Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Broken Leg: The Tale of a Girl on Crutches

Ali Cicerchi, Assistant Director

I remember when I was little, I thought getting braces and having a cast seemed so cool! Well, braces were not fun, and it turns out neither is having a cast. At 24, I broke my fibula (the skinny bone that runs along the outside of your leg). I had a cast and was on crutches for four weeks.

Having a broken leg, as an adult, is really not fun at all. The biggest problem with crutches is not only can you not walk, but you don’t have the use of your hands as well. Maybe you’re thinking, well duh! But the list of things you can’t do alone anymore is enormous. Things that proved to be difficult include: bathing (obviously), cooking, cleaning, running errands, carrying anything — be it mail, groceries, or even a purse. Overnight, I became fairly helpless. I have a beagle who had to go live with my parents for five weeks because I could not take care of her. My dog is extremely neurotic and while at my parents she peed on their floor, chewed their doorknobs and chewed her pet bed in half. My parents were not happy and let me know it. It was stressful to hear and yet, I was unable to do anything about it.

Aside from lifestyle changes, it’s difficult to get around on crutches. I learned very quickly that the world is not always crutch-friendly. For example, I went to the movies and the handicap stall was at the end of a line of about 25 bathroom stalls. The larger stall is easier to move around in and yet would take quite a while to get to. Or, here on UK’s campus, the closest door to where one can park with a handicap parking pass, is not necessarily closest to the elevator. The door itself may not even be a handicap accessible door.

This injury has forever changed my perspective. It was a very humbling experience to have to routinely ask for help to do even the tiniest thing, like having someone get my lunch out of the microwave.  Thankfully, I was only temporarily handicapped. However, I was routinely stared at in public while using my crutches. Some people talked to me as if my IQ had dropped 30 points because of my injury. One girl on campus shouted at me one day as I tried to go down a set of stairs if I really thought I could do it. I can’t imagine how anyone with a permanent disability faces reactions like these on a regular basis. This was not everyone, thankfully. Many friends and strangers went out of their way for me in the weeks I was on crutches.

I have some general advice I would like to share if you or anyone you know winds up on crutches:

  1. Be your own advocate when dealing with doctors! My first doctor at an urgent care told me I had a sprained ankle.
  2. Write down questions you have for a doctor. It can be very overwhelming once you are with the doctor.
  3. Ask for help! People realize you are going to need some extra help.
  4. If someone you know is on crutches the two best things you can do for them — bring them food and offer to hang out with them doing something they can easily do like watch a movie. 

1 comment:

  1. You’ll never know what others feel until you put your feet on someone else's shoes. But in your case, their crutches. I am glad that you shared your experience through this blog. This will definitely help others to know what must be done if ever they experience a broken leg.