This last knee surgery landed me on crutches for 3 months and counting. This isn’t my first rodeo though, I am no stranger to shiny aluminium poles that bear my weight. I’m a frequent flyer so to speak. As I lay awake at night, unable to sleep again because physical therapy wrecked me and the radiating pain preventing me sleep proves it, I’m reflecting on the lessons learned from my time off my feet. It occurs to me that there are many like me, undergoing surgeries, breaks, or sprains, and trying to figure out how to cope with it in their daily lives. It is by no means an easy task but I’m hoping that some of my experience could help ease someone else’s burden, if only temporarily. If you are dealing with a lower extremity injury then here is my list of must have/ must dos.
What makes these things indispensable is that 1) they can do ice for your swelling or you can heat them to relax your muscles and 2) they have a strap that you literally tie to you. This is a game changer because when you roll over or try to adjust, it wont fall off! There is nothing worse then your ice pack sliding off, trying desperate to reach it, and almost falling out of the bed. Trust me on this. Plus there are 2 in the pack so you can either keep one as just ice and the other heat or have one chilling while the other is in use.
I made the mistake of not buying this until my most recent surgery and I’m really not sure how lived without up to this point. Gone are the days that I will try to balance my leg up on multiple pillows that slide around and flatten out. This thing holds my leg at just the right angle to help with the swelling and it doesn’t move from me when I sleep at night. It does take a little getting used to, especially if you are a side sleeper, but depending on your surgery/injuring that might not be an option for you anyways.
The only small glimmer of joy ( at least at first) is that you will be doing all your activities from your bed. While you could try to balance your plate of food on a pillow and hope you don’t get crumbs all over the place where you basically live now, its much easier to buy one of these and keep it tidy. If you have to lower your head because your tired or due to swelling, this one tilts up so you don’t have to stop watching your cat videos. Extra incentive is that after you get all healed up, this will still be useful for anytime you want breakfast in bed.
If you have every been on crutches for prolonged periods then you know the hell they can be on your armpits. For real. Its not unusual to get infected hairs, sores, or bruises from the way they rub (though I’m told this doesn’t happen has much if you use them properly, but I get tired so I don’t). Now I’ve never actually used these but I’ve seen them used by others who swear by them and you bet good money that when my next inevitable surgery comes along, I will be jumping on this bandwagon.
If you decide to stick with the standard crutch style but aren’t feeling the above mentioned soreness that the built-in padding provides, then I highly suggest you get some covers. If you spend much time up on your crutches, say undergoing the hell that is physical therapy, then you are going to sweat all over the pads for both underarms and hands. These babies are made of moisture wicking and breathable fabric, while still giving the extra cushion your underarms need at a budget friendly cost. Best part is the pocket attachment that lets you carry a drink, your phone, or other essentials with you!
News flash: Your days of carrying stuff with your hands are over for awhile. You are going to be using them to help keep you upright so your best option for transport anything is a backpack. My paraprofessionals got me one of these lovely things as a gift before I got hurt and I honestly don’t know how I ever lived without it. SO MANY POCKETS! Plus its just all around cute. I don’t feel like a child when I’m packing this around but more like the mature incapacitated adult that I am. If you need anymore reason to purchase, it comes with a battery charge pack so that you don’t have to add dead battery to your list of worries.
This by no means encompasses all the things you are going to want as you attempt to recover over the next few months. Physical therapy will probably having you buying some form of exercise band and boredom will convince you to go ahead and rent that movie or buy that book. It’s alright though. You do what you got to do to survive these next few months because slowly but surely it will get better. Keep pushing forward and try to remember that someday this will all be a faint memory and scar with a story.