If you ever want a pinhole-sized glimpse of how non-accesibile the world is to people with physical disabilities, try a stint on crutches.
When I was a kid, I thought crutches were cool. My parents bought me an old wooden set at a garage sale that my friends and I would use to play make believe leg injuries. When I broke my ankle in 10th grade, crutches were a nuisance, but it meant I got to leave every class 5 minutes early and make the boys carry my backpack for me. So when the sports med physician said I had to be on crutches, I not only didn’t think it was a big deal, I failed to even notice that he didn’t give me any idea about how long I’ll have to use them. For all I know, I’ll be on crutches till I’m 40.
So, what exactly sucks about being on crutches?
You can’t carry anything.
Have you ever been inconvenienced because the paper towels were six steps away from the sink in a public bathroom? When you’re on crutches, you have to make the choice between using your toilet hands to bring a paper towel to the sink before washing or using wet hands to get to the paper towels after washing your hands.
Here is a list of things that I have carried in my pants because I am on crutches: iPad, iPhone, Lysol disinfectant wipes, travel coffee mug, water bottle, television remote, silverware, yogurt, dirty dishes, wallet, and dirty clothes from the bathroom floor.
I have also now taken to eating my breakfast oatmeal while standing at the counter in the kitchen at work. Not. Awkward. At. All.
What’s more work: pulling or pushing a door open? When you’re on crutches, the answer is both. This experience also comes with the added bonus of awkward interactions with strangers. Sketch little crutches into it, and this cartoon pretty much sums it up.
My once soft and ladylike hands are now covered in calluses, dry skin, and peeling blisters. I’ve also damaged the ulnar nerve in my right hand, so I can’t feel my pinky or ring finger.
One tiny drip of water on the floor is all it takes to make a person on crutches flail desperately for stability. I recently went to a Kwik Trip while they were cleaning the floors. It was like hobbling through a mine field.
16 weeks ago, I could run 8 miles. Not anymore.
Despite 12 weeks and 4 days on crutches (but who’s counting?), I’m happy to still have enjoyed my summer. If you’re ever wondering, it is possible to go to a beer festival and enjoy the state fair on crutches.
Till next time, I’ll be here, drinking whole milk, eating cheese, and whispering
sweet gentle urgent desperate words of healing to my crotch bone.