When you’re out having fun, the last thing you think about is getting hurt. But then it happens. You fall to the ground in agony. You heard some sort of pop and then a sharp line of severe pain bolts through your leg repeatedly. You knew then this wasn’t something small. You go to the doctor and find out you broke your leg and will be on crutches for the next eight weeks.
Crutches suck. Period. It doesn’t matter how long you are on them for; they are not fun. It’s even worse when you’re a busy, independent person. You have to run errands, go to work, go to the gym, walk your dog, make dinner, clean your apartment and shower. All of these are now made that much harder.
The simplest, everyday things that you do have now earned a new level of complication. Now, you must balance on one leg to complete daily activities, and on top of that, your arms are tied up, too. Walking your dog, I’m sorry, it is just not going to happen. You can barely hold the leash. Not to mention, if your dog takes off, you’re going down. Your crutch will fly out of your hands, and you will end up on the ground, hopefully not being dragged along by your dog. Dog walking while on crutches is not something I would even dream of attempting. This task would prove almost impossible when something as rudimentary as going to the bathroom became a difficult task.
When you are on crutches, you lose almost the entirety of the independence you pride yourself on. You must ask people to do things for you. In turn they get annoyed, and while, yes, it is directly your fault since you asked, it’s also not your fault. You’re at a disadvantage, and you know you would do it for yourself if you could. In fact, you would prefer it was that way.
This predicament happened to me while I was in college. It was the first weekend back at school, and I went out to the bar with my friends, as many 21-year-old college student do. I had a drink in my hand, dancing with my friends to a great song, not a care in the world. Then I heard “pop.” I fell to the ground (thankfully I didn’t hit my head or anything, otherwise I would be writing an even more complicated story here). Everything was numb and quiet to me just for a moment, then the pain came. In that moment I was fine; for a second if felt as if I had just stubbed my pinky toe on a piece of metal. As I sat there I moaned, “Owwwwww!” thinking the pain would subside momentarily, but it didn’t. And that was when the tears started. I began bawling!
Everyone around me was looking at me like, “What the hell is that drunk girl doing on the floor crying?” But believe me when I say I was not drunk. I had a few drinks, but I was certainly not heavily intoxicated like most of the others at the bar. This is something that could’ve happened if I was sober, simply because I am characteristically clumsy. Note, I once broke my ankle walking down the stairs. For the next week I was terrified I would have to get surgery on my knee. Thankfully, it was only an MCL sprain. The MCL—Medial Collateral Ligament–is the ligament on the inside of your knee that helps your knee bend. While that was certainly no walk in the park (Hah! No walking for me) it was a lot better than tearing a ligament and having to get surgery. Still, I was going to be on crutches for a couple of weeks, minimum.
I was getting fed up with having to ask people to do things for me. Something as simple as getting an ice pack became a chore I couldn’t do by myself.
Showering was ridiculously annoying, balancing all of my weight on one leg proved to be a strength training exercise. By the end of the shower the uninjured leg was exhausted.
Getting to class and other places I had to go? Well, that was just difficult. One thing I noticed about my college campus: it is NOT constructed for people on crutches. The buildings are blocks away from each other, and the parking lots are an unreasonable distance from the closest door.
Having to carry things on my own began to aggravate me. However, I did learn to hold things in new ways that I never thought I could. My fingers definitely got stronger, along with my arms, my abs and my uninjured leg. Crutches are, essentially, the full body workout.
Being on crutches in college taught me, a very self-sufficient person, a valuable lesson. It’s OK to rely on people, especially when you have no other choice. Doing certain things on my own caused my knee to hurt worse, so I chose to let people do things for me. To illustrate, washing my own dishes was painful because I had to stand, which in turn caused blood to rush to my injury, making it ache and throb.
I learned that a lot of people don’t care if someone needs help; they will just continue to sit there, brainlessly infatuated with their cellphones. But on the other hand, there are plenty of nice, willing people that helped me out. Having people hold doors for me and offer to help hold my bag while going down a flight of stairs made me feel extraordinarily grateful for the nice people out there. They are the people who give me a glimpse of hope in our world. Those people helped me realize that, yes, even though some people are jerks who don’t care, someone out there does. It is OK to ask for help when you can’t do something; it might make your life just a little bit easier.
Story by Amanda Johnston