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Gee, that’s swell! July 25, 2006

Posted by ouchmyleg in Personal Experience, Resources.
690 comments

Before you break your ankle, I guarantee you that you have no idea of the amount of fluid and swelling your body is capable of generating. For the first few weeks my ankle inflated to Star Jones (pre-stomach stapling, of course) proportions, swollen and bruised to the point where I wasn’t sure it was my own foot. Elevation (above the heart) and ice packs are the best remedy to reduce swelling, but even they don’t really seem to do much for the first while. Now that it’s been two months since my accident, I’m very aware of the triggers that cause swelling and how to manage it. The primary causes are (in order)

  • Gravity (keeping the ankle vertical for too long or extended periods of hobbling)
  • Exhaustion or sleepiness
  • Exertion (doing my flex and release strengthening exercises)

On Friday, my swelling was as bad as it’s been in ages. I’d tried to work for the day without my cast (and while keeping my foot elevated as much as I could), but by 7pm my ankle had swollen up to the size of a papaya. Not sexy. In fact, it was the first time in my slender-ankled life that I’ve ever had a “cankle”. Gah! CANKLES! Fortunately, after two episodes of South Park and two ice packs, the crisis passed and I’d returned mostly to normal. Now I’m trying to spend at least an hour a day with ice packs on the foot and my ankle in the air to see if that helps things long term. Keep you posted.

Code Red! It’s a PHYSICALLY-DISABLED PERSON! July 19, 2006

Posted by ouchmyleg in Personal Experience, Resources.
9 comments

I’ve only had it for a week, but already I love my new disabled person sticker. Parking, usually a painful process, has become a thrilling waltz where I’m always the most popular girl and my Dance card is never full. Sadly, my sticker doesn’t enable me to priority parking on the BC Ferries, but they do have a handy policy where they’ll try to park you near the elevator. But first, you need to display their special dashboard sign. It is, I kid you not, an 8” square of shocking red cardboard emblazoned with “PHYSICALLY -DISABLED PERSON” in about 120pt font. I believe NASA should add it to their list of objects viewable from space. Were I not delighted by the extra perks, I’d have been horrified. Especially, when the crew member on the boat didn’t see it and parked me as far away as possible from the elevator. Afterwards I showed him the sign and he tersely replied “Ma’am, you’re supposed to hold that out your window when you come on the boat.” This was an excellent point. After all, I’d only had the thing on the outside of my windshield. Perhaps, next time I’ll just laminate it and wear it around my neck on a chain.

The OneCrutch.com – Followup and Offer June 26, 2006

Posted by ouchmyleg in Personal Experience, Resources.
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The creator of the OneCrutch has discovered this website and posted a reply to my previous post on his product. He confirms (as I suspected) that he wasn’t injured when they made the video, but that a new video is in the works. I’m glad to hear that he’s willing to share positive and not-so-positive feedback about his product, and would like to extend an offer to personally review the OneCrutch.

My ankle break is substantial enough that I’ll likely require some form of support (crutches, cane, sturdy arm of a swarthy bodybuilder) for quite some time. If you’d like to send me a OneCrutch to try out, I will review it on this site, and post a video of me using it for all to see. I look forward to your reply.

Dealing with it June 18, 2006

Posted by ouchmyleg in Personal Experience, Resources.
46 comments

One of the best online resources I have discovered for people coping with broken legs/hips is in the comments section of a post on one blog. Started in 2003, the post has ballooned to include more than 900 comments (and counting) from a variety of people suffering from leg injuries. It’s a support network, question and answer, and a place simply to compare injuries and know you’re not the only one with broken bones.

Almost every poster talks about experiencing some form of post-accident depression. Some are serious and require medication, and other people talk about just needing someone to talk to who understands how hard it is to lose your mobility and freedom and what a difficult time it can be. I completely agree. Being the girl who always had the car and was able to get to any party or anyone’s house, I’m suddenly the one who can hardly leave her apartment. Being tired all the time, being less active, being disappointed in my body for not being strong enough and not breaking, it’s all common with this kind of injury. Even my nightmares (which were crippling themselves for a few weeks) are typical after an accident. Knowing that I’m not alone doesn’t make it go away, and it doesn’t make it better, but it does make me feel more normal. Right now, that’s a start.

Onecrutch.com: You’ve got to be kidding me. June 11, 2006

Posted by ouchmyleg in Resources.
3 comments

According to the contextual ads in my gmail account, it appears that Google is looking to capitalize on my convalescence. Bully for them, I suppose. The first week was a series of ads about sending flowers (how thoughtful!), that have now given way to two of my newest very favourite online retailers. One is the purveyor of the most niche-marketed product since the outboard motor cozy. I’m convinced the other is trying to kill me.

Onecrutch.com and their eponymous product promise to free my hand for other tasks! If the animated graphic on their website is any indication, these tasks will likely include grabbing helplessly at family/coworkers/nearby shrubbery as I fall to the unforgiving pavement below. A combination crutch and knee rest, the onecrutch allows me to lift up my injured leg with my arm, as I walk confidently with my other leg. While I’d appreciate the ability to be able to hold a cup while I hobble along, I’m just not sure it’s really feasible. Plus, the fact that the only demonstration of their product is an animated gif and not a video of a real person makes me even more wary. EDIT: There’s a video up, and while it only shows short clips of a guy using the onecrutch, he seems quite capable. He doesn’t seem to actually have an injured leg (what? no realism?!) so I stand by my previous statement of disbelief.

UPDATE:  Tonight’s contextual Google ad for the OneCrutch was “Ouch, Broken Leg?”  My first shout out!  Woo!  It appears that at the very least, blogging can inspire better advertising, if not a better product.  

Tip #4: Use a walker, Texas Ranger June 4, 2006

Posted by ouchmyleg in Personal Experience, Resources.
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For the first few days I was at my parents house, I wasn't strong enough to use crutches. I simply didn't have the arm and shoulder strength. The physiotherapy coach at the hospital suggested that I consider using a walker to ease myself into using crutches. I scoffed at her initially and assumed crutches would be easy to use. But when you're used to two legs that generally sit right under your body weight and hold things up quite well, switching to two thin aluminum sticks is a rather abrupt change. So, I gave in. The walker wasn't so bad, really. It had wheels on the front for easy manouvering on the carpet, and disseminated my body weight over the entire frame, making it simple to balance. Yes, I felt like a senior citizen most of the time, and yes, there are photos on my parent's camera that'll likely make their appearance in the next Christmas newsletter, but who cares? I've reconciled myself with the fact that I may have looked dumb with a walker, but I'd have looked even more ridiculous face down on the floor after breaking my other leg.

One of the best things about the walker, is that most medical equipment places can rent you one for a limited time (one week to three months) for a very limited cost. I believe we paid $25 for the one I used. Mind you, we only ended up needing it for three days before I was able to move up to crutches, so the per day cost is kind of steep in my case. Regardless, it gave me the confidence to switch to crutches and the knowledge that when my day comes that I get my own permanent walker, I'll trick it out with a big wicker basket on the front and an air horn. Or giant fins.

Post Secret June 2, 2006

Posted by ouchmyleg in Personal Experience, Resources.
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The hardest part of this injury so far has been in accepting the limits of my own body. I'm a very independent person; I've lived away from home since I was 17, I'm career-minded, driven, focused. I trot down the pre-made dinner aisle in the grocery store in my 4 inch heels, buy my cat food and my single person pizza (aka “spinster wheels”) without shame or regret. I work, pay my bills, feed & love two cats, and most of the time, I do just fine managing things on my own. so what I'm about to say is quite possibly more painful than the break itself.

I can't do it alone.

Admitting that there are things I just can't do for myself right now has been really really hard to do. For the first few days, I could barely move myself from the bathroom to my bed, let alone think about showering, or making food for myself. Even now, two weeks later, it's hard for me to comprehend how I could manage things like laundry or grocery shopping on my own. In this rare instance the fall must cometh before the pride. Fortunately I have a very supportive network of friends and family who can help me if I ask, and require only a modicum of thanks/bribes/malt-derived alcoholic beverages as leverage.

But, if you think this means I'm going to date anyone who wears dress pants with dirty runners just to have a guy around to hold back the shower curtain,you're crazy. I don't care if he's really sweet and looks a little like Rupert Everett standing in a dark room (if you squint the right way). It's not happening.

Unless he's got a car. Then we'll talk.

Tip #3: Beware the small bedpan May 31, 2006

Posted by ouchmyleg in Personal Experience, Resources.
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During a multiple day hospital stay, it's fairly likely that nature will come calling at least once. If you're not mobile, this means your backside is about to become close personal friends with a bedpan. The nurse will ask if you'd like a small or a large one. Eschew vanity my dear friends and go for the large. Don't ask why. Just do it. You'll thank me.

Tip #2: Never break your leg on a long weekend May 31, 2006

Posted by ouchmyleg in Personal Experience, Resources.
1 comment so far

Or, if you do, make sure you break it really, really well and need immediate emergency surgery. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy the view of the ceiling above your hospital bed. You'll be seeing a lot of it for at least the next 24 hours.