How to Deal: Crutches
As I mentioned in my last post, I was relegated to crutches for the last 3+ months. Aside from being in pretty awful pain for awhile, the injury dredged up an identity crisis - I had no idea how to define myself outside of running and my fierce sense of independence. I couldn't do simple, frustrating things, like grocery shop, laundry and driving. I had never been so bored and angry.
Among the boredom and anger, there were good days in between - days when I'd finally feel really, really happy again and days when I forgot that I wasn't feeling myself and days when friends dragged me out for adventures. Over the course of the last few weeks, there's been a notable amount of good days and fewer and fewer bad days sprinkled in between as I adapted (change is not my favorite - shocker, I know).
As I approach my (hopefully - fingers crossed) last week with crutches, I wanted to provide people with a beginner's guide to living on one leg in case anyone who ever reads this has the misfortune of ending up on crutches for an extended period of time. I did a lot of Googling throughout the first few weeks, wondering how I was ever going to get around. Well, three+ months later, I can say that it does get better.
1. Explore new (sedentary) hobbies. Admittedly, this was hard for me. If I had to list my top five favorite things to do, I would include: running, yoga, hiking, playing in the ocean and driving. Needless to say, all of these things were not viable options. I turned my attention elsewhere. I did research on my field of work, I created a year-long budget, I finally started getting my apartment decorated. I invested in adult coloring books - don't knock till you try it...very relaxing. I watched a lot of movies, read a few books, and painted my nails just about every two days. I finally started drawing again and playing around with web design. I also discovered I'm awful at knitting and painting. Good to know, I guess? Would I opt to do any of the aforementioned activities if I wasn't injured? I can't honestly say yes, but they prevented me from mind-numbing boredom.
2. Invest in a Netflix and/or Hulu subscription. I have never been able to binge watch until my injury - I couldn't ever keep still for over an hour. Well, things have changed, and I may have kept both services in business by myself over the past few weeks. Key recommendations: Parenthood, Dope, If I Stay, The Spectacular Now, Jessica Jones, Broad City, House of Cards, Meru, and any Shonda Rhimes show.
3. Vons delivery. Naturally, one of my biggest concerns was how I was going to go grocery shopping. I couldn't push a cart and I didn't want to eat take out endlessly. A friend let me know Vons delivered, and it's life-changing! Ordering online is easy, and they are always sending free delivery offers! I will always love perusing the aisles of Trader Joes & Whole Foods to get inspired, but this was a definite life (and time) saver.
4. Get a backpack & always wear clothing with pockets. One of the major issues with crutches I was unaware of was the ability to carry a bag. Bags end up hitting your crutches and throwing you off balance (I took plenty of spills, trust me.) and/or bags slid down your arm. But how was I going to carry things around? So, I sucked up all of my pride and began using my old, worn in college backpack. I could finally carry my laptop into work this way & it came in handy when friends visited and we need to pack for an all day adventure. However, if I didn't want to go down that route, pocketed pants or dresses were the next best option - as long as nothing fell out (girl pockets are shallow). Dresses and skirts make it a bit difficult to carry your phone and keys.
5. Get up & live as normally as possible. This was my big game-changer. For weeks, I didn't want to get up and do anything - I was angry I wouldn't be able to do everything I wanted to and I was honestly jealous of people who could. I had friends force themselves upon me (thank you), and I eventually started giving into the plans I could and showing up at November Project. Being around people gave me a sense of positive energy and a sense of stability. Plus, it helped my FOMO out a bit. I will note that: it sucks/is downright comical going to bars on crutches + get ready for the possibility of getting knocked over anywhere you go.
6. Meditate, go to therapy, practice yoga if possible, etc. This helped me remain positive. Everyone has their own approach to this, but mine was definitely meditation.
7. Vitamins. Everyday. One of the reasons I fractured my hip was that I was severely vitamin deficient (still a mystery of how). I now take about six high-dosage vitamins a day, and I am feeling great - not just healing-wise. My moods have improved, and I'm a bit more energetic.
8. Body Glide.Contrary to popular belief, crutches don't actually go right in your armpits. But, they do rub along the side of your ribs...and they hurt really, really freaking bad. Though I think I will have scars, Body Glide helped relieve some of the pain.
9. Rely on those around you. I was extremely resistant to this at first. I absolutely hate asking for help - I like knowing I can do things on my own and I feel very annoying when I ask. But, people want to help - we're social beings! Friends and even acquaintances toted me around to do laundry, get groceries, take me to the doctor when I couldn't drive, stay in with me when I was down, give me text pep-talks...the list goes on. I still hate asking, but there was no way I could have survived without sucking it up and reaching out and the ultimate kindness of people who surround me.
10. Positive affirmation. This saved my sanity. A good friend told me to make a vision board & write positive affirmation statements and stick them on my mirror. It's powerful to see "you will recover, you are someone worthy outside of running..." every single morning. I truly believe these things now.
So, if you ever have the unfortunate luck to end up on crutches for more than a few weeks, take these things into consideration. I wish I had known them early on.
Update: I hopefully only have 1 more week if my body cooperates! Cross your fingers for me!