Ankle update and mobility aid review — it’s much better! By the end of the day yesterday, I was able to, slowly and carefully and holding on to walls and things on the way, walk barefoot from my bedroom to the bathroom, with minimal pain. A bit of an ache at end of day, but nothing bad. Made it into the office this morning with a boot for the stability and forearm crutches — so far, so good. I’ll be sitting at a desk most of the day, so I think it’ll be fine.
We stopped at the Oak Park township office yesterday after Kavi’s passport application (she’s going to be in Buenos Aires for a month this summer doing study abroad, and I am a little jealous, I admit!), and borrowed some forearm crutches and a cane with four-prongs at the bottom.
It took a while to figure out how to adjust it all for my short height, but once I did, it was clear both of them would be much easier to use with a walking boot (where I’m now allowed to put weight on the foot) than the crutches I’ve been using previously.
It’s weird how mobility aids work, both physically and mentally. A quick rundown:
– wheelchairs: I used these a few times at the hospital, and when you’re exhausted, they are a tremendous blessing. If I were expecting an extended course of injury and recovery, I’d probably borrow a wheelchair for my first floor. I’ve requested a wheelchair for the airport tomorrow — I think I did, anyway. It was done entirely online, seemed pretty simple.
– manual knee scooter: hugely helpful for keeping weight entirely off the injured foot, but much use of it requires a lot of thigh-muscle balancing (on the injured leg), so you do get tired after a while. Also, you quickly learn which paths on campus are actually smooth, which mostly look smooth, which have unexpected bumps for you to trip over, and which are cobblestones and give you an uncomfortably rocky ride. On the plus side, sometimes you can coast a bit downhill, which is fun and the undergrads seem impressed or at least amused. If you’re using Uber, be sure to request an XL, or scooter may not fit in car. I primarily used this on my first floor to get around relatively easily over the course of a workday at home, and on campus, ditto.
– shoulder crutches: very difficult to maneuver on stairs, esp. down, and takes a lot of mental effort to remember not to rest your armpits on them (which can lead to pinched nerves and serious injury); takes a fair bit of upper arm strength to swing yourself about on them. Luckily, I had enough muscles to get by, and not that much weight I was trying to move, but I think this would be very difficult for a lot of people. And even for me, it was definitely tiring — I can walk a few blocks on shoulder crutches, but I need to pause and rest every half block or so.
– forearm crutches: I haven’t had them as long, and I haven’t been trying to use them for keeping weight entirely off the foot, so I can’t really speak to that. For the walking boot, though, they’re working really well for providing sufficient stability, and stairs are entirely manageable. I also like that they’re bright metal blue and black, instead of industrial medical grey plastic — they look a little bit cool. When you’re feeling decidedly slow and un-cool, every little bit helps.
– cane with four-prongs: I’ve barely used this, and I admit, part of me doesn’t want to, because it looks very plastic…old-people-ish? There’s some vanity for you, sigh. But I suspect it’d be a useful transitional piece between the forearm crutches and a simple one-foot cane. Rubber tips aren’t attractive, but they are very practical, esp. in Chicago now, where we have snow and ice on the ground.
– walker: this one I wouldn’t recommend for anyone trying to keep weight off a foot entirely — I tried it the first two days, and ended up pulling a muscle in my left arm, because I had to do a sort of hop motion, that the walker isn’t designed for. Once you can put weight on the foot, though, it’s fine for stability; I mostly used it to keep it by the bed, so if I needed to get up in the middle of the night for the restroom, I could manage it in my groggy state; it’s very supportive.
Hope this run-down is helpful! I also want to note that I am again grateful for the friend’s loan of the scooter and walker, hugely helpful.
I’m a little surprised by how easy it was to borrow equipment from the Oak Park Township — I expected that I’d have to check them out, give them a copy of my ID, but at least for the forearm crutches and four-prong crane, they just handed them to me, knowing nothing but my first name. Honor system? They apparently also have knee scooters and wheelchairs; I don’t know if they do anything more involved for loaning out more expensive equipment.
But I really appreciated how simple this was, and I wish everyone everywhere had this kind of ease in accessing mobility aids.