Crutch Diary

My friend who has had the broken leg sends this update to her crutch diary:

crutchdessert 001It has been almost 40 days and 40 nights since the bone break. The only excursion out of the flat has been one trip to the hospital for x-rays.

I’m parched.

Forty days with the horizon shrink-wrapped to my skin.

It doesn’t really get easier. I’ve learned all about fractures, including something  called ‘bone fracture anger’. It is good to know that anger and frustration at not being able to do normal things is, well, normal. The occasional mini-melt-down is delicious in its own way.

My former morning routine – getting up, feeding the cats, feeding myself, showering and dressing – used to take about an hour. Now I can’t do all those things in one go. For one, simple tasks that could be done in a few seconds, such as pouring juice, now require a string of staged steps and approximately ten times the amount of time, not to mention energy. I can’t persevere until the jobs are done, because after a few minutes in a vertical position the leg swells and the toes turn colour. I have to stop, sit down and rest with the leg elevated until it normalises. Only after a good rest can I carry on with the next task.

This means that it is not unusual for my morning routine to last until 1 or 2pm. It makes for a very short day.

There is also a fear that too much of the wrong kind of activity can knacker the leg by shifting the bones slightly out of alignment, breaking the still-fragile structure that bridges the gap. A hard cast that fits tightly when initially applied becomes loose as the leg shrinks inside it, so there is wiggle room – it is not true immobilisation. Stories abound of people who dramatically extended the time required for healing, by trying to do too much too soon.

It is obvious that most of my body’s resources are being directed to healing the leg, and not available for other things. Reading all those novels hasn’t been possible. I’ve only done a little reading – too much energy is required.

Of course, absolutely everything about my life has been put on hold. All of the holidays, the cultural and social events that sustain me, all of the things I have been looking forward to, have been removed from my diary. It is as if every event that I wanted to attend has been mysteriously relocated to Japan, leaving absolutely nothing except the Internet and precious visits from people bringing me manna in the desert (and occasionally bringing dessert, as well).

I don’t recommend this as a way to spend a couple of months.

Things that I appreciate are the comfort of my cats,  friends, and the occasional spot of sunshine on the floor.

Hopefully, I will soon be out of this desert and back into the world for a refreshing drink of sunshine.

And possibly some dessert.

A World in Miniature

Here is an update on my friend, who broke her ankle two weeks ago. She tells me her morning routine has changed.

A World in Miniature

The universe has shrunk. It must be a nice day outside, because the living room is bright. Most of the day is experienced with a single view, from the sofa. There are distractions and points of focus, and a few channels to the outside world.

Two weeks after breaking the bone, it still seems important to keep it horizontal as much as possible to promote healing. Some normal simple household tasks are completely impossible, while others can only be done at the expense of too much time spent with the leg vertical. Keep a close eye on the toes, if they start to darken, stop and elevate the leg above the heart until it normalises again. Make sure you don’t put pressure on the cast, or on the leg within the cast.

A dining chair has been moved into the kitchen, so that cooking and washing up can be done sitting down if needed. Eating can be done at the site of food preparation. Getting food from the fridge is quite complicated and difficult, still.

The normal morning routine is exhausting and puts maximum stress on the leg. Doing any additional tasks is a challenge – today moved the allergy medicine from the dresser on one side of the room to the other, so that it is accessible. Took five minutes and a lot of flinging about. Then had to clean up a bit of cat upchucked food – not nasty, it just happens when they eat too fast, but how to bend down and pick it up in a tissue while in the hallway? And how to move it from there to the toilet? I was almost in throwing distance, so practiced my basketball technique – bundle it up as tight as possible in the tissue, aim at toilet, toss, hit the package of loo roll next to the toilet, bundle falls apart, now bits of cat food fallen behind toilet. Ha ha. Defeated me for a few minutes, then I managed with some struggle to retrieve all the pieces and dispose of them. And yet one more additional task outside the routine today…retrieve a clear plastic recycle bag from the shelves on the opposite side of the dining table (table is pushed against those shelves to make enough room for me to walk  around the other way on crutches). Ha ha! Crutches can be used as a tool. Stand on one foot or move a chair into position and use the crutch to knock the roll of bags off the shelf, then pull it towards you. Takes five minutes. Win! Exhausted! Put clean yogurt tubs and takeaway boxes into the bag and leave it in easy reach. Feed cats. Drink leftover coffee from yesterday (clever). Worry about colour of toes, so sit down on sofa without eating anything just yet.

Take a few pictures, because the photo journal exercise is continuing. Write a journal entry – that’s your bit of creative writing for the day. Sit in the centre of a very small universe, as if the horizon has been shrink-wrapped tight to your skin.

Look forward to a visit and cherish the friends who make contact, whether electronically or in person.

Empathise with people who face similar things every day without having an end-date in sight. At the moment, I’m hoping I’m one-third of the way through.


morning routine

My friend who has a fiercely independent spirit and lives alone recently broke her ankle.  Here is her morning routine:

illumination 142

  1. Put the little shoe over the cast and the slipper over the good foot.
  2. Stand up on one leg.
  3. Put on a dressing gown.
  4. Pick up the crutches and walk to the loo.
  5. Do yuu you need to do.
  6. Stand up on one leg.
  7. Pick up the crutches and walk to the kitchen.
  8. Stand on one foot halfway between the sideboard and wine rack.
  9. Put down the crutches where they won’t fall.
  10. Standing on one leg move two cat water dishes and two cat food dishes from sideboard to the wine rack.
  11. Pick up the crutches and walk a  few more steps between the wine rack and kitchen sink.
  12. Put the crutches down where they won’t fall.
  13. Stand on one leg move dishes to counter to the left of the sink.
  14. Pick up crutches and move to front of sink.
  15. Put down crutches where they won’t fall.
  16. Stand on one leg and empty remaining food into the recycle bin next to sink.
  17. Still standing on one leg fill sink with soapy water, wash and dry dishes, fill bottle with water.
  18. Lean against sink as needed.
  19. Still standing on one leg move dishes and bottle to wine rack (this may require picking up crutches, walking a few steps, putting crutches down and standing on one leg again).
  20. Pick up crutches and walk to side board.
  21. Put crutches down where they won’t fall.
  22. Stand on one leg and put dishes in dish holder, pour water into water dishes, move food bag to sideboard, dish out food into food dishes, move food bag back onto kitchen table and move water bottle back to wine rack.
  23. Pick up crutches and walk to kettle.
  24. Put crutches down where they won’t fall.
  25. Stand on one leg and fill kettle with water, put sugar in coffee cup, put filter holder on top of cup, put filter in holder, put coffee in filter.
  26. Lean against the counter to catch breath.
  27. Stand on one leg and put cereal into bowl, pour first batch of hot water over coffee.
  28. Pick up crutches and walk to door to landing (tiny exotic kitchen, no room for fridge so it is on landing).
  29. Stand on one leg and open door, holding crutches in one hand.
  30. Take crutches properly and walk onto landing.
  31. Put crutches down where they won’t fall.
  32. Stand on one leg and open fridge door, move juice and milk bottles to shelf, close fridge door.
  33. Pick up crutches and walk to doorway.
  34. Put down crutches where they won’t fall.
  35. Stand on one leg and lean back against door frame, move juice and milk bottles to kitchen counter.
  36. Pick up crutches and walk a couple of steps out of the door frame.
  37. Hold crutches in one hand, stand on one leg and lean against wall, close and lock door.
  38. Take crutches properly and walk to kitchen counter.
  39. Put down crutches where they won’t fall.
  40. Stand on one leg and pour milk into bowl, juice into Tupperware unbreakable tumbler, move coffee filter holder to sink, stir coffee to mix in the sugar.
  41. Pick up crutches and walk to sink.
  42. Put crutches down where they won’t fall.
  43. Stand on one leg and move coffee, juice and cereal from the right-hand counter to the counter to the left of sink.
  44. Pick up crutches and walk to wine rack.
  45. Put down crutches where they won’t fall.
  46. Stand on one leg and move coffee, juice, cereal from wine rack to table.
  47. Pick up crutches and walk to table.
  48. Put down crutches where they won’t fall.
  49. Sit in chair and arrange food in front of yourself, keeping cats out of the milk.
  50. Arrange the cast so the leg is supported by another chair and yet you can still reach the food.
  51. Catch your breath.
  52. Eat.
  53. Reverse the steps to transfer dishes from table to wine rack to sink (water bottle, too), stand on one leg to wash dishes, leave dishes in rack for next time.
  54. Pick up crutches and walk to living room.
  55. Arrange self on sofa, elevate leg, check for swelling and discoloration.
  56. Stay put as long as possible.

Let’s all be grateful for what we have and not take things for granted. Let’s all appreciate the difficulties that others may have. Let’s all be thankful for our friends. Indeed!