Antique Crutches

Antique Crutches
We have upgraded the crutches only by attaching pathetically uncomfortable padding to the armpit section and the hand section. We have come a long way, haven't we?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Keeping Sane

You might think, "Wow, it would be wonderful to have a broken leg! I could sleep in, relax all day and do whatever I wanted to!" Unfortunately, breaking your leg isn't that glamorous. The weird thing is that when I was a little girl, I thought it would be fun to break a bone-any bone! I always knew that was probably a weird thing to wish until I was talking to a friend after I broke my leg. She was commenting that probably in a child's mind, breaking a bone = attention and lots of it! This is true, when a small child breaks their bone, there is a lot of attention from teachers, classmates, friends, family and doctors. When you are an adult, it isn't that exciting actually!

How do I keep sane? This month has probably been the longest month of my life. I know that sounds like an exaggeration, but it really isn't. I live alone and I have found that living alone while having a broken leg and pain for most of the time (that has resolved, thankfully), it is really hard being alone 24 hours a day. I do have wonderful family and friends who have helped me in every way possible, but they too have lives.

I have had lonely times, sad times and very frustrating times. All in all though, I think I have managed my situation really well. Sure, I have moments of extreme frustration while trying to get my laundry basket down 2 flights of stairs and across 3 hallways to the bathroom. Sure, I end up making videos late into the night about how I get up and down the stairs (which might seem crazy to you), to pass the time and to make this blog somewhat entertaining.

Until a few nights ago, I thought I was sane....Then "The noise" started! I think that most people who I tell about the noise are slightly amused and they might wonder what I'm really trying to tell them. They entertain me with their, "That must be awful?", but they quickly change the subject and I don't blame them. If a friend called me up to complain about this noise, then I too might change the subject quickly. Maybe you can be the judge on whether or not I'm sane!

The noise seems to be coming from the house beside me. It is a low throbbing kind of noise. I noticed the noise one night while I was trying to sleep and I just assumed that the family next door had their TV on too loud or their music on too loud. I fell asleep soon after that and I didn't think twice about it.....until the same thing happened the following night. The noise was only in my bedroom, so again I assumed that they had the volume up too loud next door. The noise is almost like a morse code. The throbbing is three long beats and then a quick beat.
The noise has gotten louder over the past few days. I also hear it throughout the entire day and not just in the night like originally. The noise also is now heard all over my house! It is true, I am going insane!

If I were still on pain meds, I might blame it on the meds but the noise is so invasive, most nights I don't fall asleep until 3a.m. This noise is affecting my sleep and I have to get to the bottom of it.

I called my neighbour to the left of me last night. She only had heard silence. I hobbled over to my neighbour to the right of me this evening and he hadn't heard a single noise over the past several weeks from anywhere. He denied playing his music or TV really loudly and I do believe him. He did look at me a few times during our conversation with some annoyance and I bet he wanted to make the cuckoo symbol (you know when you twirl your finger around in circles beside your head when you want to signal to someone that the person is nuts?) several times during our conversation. I wobbled back to my house with frustration. As soon as I shut the door, the noise started again! What am I going to do? I'm prepared for any and all suggestions!

So, perhaps I have gone a little insane from spending too much time in front of this computer playing online backgammon and watching youtube videos about crutches and fun tricks you can do with your wheelchair.

Perhaps I need to spend more time in the fresh air. perhaps I need to get my hearing checked. Perhaps I need to watch Rear View Window to search for a conspiracy theory that perhaps my neighbours are trying to convince me I'm insane by putting this noise into my house!? Any of these ideas can be a possibility. I do know this: the next person who comes for a visit-I will ask them to listen. To listen really carefully for...the noise.

P.S. According to the Morse Code, the closest thing that I could be hearing (3 longs and a short) would either be an 8 (3 longs and 2 shorts) or V (1 short and 4 longs). Mmm..>What could this mean?

The Cuckoo Sign:

"Cuckoo sign
A gesture made by closing ones fist, extending the index finger, and circling it around ones ear or temple for several seconds. This gesture is used to indicate that someone is speaking nonsense or is crazy (more colloquially, this is described as being cuckoo). The "cuckoo" sign is well-known in the United States and Canada"! (From:

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

How To Videos

I thought I'd have some fun and make some videos about how I get around in my house! Enjoy!

The interesting part with climbing up and down the stairs either using my knee or my bottom occurs when I attempt to carry items up and down the stairs! I do try to use bags and backpacks but sometimes it is just easier to put the items on the steps and when I go up one step, the item also comes up one step. This gets tricky with things like drinks and food items but so far only one minor accident has occured with my yogurt.
I do get quite frustrated when I'm trying to bring things into my craft room. With my mom's help and another friends' help, I have my craft items all within reach but it becomes tricky when I'm trying to carry scrapbooks into the room, or when I have to make several trips to bring my laptop in the room, then retrieve some movies, then bring a drink in. It takes patience and time (which I have a lot of).
It is amazing how much time it takes to get organized either on the couch, in bed, or in my craft room.
I have learned patience, perseverance and motivation over this past month and I hope to carry on these traits when I return to the "real world".
If you want to learn anything about how a disabled person lives, even for a moment, go ahead and break your leg! Just joking of course, but I do have more empathy for those who are trying to maneuver through the grocery store while on crutches or in a wheelchair and not having one person ask them if they would like some help getting the cereal box on the top of the shelf.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Fashion Trends for Casts

A friend of mine suggested I write a posting based on crutch fashion. I had no idea that there was such a market!
I think if anything the cast fashion has to do with comfort rather than style. I doubt that anyone with a cast is thinking, "How can I make my cast more fashionable?" They are probably thinking, "How come I make my crutches/ cast more comfortable?" I've found some websites that do just that: make your crutches/cast more comfortable AND more fashionable!
Even if you don't have crutches or a cast, these websites are interesting to check out.

A company offers bags to cover your cast while you shower! I could use one of these for sure.

I use a knitting needle to relieve itchiness in my cast. I think that this spray would be safer, but how do you spray inside a cast?

I stand corrected-you can get fun material covers for your crutches. They think of everything don't they?

A company called Lemon Aid Crutches has even made pouches that you can attach to your crutches to carry items of importance.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Help Is On The Way

When my mom left to return to Ontario, 10 days after I had fallen and broken my ankle, I wasn't sure how I would cope. I couldn't drive. I was very wobbly using my crutches and I was still suffering from a lot of pain. Many people had offered to help and I am so thankful that they were willing to help! Over the past few weeks, I've had friends drop in for a visit. I've had friends vacuum, do my laundry, pick up my groceries and wash my bathroom without me even asking! I've had numerous friends drop off delicious food and yummy Tim Horton's Ice Caps, which are my favourite.

I've had people praying for me and people comforting me over the phone when I've had sad and frustrating times. Friends have taken me shopping, out to the movies and out for a meal. Friends have picked me up and have helped me run many errands. Friends have welcomed me into their homes for their family Sunday meals.
It is amazing how people can just gather around someone in need and I am truly thankful that the Lord has blessed me with these wonderful and generous people.
Thank you lovely friends for everything you have done for me during this very trying time!

Cast Number 2

After I received my flashy purple cast, I was scheduled to go and see Dr. P, the Orthopedic Surgeon about 6 days later. I was not looking forward to this appointment because I knew there would be a lot of pain involved. I was right!

I hobbled into the appointment around 8 a.m. Dr. P did not show up until 8:15, which was okay for me! More time to try to relax and not hyperventilate at the thought of having my cast sawed off! Dr. P immediately recognized me (in an earlier post, I had mentioned that I work with Dr. P) and he exclaimed with amazement and laughter shinning through his eyes, "What are you doing here!?" His nurse got to work sawing off my cast. She started sawing down my cast on the left side of my cast. I felt pressure and that was about it, then she started going down the right side of my cast and that is when I felt pain. In the middle of it she said, "You know I'm not going to cut you?" How did I know that? The saw felt like it was right against my skin and when she went over my ankle, which is where the break was, I started getting really tense!

Thankfully, it was over within minutes and she removed the top portion of my cast but left the rest of my leg in the rest of the cast. She then wrapped a tensor bandage around the cast to keep my leg in the cast while I went to the urgent care clinic down the street to have a new set of xrays taken.

Mom and I then went to the urgent care clinic for xrays and was I in for a very challenging surprise. The xrays were the kind were you simply lie down on the bed. Nope, these were the tortourous, jump up 2 steep stairs without your crutches, put your foot right down on the platform, then turn your broken ankle/foot to the right and then once again to the left kind of xrays! Not pleasant at all!

Hoping up the 2 stairs was really quite difficult since my leg was no longer in a cast (Mom had to remove the tensor bandages and the cast before I went for xrays) so my right leg had no support. I was in pain due to the sawing off my cast and now I was just scared to even move for fear of me falling and landing on my unprotected right foot. It was a nightmarish experience and I was incredibly thankful when it was over and I was safely back in my wheelchair in the waiting room.

I then returned to Dr. P's office. He recasted my right leg but this time I didn't get the fun task of choosing a fun colour. All he had in his office was boring white fiberglass! I had to lay on my stomach, bend my right knee and together with his nurse he pushed my foot down at a 90' angle and spent a good 5-10 minutes wrapping my leg with thick gauze and fiberglass. I talked nonstop-out of fear and out of pain.

When it was over, I had on a very heavy and long cast on my right leg. My original cast was from below my toes to about 5" away from the bottom of my knee cap. This cast was covering my toes and went up to about 1" away from the bottom of my knee cap. It was heavy and awkward and I could feel my leg swelling within the cast.

Dr. P had two concerns: The first concern was the swelling to my leg and the second concern was fear of foot drop. Foot drop basically occurs when the muscles in your foot atrophy (weakend) due to lack of use and lack of muscle tone. I know that my patients who have had foot drop really struggle with walking and foot drop is not easily resolved. I knew that if I did suffer from foot drop due to improper casting techniques, then I would be in for many many months of physiotherapy and I might possibly always walk with a limp. I certainly did not want that!

Dr. P suggested I ice my leg frequently! I had no idea that the coldness of ice would even penetrate through the thick and heavy fiberglass cast, but after talking to a family friend who is a chiropractor, he told me that the ice would eventually lower my body temperature to at least 45'. When this occurs ,then an enzyme is released into my body and pain is resolved and the swelling will reduce. Who knew?!

Dr. P then gave me a lesson on how to walk with crutches. I guess I had been doing it all wrong! I have actually looked through some you tube videos and they too do not have the correct technique! Even though it was incredibly awkward adjusting the hobbling that I had been doing with my crutches for a week in order to master Dr. P's method, in the end I was greatful for the lesson.

We then went into his office for me to look at the xrays. The xrays were amazing to see and we spent a good 10 minutes discussing my break, surgery and the plan for me. I was very thankful for the time that he spent with me and I had a feeling that he was spending more time with me since 1. He loves me! (we always have fun together when we are working and 2. He knows me (like I said before, I had been in to observe one of his surgeries. I thanked him for his time and Mom and I headed home!

My next appointment is April 5th, where Dr. P and I will discuss whether or not I need surgery! The idea of surgery does scare me, but I know that if I do need surgery, I'll be in good hands with Dr. P. During my next appointment, I will unfortunately have to go through the same ordeal as I did during this appointment: cast being sawed off, trip to urgent care clinic to have xrays done and another cast put on my right leg. At least for my next appointment, I will know what to expect.

Here is a video of a cast being sawed off...the girl doesn't look like she is in pain, but when the nurse sawed off my cast, it was really painful!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

History of Crutches

I hate my crutches! They are useless, they hurt and I end up being very wobbly with them. I love my wheelchair! I know how to use my wheelchair and sure, it is cumbersome and awkward at times, but it doesn't hurt to use my wheelchair like it does to use my crutches. For the most part, I am able to use my wheelchair in the main part of the house, but when I need to get upstairs, I crawl on my hands and knees. When I reach the landing upstairs, either I simply crawl to the bathroom, or I crawl to my bed and get up with the use of my bed or the stand beside the toilet. I then will use my crutches. I only use them really at bedtime and when I'm getting ready in the morning. Otherwise, they live upstairs.

I dread going down my main stairs in front of my house. I am so afraid of falling and the idea of falling flat on my face on a concrete walkway is not appealing to me at all. When I leave the house, I slide down the stairs on my bum. Yes, the concrete is cold and yes I look like a dork, but it is less scary and more comfortable than trying to jump down the three steps.

When Mom was here, we had a great thing going. I would slide down the steps on my bum, with my crutches beside me. I would use my crutches to get to the car and then use the door of the car to hobble into the car. Mom would then manage to get the wheelchair down the steps of my house and into the back of the car. I have a Matrix, so we folded one backseat down and the wheelchair would slide right into its spot. Mom recently had shoulder surgery (about 6 weeks before my accident) and she would be able to get the wheelchair up into the back of the car, but then I would need to reach around from the back seat and help bring the wheelchair further into the Matrix so that the trunk would close. If we went anywhere, I always preferred to use my wheelchair.

I did have one incident of using my crutches in a department store and having a not so great episode! I felt like fainting and my left leg was cramping with the weight of my body. My mom had to rush around the store looking for a chair with wheels to bring to me so I didn't faint onto the floor of the department store! Talk about embarrassing!

When we went places, getting out of the car, Mom and I would simply reverse the order. She would bring the wheelchair out of the back of the car and I would hobble out of the side door into the wheelchair.

Since I now have these crutches, I decided to look into the history of crutches. I know that crutches date way back to any war, since there are so many pictures that I've seen with soldiers injured who are using crutches, but I wanted to dig deeper.

According to one website, crutches were around even in per historic times! Crutches were evident in drawings from the prehistoric times in Egypt. Apparently, the design of crutches has not changed much since then. When crutches were first created, sticks were used and padding was added by the patient. Emile Schlick patented a walking stick in 1917 that could be called the first commercially produced form of crutches. In this design there was a support for the upper arm to rest on. However, it was A.R. Lofstrand, Jr. who patented the first deign for crutches that could be adjusted to suit the height of the user. There you have it! The history of the crutches...pretty basic but I'm sure if either Schlick or Lofstrand Jr. patented their products, they probably died millionaires!

A Trip To Work

The day after I had my first cast put on, Mom and I headed over to work. I needed to hand in some forms for my time away from work and also my vacation requests. We stopped in for a visit and some of the staff members signed my cast. It was fun to see everyone, but I'm so glad that I got to leave after 10 minutes!

Cast Number 1

48 hours after I broke my leg (actually the distal portion of my fibula), I was to return to the urgent care facility and exchange the temporary cast (thick gauze, tensor bandage and a hardened piece of gauze along the back portion of my leg and up to my toes) for a fiberglass cast.

Thankfully, my mother was here in town to drive me to the urgent care facility and also support me during the procedure. I had a feeling they would have to reset my bone and I was prepared for the pain I would have to endure.

It is amazing the things you get to look forward to once you've broken your leg. I know it doesn't sound like a big deal to you, but to me, it was exciting to learn that I got to choose my own colour for the cast. The physician who was going to apply the cast told me that I could choose from orange, blank, red, blue, bright green or purple. I already knew the colours in advance (again, it was something I was looking forward to) and I immediately told the physician that purple is my favourite colour, so I would like a purple cast. He offered to be creative-apparently at Halloween time, he likes to do orange and black casts. At Christmas time, he does red and green casts. He suggested a boot like cast-where it was black at the bottom up to my ankle and then another bright colour. He would make my cast look like a shoe and a sock. I stuck with my all purple cast.

I was right, the physician informed me that he would have to set my foot while they applied the cast. As the physician pushed against my foot in order to ensure it was at a 90' angle, I tried to keep quiet, but it was hard not to scream! I think it was the longest 5 minutes of my life.

The physician and intern finally stopped bending my foot back when either the physician had enough of my hysterics or they thought my foot was at a 90' angle. With one of them holding my foot, the physician applied first a sockette (a thin tubing that lay directly onto my foot/ leg), then heavy gauze, and then finally the wet purple roll of fiberglass. The cast started just below my toes up to about 5' from my knee cap. At my toes and at the top of the cast, they turned over the gauze and the thin sockette to form a cushion in between the fibreglass and my leg.
The cast was a lot heavier than the original temporary cast and my ankle/leg was screaming with pain.

I left with a prescription for Tylenol2s (since the original suggestion of ibuprofen was not helping the pain) and a referral to see an Orthopedic Surgeon in two weeks time. When I heard that the orthopedic surgeon was a physician that I work with, I was thrilled.

Dr. P is a very thorough physician but also one who has fantastic bed side manner. I remember one evening shift, Dr. P came onto the unit and he showed me the pictures he had on his digital camera of various surgeries he had performed. It was amazing that he would have pictures of a foot amputation surgery, then he would have a picture of him with his cousins, then back to pictures of foot/ankle surgeries! Whenever he came onto the unit, he always wore jeans but he was always friendly with the staff and often he would take the time to explain medical issues with me. One evening, he even let me come into the OR with him as he amputated a patients' toe!
I was thankful that he would be my orthopedic surgeon and my mother and I left the urgent care clinic with my new purple cast.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Do Not Ever Doubt A Mother

The same day that I broke my leg, I called my parents. They were very sympathetic and I said right away, 'I just want to come home.' Mom said, "Sure you can! Oh wait, we are going on a 10 day cruise, but you can have the house to yourself!" Um...Mom? I don't need a house! I have one. I needed help. I needed someone to drive me to my dr's appointments and tuck me in.
The next day, I was talking to my dad over the phone and he said to me, "Don't worry, help is on the way." I said, "What do you mean?" He said, "Well, I've called you haven't I? I'm the help!" I didn't think anything of it except that is his sense of humour.
A few hours later, my dad calls again and says, "We are driving to Calgary!"
My mom quickly grabbed the phone and said, "No, No...I'm at the airport and I'm coming to Calgary!"
Wow, was I releaved. How was I going to manage the next little while without help. I realized at this point (after being in this heavy temporary cast) that I couldn't be on my own righ then.
My mom arrived that night and stayed for 10 days! It was such a blessing to have her. She did so many things for me that I didn't realize I would need help doing. She cooked, cleaned, made my bed in the morning, did countless loads of laundry, and she was wonderful company for me while I was in a lot of pain.
When my mom left last Saturday, it was hard to say goodbye. Not only was I saying goodbye to a lovely nurse, but I was saying goodbye to a dear friend.

Here's The Story

On Saturday, February 27th, I had adopted this gorgeous dog: Keno, a 4 year old German shepherd/husky mix. She was perfect. She didn't bark, she was totally house trained, she didn't tear a part my house when I wasn't home, she loved being walked!
On Monday, March 1st at around 4 p..m, I had just gotten home from work and decided to take Keno for a long walk. I was walking around my neighbourhood for around 10 minutes and I decided to see if a friend wanted to come for a walk with us. She only lives about 5 minutes away walking, so we headed over to her house.

All three of us were walking along and I remember saying, "Why is there a muffler on the sidewalk" and that was it. I slipped on some ice on the road and the next thing I knew, I was on the ground screaming in pain, holding my ankle and Keno was licking my cheek. I immediately knew I had broken my leg! I am so thankful that my friend had agreed to come with me for a walk! I figured out how to stand up without allowing my right leg/ankle to touch the ground. When I stood and put the tiniest amount of pressure onto the ankle, I knew it was a mistake. My ankle and leg had swollen to about the size of a large melon/brick combination.

We were about 2 blocks away from home. While Keno and I waited at the stop sign, my friend went back to my house and picked up my car. It seemed like forever, but she returned with the car. I hobbled into the car and we returned to my house, dropped off Keno then we headed off to an urgent care facility.

Two years ago, in a small town called Airdrie, (about a 20 minute drive from Calgary) created a fantastic mini hospital. We were in and out within 4 hours, whereas at the hospital where I work, it would have taken 8 hours just to even be seen by a physician.

I had two sets of xrays done and the xray technician told me, "You know it is broken, right?" I sadly said, "Yes." You see, I think the reason why I sort of don't remember the fall is because of the physical shock I received after my bone broke in 2! 48 hours after I left the urgent care, I was to return for my official "real" fiberglass cast. The swelling had to go down before a cast could be applied to the leg/foot. I left the hospital with strict instructions to stay off my foot (no problem there), a set of $22 crutches, and my right leg and foot wrapped with thick gauze, tensor bandages and a molded form attached to the bottom of my foot. I was in extreme pain but in relatively good spirits because my lovely friend had stayed with me during the entire time.

We left the hospital and so many things were racing through my mind. What am I going to do? What about work? What about me attempting to live alone with this heavy cast? I was overwhelmed. With just orders for ibuprofen every 4 hours and apply ice, I was on my own.

My friend dropped me off, got me settled, then she needed to get going.
She left and I cried! A lot! I called my parents and informed them of all that had happened. I called work and gave them the short version. Then I realized, how much pain I was in!

After I finished making some calls, I tackled the stairs. I have about 10 stairs going from the main floor to the upstairs (where my bathroom and bedroom is located). While I was hobbling from the couch to the stairs, I lost my balance x2. I ended up stepping on my broken ankle/foot and screaming in pain. It took me 10 minutes with lots of deep breathing to calm myself down and settle the pain a little bit. Crutches are NOT as easy as they seem to be.

Keno was with me this entire time-sweet girl. I had a few more breakdowns with lots of tears. Keno just kept on looking at me and patting her helped settle me.

Another good friend, came over after her evening shift and gave me some much needed Tylenol 2s and helped me settle into bed. I think I slept that night...not sure, but I only woke up a few times to try to organize my blankets and pillows over my very large right foot/ankle.

Thankfully...THAT day was over!