You will be in an altered state for many moons...

If your Achilles tendon is ruptured, torn, or even simply inflamed with tendonitis, your life is about to change. Mine sure has - so I decided to chronicle these events, and create a place for others to share their experiences, advice, resources and emotions during our journey toward recovery.

Nothing in this blog is meant to take the place of the medical advice of your physician. Follow the instructions of your medical professionals, not me.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

7. Crutches - tools of Satan

Crutches - can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em.  They're a necessary evil, and they can be your key to mobility, or your doorway into the pit of hell, aka your floor with your face planted in it.

I suggest that when your doctor schedules you for surgery, you ask him/her to go ahead and issue you a set of crutches, to practice with BEFORE you come home woozy from drugs and in pain.

I got the lightweight metal ones that fit under your arm pits.  Nothing fancy.  If someone else has tried other styles that work better, post the info. 

Anyway, crutches are adjustable, and you should adjust them so that the armrest is about six inches below your armpit when you place your hand on the handle, allowing your arm to be slightly bent. 

Do not get in the habit of leaning into the crutches on your armpits.  You will regret that quickly!  Start immediately training yourself to stand with your arms straight, resting your weight on the HANDLES rather than the armrest.  Don't worry - the handrests will hold your weight.  The doctor will fit you with crutches that are built for your height and weight.  They feel lightweight but they're very strong.

I think women are at a disadvantage when it comes to walking with crutches, because generally speaking, we have more lower body strength and less upper body strength.  With one leg completely out of commission, and basically dead weight, the burden falls on our one good leg and our arms and shoulders.  This means that our healthy leg and foot will tire very quickly. 

Don't plan on getting out and about much with these things at first or you're likely to realize quickly you're in over your head.

When you prop your crutches next to your chair, try propping them up on the armrests rather than the ends - they won't tip over easily that way. 

When you get ready to sit down, transfer both crutches to the side your cast is on.  Reach out behind you and steady yourself on the chair with your other hand.  Be CERTAIN that the chair is stable before lowering yourself.

When you start to get up, hold both crutches by the handrests on your cast side with one hand, and the chair with the other hand.  Don't rush ANYTHING. 

Trust me when I say that you cannot put any weight on that foot at first, not even a tiny bit to balance yourself.  GO SLOWLY.

When you swing yourself forward to start walking, take it easy.  You're not in a marathon!  Don't swing out beyond the ends of the crutches.  Place your good foot squarely between the two crutches instead of in front of them.  You may move a little slower, but you'll be more balanced.

By the way, don't try the "hop on one foot" thing - anywhere.  It's too easy to forget, and put that gimpy foot down to steady yourself.  Don't risk a more serious injury just because you're tired of grabbing those crutches.

Embrace the suck!

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