Outsider In a world of limited mobility: Daily routine, interrupted

This series of posts actually harks back to the summer, but I wrote them fresh as the experience unfolded, so I’ve kept them intact here.

I am temporarily experiencing life with limited mobility.  I wouldn’t be so bold or ignorant as to state that I therefore understand what it must be like to live with a permanent physical disability, but I’m bloody well getting to know that anything other than full-limbed mobility comes with more every day restrictions and frustrations than I’ve ever previously taken the time to try and imagine…

My first point of upset is that I can’t go anywhere with a cup of tea.  Or anywhere with anything, for that matter.  In true British form, though, it’s the cup of tea that seems to grate most.  One small hop-shuffle-wobble, and a tea disaster would ensue; were my hand actually free to clasp a mug, of course.  No, as I stumble around in my attempt to navigate from one place to another with giant, cumbersome, cyborg boot and crutches, the most I can do is take my slightly damaged self from A to B, all ever so slowly and precariously; loading myself down with baggage – or a cup of tea – doesn’t even come into it.

A second simple example to outline my minor plight (a broken foot) comes from working in the study today, when I start to feel a little chilly.  Oh dear, the sun has moved, no longer streaming straight into my window; its warmth is gone and, in its place, a breeze wafts in. The window is mere metres from where I sit.  Nevertheless, the simple act of getting up to close it has turned into a bit of a physical challenge in my current state.  Thus, the following sequence:

  • Retrieve crutches from somewhere they’ve fallen, hopefully nearby;
  • Place handholds in H-shape in front of me – like the nice physio lady told me – ;
  • Push down on those and through good but pathetically weak leg, plus anything else hopefully supportive within grab’s reach, all the while ABSOLUTELY NOT bashing boot-laden, gammy foot on floor.
  • Once balancing on one leg upright (hurrah!), rearrange crutches into “walk” mode and set off to window negotiating anything left on floor to make route trickier.
  • Reach window, shake crutch off wrist where it then slides to floor – shit – and close window.  Task accomplished!
  • Repeat more or less in reverse, hoping temperature doesn’t rise in room any time soon requiring window to be open again.

No, my suffering is not large, but compared to ‘stand up, walk to window, shut window, walk back, sit down’, it’s a pretty damn laborious ball-ache, really.

Another complaint of top annoying things about being on crutches (I suspect this list to get boringly long) is the palaver of bathing…

I fractured my fifth metatarsal (like the footballer I am not) on a Monday evening.  By Tuesday afternoon my fat foot was fat-boot clad and I was crutchmobile, or thereabouts.  Various trips to medical facilities, becoming accustomed to my new state, and the exhausting impracticability of basic movement, meant that going about having a wash was firmly off the list of the day’s events.  Wednesday morning, and I had no more excuses.  The bathroom awaited me, but the bathroom had warped into a newly scary place: all ledges and angles and sharpness and hardness: ceramic, metal, plastic, fibreglass, enamel…  Add water to all of this and I was in a slippery minefield of potential woe.

A flamingo-style shower was definitely out – horror stories of falls in showers resulting in car crash-style injuries were reverberating in my mind (fractured ribs, punctured lung…). So bath it was.  Keeping modesty intact, here goes the summary-

Getting into the bath: Not so difficult; we have handy handles on the bath for some unknown reason. I could kind of sit, brace, swing and lower easily enough.

The washing part: Pretty standard as fat-boot is removable.  I daren’t go near the foot itself, though, for fear of awakening a painful beast, so it shall remain as dirty and smelly as it wishes.

Getting out of the bath: Here is where it nearly all came a-cropper: a one-legged, slippery person, on a bath tub edge, with no handy hand holds outside of the bath, and nothing else to grab onto?  I was just one wet backside slide away from another trip to A&E…

You will undoubtedly be relieved to know that I conquered the bathroom on this particular occasion; through some inelegant scrabbling around with the toilet seat and a precarious, free-standing towel rail, my ablutions were concluded for the day.  No medal for heroics deserved, of course, but I feel victim more than vanquished as I begin to understand an altered world. 

Hobbling off from the bathroom to complete the start of the day with the getting dressed routine, I already feel a little battle weary at the time and energy this simplest of tasks has demanded.  I’m not sure I can be doing with it, not every day.  Nope, for the next little while, a bit dirty with a broken foot is going to have to be my thing.

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