Due to today’s electoral misadventure, I find myself with my ankle in a cast (to be replaced tomorrow with an air cast) and crutches.
I would like to know if anyone had any tips and tricks for daily life considering that I cannot presently stand unassisted for long periods of time, walk long distances, flex my foot, or carry anything while moving.
Argh, I’m on crutches at least once or twice a year due to an extraordinarily weak ankle. Nothing’s easy, is it? I don’t know about you, but it makes me want to scream.
You’ve already received some very good advice.
If you’re squicked about indoor stairs, throw your dignity out the window and scootch up/down on your butt. You can hold the crutches with one hand (watch anything on the walls) and use the other to “boost” yourself up/down the next step. I’ve been doing this since day one and it’s a hell of a lot easier I wouldn’t advise doing it in public, though – in that case, wait for an elevator or take the escalator.
I wash my hair in the sink by half-kneeling on a kitchen chair. It’s sort of tricky to get off the chair by yourself, but it can be done. Take sponge baths rather than regular baths. Showering is off limits, of course.
Make sure to prop up your ankle when you’re in bed. I use 2-3 not-so-soft pillows from the living room couch so there’s some support. If you don’t already sleep on your back, it’s a bitch to get used to, but your ankle will be grateful the next morning.
Other than that, it’s a matter of hobbling/hopping along. Learn to look helpless in public, and people will hold open doors, etc., for you. If someone’s driving you somewhere, you’ll be more comfortable stretched out in the back. Stay away from anything slippery or steep.
Here’s some advice from someone who’s had three knee operations.
Make sure your crutches do not come all the way up to your arm pits when you use them. The pads at the top are not meant to prop you up when you use them, but are designed to be pinched between the inside of your upper arms and your body.
If the crutches are so tall that they butt up against your under arms, you will regret it.
Also, when you “graduate” to a cane, use it in the hand **opposite **of your lame leg/foot. Sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s the proper way to use a cane.
Also, be VERY careful in parking lots, garages, etc. - oil and crutches do not mix! Not that I would know. Nope. That was some other klutz. In the hospital parking lot, no less. Glad it wasn’t me. [sub]OK, it might have been me. Maybe. 100%[/sub]
Get yourself a fanny pack (but wear it in the front, as a tummy pack). I know, all of the fashion gurus put it at the top of the “don’t” list, but it was a godsend to me. You can use it to carry stuff you need during the day, or even just for getting stuff from room to room.
Depending on the height of your cast, it’s possible to go up stairs on your knees. I found that worked better than the butt method for me.
I washed my hair in the kitchen sink by putting the knee of the bad leg on a kitchen chair and standing on the other leg. I also brushed my teeth in the kitchen sink, since it worked better for me than the bathroom, where I couldn’t use the chair method because of space limitations.
Welcome to the club! I’m going to my six week doctors visit in 15 minutes. I broke my leg at the knee on 25 Nov, and had knee surgery on 6 Dec. I’m hopefully getting the brace off today.
Anyway, crutches are exhausting. Walk slowly, and keep the leg swing to a minimum or you’ll throw off your balance. I’m not sure about your bathing, but I have one of those removable massage heads on my shower, and found that standing over the tub and using that was the easiest way to wash my hair. Get a backpack or a shoulder bag, or you won’t be able to carry anything. Door suck. There is no easy way to open one when you have crutches.
Ask for help. Plan to take longer to do everything, and good luck.
darn, I was coming to say “get a backpack”! so i guess i’ll just second it. much more useful than a fannypack.
at home, i had no compunctions whatever about going up stairs on my hands and knees. you can drag the crutches with one hand alongside. much easier and faster than trying to do the balance-and-hop going up.
and yes, pillow-propping at every prone opportunity. helps keep the fluids from collecting in your foot area.
Sorry to hear about the ankle. I fractured my ankle a couple years ago, so I know your pain. First some pointers:
You will quickly find just how taxing using crutches is - especially your triceps. If you’re like me, you’ll wear them out to the point where they’ll cramp (further pissing you off). But once you work through that stage, it will actually get better. Perhaps the only side benefit to crutches is that after your term, you will have great triceps and shoulders.
Backpack. Simply don’t try to carry anything. Your hands need to be on the crutches. Period.
Velcro and carabiner. There are small things that you’ll want to carry. And after a while, you’ll get tired of hauling these things around in your mouth. I found that strapping a velcro strap to one of the crutches, and using a carabiner on the strap handled a lot of small things.
They sell these small (specially for this purpose) chairs for the bathtub. They’re narrower and have a small seat. Highly recommended. I’m a shower person, and since I could take off the brace (but not apply any weight), I started out standing on the one leg. And it gets excruciating. Sitting in the shower is the way to go.
While we’re on the subject of sitting, provided you can still drive (I found I could drive with the brace, if you can believe it. Took some getting used to, but I managed), you know those electric carts at the grocery store ? Use them - liberally. And the bagboys will be more than happy to help you load your car (and return the cart).
Again, if you can drive, DEFINITELY get a handicapped parking tag. Just crutch your way to your DMV and they’ll issue one (there is even a handicapped desk at my local DMV so no waiting in line either). Worth it’s weight in gold ! Even if you can’t drive, get one for whoever will be driving you around (the ones here in CA are portable - you hang them on your rearview mirror).
Spring loaded doors are evil. Most people are kind enough to open doors for you (and believe me, after your experience, you will go out of your way to open doors for people on crutches in the future), so take advantage of it.
Stairs are doable, but going up is MUCH easier than going down. Go slow, take it step at a time and (on the downside) don’t lean too far forward ! Practice.
That’s about all I can think of off the top of my head.
Now the bad news. After all the time in the cast/brace, all the soft tissue in your ankle will have cinched up. It will reuire a good amount of physical therapy to get the use of your foot back. You will be able to walk reasonably quickly, but the full range of motion, and particularly the balancing part will take a while. So just be prepared for some PT once you get out of the brace.
Thanks for the advice, folks! There are a few things I’m figuring out for myself too, especially concerning stairs (cast back going up, forward going down; crutch feet should be at the same step or below the good foot both directions).
Been there, done that, got the t-shirt - and it was not fun, and took the better part of a year. A couple of tips:
– Crutch handgrips get icky after you’ve sweated on them long enough. Mom’s genius solution: cotton bike handlebar tape. Much more confortable.
– There are cool little spike gadgets that screw onto the end of crutches, that you can flip down and use on snow and ice. I can’t remember what the darn things are called (it’s been 9 years, thankfully), but your doc may know what I’m talking about. They should be quite handy for a Canadian winter.
– If this is going to drag out, and you are having a hard time doing things around the house and/or getting people to help you, 2 gadgets that I found indispensable were a) a Velcro pouch that attached to the crutch handle, which allowed me to carry a travel mug, which meant that even if I lived alone, I could get myself a glass of water; and b) a walker with a basket on the front. (But then I was probably more wobbly than you are now, at least in the beginning - I’d had 4 hours of hardcore ortho surgery involving internal and external hardware installation.) If you want to shell out a few bucks, though, it might make life easier around the house. The basket was very handy for carrying things from one room to the next.
Once you get some practice, you’ll be amazed what you can learn to do on one foot. Plus just think of the killer arm muscles you’ll develop! If you have specific questions, please post again - I spent large chunks of 3 years after that accident on crutches, all of it living alone, so I’ve got a fair bit of coping experience.