5.25.2008,9:01 AM
Crutches manual
During my second bout on crutches* I've honed maneuverability on two sticks. The largest impediment this time is I weigh eight pounds more than I did two and 1/2 years ago which compromises endurance of my wrists and left leg/foot. They are taking a beating.

Regardless, I've learned to improvise and my balance on the left leg is better than ever.
  1. Use end of one stick to push things around such as chairs, carts or varmints, shutting doors, and poking your colleagues.
  2. Extending that, use both ends of sticks like chopsticks, such as moving laundry along the floor to the washing machine. Pick up and roll them along the floor.
  3. Use one stick to aid balance on the good leg, squat and bend down to pick things up from the floor while the useless leg serves as a ballast. I bet the cranes that stand on one leg all the time would approve.
  4. While sitting on a chair with wheels and rolling down the hallway, use the end of one stick to push off the wall for steering. This often puts a grin on my face. I'm fast.
  5. Placing one stick strategically on the ground or floor, it serves as a post to rotate around. This facilitates speed when traversing corners.
  6. Prop the top of one stick on the edge of your chair and under the thigh with the end on the floor and it serves as a temporary shelf to prop the foot and leg up off the floor, reducing swelling.
  7. Carrying items can be an issue when both hands and arms are required for the sticks. Always wear clothes with plenty of pockets. You'd be surprised what you can cram in pockets. But be sure that the waistband will prevent your shorts from being pulled down.
  8. Many lightweight things can be carried in your teeth: paper, small containers with tabs, washcloths, etc. It is appropriate to occasionally shake and growl.
  9. Other items can roll or be pushed along the floor with the ends of the sticks: cans, clothes, shoes, etc. I rolled three cans of fruit on the floor from the pantry to the table when I made cobbler yesterday.
  10. When carrying anything in one hand, technique gets tricky. Prop the rubber support on one stick into the armpit of the arm used to carry, push the stick forward with the side of the hip while balancing on the opposite foot and stick. Then carefully distribute the load of the body on both sticks while stepping forward with the good leg/foot. Be careful not to compress the nerves in the armpit too much.
  11. Getting up from chairs is like doing a genuine one-legged squat. Reduce stress on the knee of the good leg by setting the leg with the knee no less than a 90 degree angle. Position one or both sticks on the floor close to the body and concentrate on using the quads to push up.
  12. Likewise, avoid plopping down when sitting. Use that good leg and the sticks to slowly lower yourself down. Especially when sitting on the toilet.
  13. If you find the handicapped spaces on the train or bus occupied by able-bodied persons, stand firmly in front of them leaning on your crutches and sternly glare at them, making them uncomfortable until they relinquish the seat that is designated for people on crutches, canes or in wheelchairs. It amazes me how many rude people will sit there and ignore you as if you do not exist because they don't want to move.
  14. When transition from using the sticks to using a cane is complete, throw the sticks out into the air, rejoice and do a little dance in your head.
Once this ankle is well healed, I'm back into a weight-lifting and endurance program. The extra weight is coming off and no more excess body baggage. Back on the bike and running, baby. Good as new. Well, as new as I can be.

* The left ankle had a fracture in the fibula with massive connective tissue damage requiring four casts and several months of physical therapy. It remains weak and unstable. Using it now like this has strengthened the leg and ankle, but it can only stand so much.


posted by Macrobe
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