A healthy respect for those who need mobility assistance
Published on March 6, 2023 at 1:47pm CST
By John R. Stone
I have developed and much larger appreciation for what people who have handicaps have to deal with on a daily basis.
So far my experience is a short few weeks, its not over, but there is an end in sight. Back in January I ruptured my Achilles tendon on my right foot. The Achilles is something most of us don’t think about much as long as it works. It’s the big tendon you feel just above your heel on the rear of your foot that connects your powerful calf muscles to your heel. It helps you stand up on your toes, push off with each walking step which is really handy going up stairs or walking up hill.
Because it is a tendon there is little blood flow so the cure takes time, lots of time. It can be 6 months or more of first very limited duty then gradual increase in mobility. I’ve been told to expect around six months.
I had surgery here at Glacial Ridge Hospital and the first two weeks my foot was in a splint. The splint is a stiff plastic device that keeps my ankle from bending. But it is not perfect in protecting the foot so I cannot put any weight on that foot. (They use a splint first because a person has to be able to check and make sure the surgical wound heals.)
The splint means crutches. If you grab a set of crutches and take a few steps it doesn’t seem like a big deal. Using them all day long doing a variety of things while being aware that if you do something wrong you could have go to back to square one is stressful.
The thing about crutches I had never thought about is that normally simple things become complicated. Feeding oneself, going to the bathroom, taking a shower, grabbing things out of a drawer and many others are now things you have to think out first.
For example, getting my cereal in the morning is more complicated. I get a bowl and spoon out of a cupboard and drawer on one side of the kitchen. It is 7 feet across the kitchen to the cupboard where the cereal is. From that position I can also open the fridge and get milk for the cereal.
But I can’t carry a bowl and spoon with crutches. So I move the bowl and spoon to the center island, take a step or two with the crutches, move the bowl to the stovetop near the fridge where I can get cereal and some milk. Then I slide that down the counter to where I normally eat breakfast.
I’ll skip the maneuvers for the bathroom and shower (lucky you) although I have found out that the shower chair we kept when my mother died seven years ago has been extremely helpful. That and the Tom’s Market plastic bags that I put over the splint and then seal to my leg with duct tape so my repaired foot doesn’t get wet work well.
Following surgery, which is an outpatient procedure, I went home and stayed put for a week and a half. I’ve never stayed inside this or any house that long! Ever. Boy was that different! But I didn’t dare risk falling.
I can get downstairs to my office easily although when I mentioned that to the folks in the hospital after surgery they were in a state of panic at first. It’s easy, I sit down at the top of the stairs and slide down one step at a time. It is easy to control everything since most of my weight is close to the ground. I do the reverse coming back up.
I have to give a shout out to Mary. She’s put up with the extra errands she has to do that I can’t for a while. And its stupid stuff like carrying a glass of water to my chair since I can’t, getting the newspaper from the curb, getting the mail etc.
I’m told I can go back to a boot soon if things are going well. That might last for a while, but I won’t need crutches!
I have always said that a person can learn something new every day. I’ve learned plenty the past few weeks! But the biggest thing I have learned is a very healthy respect for those who have to deal with crutches, wheel chairs and other mobility assists. That makes life much harder. Especially in Minnesota in the winter.