10 Things You Can Do With Crutches: a photo gallery

Unfortunately for me, my physical therapist practices in the same building as a CrossFit. Lava injections could not be more painful than the post-op manual therapy I have been prescribed, but to make things worse, I have to crutch past some kind of CrossFit Ten Commandments billboard every time I go.

I know a little more about CrossFit now than I used to: very ripped people hang from bars and grunt louder than copulating elephants.

“I like it when the girls are in here on Tuesday morning,” one of my fellow PT patients remarked. “There’s two of ’em could whup us all.”

CrossFit is, apparently, more than a workout choice. It is a Lifestyle, as the tenet above illustrates. Limping past slogans like this on my crutches, at a time when I have to take a nap after the supreme effort of getting a shower, I hear the trumpet of an absurd kind of privilege: the privilege of a healthy body that can choose to go in search of pain and pay for the experience.

Do CrossFit devotees embrace such terrifying workouts, and measure the worth of their workout by the depth of their fear, because they don’t face enough real-life challenges?

“I will pick a fight with every challenge that comes my way. I will battle until I achieve success and then look for my next opponent,” the CrossFit wall reads. I wonder what would happen if all the country’s CrossFit acolytes devoted the same fervor to, say, civil rights or childhood hunger?

But let’s get the focus back on me. I wonder if fighting your way back from having your hip and pelvis sliced open, rearranged, and stitched back together is really any harder than a month of CrossFit. You want a challenge? Get on your crutches every single time you have to go to the bathroom. Watch your cousin’s one-year-old daughter take the stairs much faster than you can.

After my surgeries, I thought it didn’t get any sexier than this full-coverage Velcro hip brace:

And then I went grocery shopping in crutches:

That is to say, I gimped around the store pointing at things I couldn’t lift while my friend put them in the cart for me.  And I was so exhausted I felt sick to my stomach.

I would like to think that deep down inside, I can relate to the CrossFit dare, because there are a hell of a lot of things you can’t do while you’re on crutches, and yet I persevere. Jokes like not being able to walk and chew gum at the same time take on a rather painful cast as you realize just how much multitasking we do while walking. You want a challenge? Remember that you can’t walk and hold anything at the same time. Fortunately, I’m a curvaceous woman and there is room in my bra for items including but not limited to cell phones, keys, medicine bottles, and post-operative paperwork.

However, in the CrossFit spirit of demolishing life’s physical challenges, I’ve decided to focus on the things you CAN do with crutches:

  1. Stand up.

2. Walk.

3. Push shit out of the way when you’re trying to walk.

4) Turn on the lights.

5) Close the damn door.

6) Pick up yesterday’s sports bra. No, not for CrossFit. I’m just going for maximum comfort these days.

7.  Get a spurious sense of self-sufficiency and independence.  There were a few weeks where my caregivers would deliberately lean my crutches against the wall, a few feet away. This was because I was not allowed to attempt standing up by myself, and I could not stand up by myself, but am I dumb enough to try something like that. But one night, someone left the crutches leaning on my bedside table, within my reach. This is the kind of excitement crutches can afford you. Suddenly, you’re able to stand up by yourself, maybe walk down the hallway a bit, and if you’re feeling really ambitious, put your pants on all by yourself.

8) Get outside and take a closer look at slugs. ‘Nuff said.

9) Grasp your last link to the outside world. When no-one is home, your iPhone is almost dead, and you can’t bend over, you better figure out a way to pick up that cord.

10) Get artistic inspiration. One day, your friend will bring you bagfuls of craft supplies for your own entertainment, and faced with endless possibilities, you will fashion a tiny pair of crutches out of pipe cleaners. GET ME OUT OF HERE.

I don’t want to be too sanguine about crutches. Remember when your friend in elementary school broke his ankle and everyone was begging to try out his crutches? Yeah, well it’s not so fun now. My neck and shoulders are in knots, the heels of my hands are sore, and if I so much as look at a single stair in a public place, people stop to ask if I’m OK.  It’s amazing how long you can put off going pee when you have to go to the bathroom on crutches.

There are many things you can do with crutches. Like take a shower, in a flat-bottomed stall with the end of the crutch jammed against the corner tiles so you won’t slip. But, genius that I am, I’m here to say that you better lather up that washcloth first thing, because you cannot, cannot, cannot  pick up the soap with crutches once you drop it.

GODDAMMIT.

Or your little green pill.

FUCK.
FUCK.
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20 Comments

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  1. So informative. 🙂 Reminded me of recovering from a shattered kneecap a few years ago. I hope you heal quickly. Are your PT people probably sadists?

    • Yes, I hope everyone comes away from this a little more educated than when they started. Hope your kneecap is in one piece now.

      I don’t think my PT is a sadist — he clearly doesn’t enjoy my pain. He just doesn’t care. Or wants me to get better even though it hurts. Whatever.

  2. Yes, I understand the complexities of crutches all too well. They make a whole new set of muscles sore while you can’t put any weight on the originally injured/broken part that kills if you so much as put an ounce of pressure on it. Handy devices when needed however…. hope you’re off them soon.

  3. who’s calling my rocking chair shit?? 😉

  4. Gotta hand it to you, the pipe cleaner crutches are adorable! And no matter how ripped those cross fitters are a crutch to the gut really tends to shut it down. Hang in there girl.

  5. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    I know this whole thing sucks balls (except for the part about eventually being pain free) but boy did I howl (with laughter again). Sharing. xoxoxo

  6. I wrote an essay a while back about the joy of hobbling around with a cane. I think your essay is funnier. I particularly liked your description of the CrossFit gals and hope they’ll consider using it in future promotional materials.

  7. I tried some of those…pick stuff up especially. People don’t know how hard “Life on crutches” is.
    Getting into the shower was the worst!
    I had to compress the trash in small bags, put them in a backpack and go out to the big trash can..
    There are things I will never forget…I don’t want them again…ever!

    • Ugh yeah I remember those days of facing showers when I wasn’t able to stand on my own. I had to take naps afterwards before I could even get dressed. Hope you’re feeling better by now!

      • OMG!Me too…even before drying my hair I needed a nap. I still have my crutches in my trunk…I guess is called fear 😊

      • My crutches are standing in the corner of the bedroom now — high hopes that I won’t need them again! Yeah, forget drying the hair. I just wrapped myself in a towel and lay down until I was able to stand again. Surgery is the worst!

  8. Im 52, mother of two, wife and wedding photographer. Last November while bringing in the summer furniture off our deck the stop step broke and I landed on the concrete below. Through the long process of knee injury diagnosis I had surgery and need knee replacement surgery. I thought I was just a visitor in the crutch world. Once I accepted this, (it took a while) I started thinking I needed to learn to use my entire body. I’m only 52 and I’m not done yet! So I dumped the cane, and took on a new additude! Today we r on vac in the white mountains. I crutched through the flume, crutched with my family on hiking trails, and did not limit myself as to what I could do. I began pushing the barrier on my perceived limitations to reaching new goals. When I googled today for sports crutches I found this blog. Wow so inspirational!!! Thank u all for gifting us with your posts!

    • Always good to hear from other folks who have kept fighting through the challenges of surgeries or injuries. It is pretty amazing what our bodies can accomplish with the right efforts and help. Keep it up!

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