Lessons learned while on crutches with kids
The absolute freedom of it. I went back to the office today. While there I walked unaided – and only needed to stop to rest my leg one or two times. It is such a relief.
I am not sorry to see the crutches go. I think being on crutches is difficult at any time in your life but with young kids to look after it’s a nightmare. I learned a few things during my recovery time though.
1. Walking with crutches looks much easier than it is.
It is bloody hard to walk using crutches. You may start with just a sore leg, but after walking for the day using crutches, everything will hurt. (Note this may just be a testament to how incredibly unfit I am.) My arms, my hands, my chest, my good leg. Ouch. Things got better in the second week when I could weight bear a little with the sore leg, but that first week when I was hopping with the aid of the crutches was a nightmare. As an addendum to this point, I’d like to mention that if anyone criticises how slow you are on crutches, the quickest way to shut them up is to take a seat and ask them to demonstrate how fast they can move. Just saying. They’ll soon change their tune.
2. Carrying anything while on crutches requires planning.
I am addicted to tea. If I go more than a few hours without a cup, I start to get antsy. So my first day home alone resting with my foot up, it wasn’t long before I realised I had a problem. It’s not possible to carry a cup of tea while hopping with a pair of crutches. The solution was a travel mug and a cardigan with pockets. Make my tea, seal the travel mug, pop the mug in my pocket, and away I went.
3. Cycling gloves are a great investment.
Lots of people tape padding around the handle of each crutch to protect their hands. I read a tip online that cycling gloves work really well instead so I sent Charlie off to Halfords for a pair of fingerless cycling gloves. The in-built padding across the palm of these gloves makes it much easier to use your crutches. Plus they keep your hands warm.
4. Start thinking about the things you CAN do.
It’s easy to wallow when you find yourself in pain and dependent on others and certainly there are lots of things you can’t do. Top of my list was driving. That was all I thought about for the first hour or so. How would I get to work? What would I do? But as the day wore on the other implications started to hit me. I couldn’t pick up my toddler. Couldn’t carry a basket of laundry from one room to the next, never mind upstairs or down. Couldn’t do the shopping. Couldn’t lift my child into bed. Couldn’t take the kids over to the playground. Couldn’t… It seemed an endless list. I would be useless at home. And during his busiest time of year at work, my husband would have to pick up the slack. But I soon found things I could do. I could do all the bedtime stories. I could occupy the kids with board games, jigsaws, or games on the iPad. I could help with homework. I could stand at the kitchen counter with my knee resting on a stool and prepare dinner. As long as I didn’t have to carry anything! Likewise I could wash and dry dishes. It didn’t quite make up for not being able to help at night when the toddler woke up. But I felt better that I could do something.
5. Accept help and hire help.
Early on we decided to use some of the money saved on petrol from not commuting for a month to hire a cleaner to come in once a week to take care of the bathrooms, the kitchen, and the floors. A great decision if I do say so myself and money well spent. Having those jobs done just took the pressure off.
I also had to admit to myself that if I was to follow medical advice and actually rest to speed up my recovery, I would need to accept help when offered and not try my usual tactic of having to prove I can do it all myself. So when someone offered me a lift, I accepted, when someone offered help with the kids, I accepted. And it was liberating. I appreciated the help, and what do you know, the doctor was right – resting did speed up my recovery. Right now I’m about two weeks ahead of where I expected to be in terms of regaining mobility.