.
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This thread needs some Thousand Foot Krutch...

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cold_fuzion wrote:

That looks like something that would be awesome, regardless of the need for one! Though I suspect if I used it like that, it would lead to other orthopedic surgeries....
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I hope your wife smacked you around the head you buffoon. shake
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HamsterOfFury wrote:
I hope your wife smacked you around the head you buffoon. shake

Oh, I've been beating myself up enough for the both of us, believe me.
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Flyboy Connor wrote:


I want one! Surely I can trade a spare organ for a jet pack, right? Kidney, liver...

Then again I also covet this:



(It has standing and "sport" mode, leans in the corners and has built in wifi... but it's stuck as a concept vehicle atm)

and this:



Standard mode, standing mode, stair climbing mode, gyroscope based balance system, off road capability.

But I doubt even an organs-for-sexy-mobility-equipment trade would get me close to affording either one, since the iReal isn't currently on the market and the iBot starts at ten grand (used, without extras).

Being bad at the whole biped thing is *expensive*.
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Andy Andersen
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ALERT

I've had 13 surgeries. For an anesthetic, ask the anesthesiologist for PROPOFOL. You got to sleep and wake up with your head clear and no lingering headache, nausea, etc.

It is a miracle drug.

Best of luck.
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I've got two tips for you, regarding your morning soda: one is that you can ask for/bring along a plastic bag (like for groceries) and put the cup into it. Then tie the bag at the top of the soda cup with a simple knot. Then you can sling one of the loops over your crutch pad and gravity will keep it upright. It might take one or two times to get your technique down, but I used it when I was on crutches, and now I use it to hang a drink on my scooter when I pick up lunch at Taco Bell.

My second tip is Fuck Soda. I mean yeah, you already know Fuck Soda, it's horrible for you, blah, blah, blah, so this is no new news. I also know this is rough rock to junk food connoisseurs such as we, but really, G. I was already a big guy before I broke my ankle, and led a pretty damn sedentary lifestyle. But being laid up for three months made it a lot worse; apparently the little bit of movement I was doing made a big difference, 'cos I gained even more weight after the fall, and it's put me in that much worse a place now.

Your injury is a traumatic event that's going to change your life for a while. Take the opportunity to divest yourself of a bad habit and you'll set yourself up for the long run. (Even if you're not gonna be going on any long runs.)

But I'm no scolding schoolmarm; if you wanna stick with the soda, rock the plastic bag hack.
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Orangemoose wrote:
ALERT

I've had 13 surgeries. For an anesthetic, ask the anesthesiologist for PROPOFOL. You got to sleep and wake up with your head clear and no lingering headache, nausea, etc.

It is a miracle drug.

Best of luck.


I wonder if Michael Jackson would agree...
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