Disabled Life

A very frustrating predicament

Last week I was going for a walk. Then I hear a crunch and a ping. The crutch on my right arm twists, swinging my body with it. I manage to relax and crash on to my side. My first thought is I slipped. I check the crutch. It’s in tact. Then I see the cuff has moved sideways. The rivet holding it in at the back has snapped, again. This is the third time this year I have had a crutch break on me.

I am halfway between home and the bus stop. I don’t have my phone on me. F**k it, I grab the crutch and start walking on the one good stick to the bus stop. It’ll stop 100 metres from the chemist and I can walk that.

When I get there the woman who normally deals with it has left. But the staff know me and are as frustrated as I am. Why did this happen?

  1. The first time it broke I slipped on a piece of plastic, slid and slammed hard into the ground. Not hurt but snapping the cuff.

2. Second time the rivet snapped 36 hours after the crutch arrived.

This time I think I know why. The cuff is very tight on my arm, it’s fine for somebody who just broke their leg and is on the sticks for a few weeks. But I’ve used them for 30 odd years. My forearms are bigger than average for a guy my size. This would put pressure on the crutch causing it to snap.

I talk about this with the chemist and they agree. The crutch is sent to Hamilton.

Today I got a call from the manufacturer at 2:30pm. I have never talked to them before.

“I’m in Birkenhead, what’s you’re address? I can just pop over to your house and have a look at the crutch to see what’s going on?”

“I’m at work.”

“You work?”

I ignore his surprise at this fact and tell him where work is. He’s driving over to meet me.

The assumption that disabled people just stay at home is still alive. This is not the first time I’ve heard it. I also had a community nurse who made unscheduled visits expecting me to be home. Because why would I work? That’s crazy!! OMG what if I could vote!

Manufacture man arrives. I show him the cuffs on my other crutches which are wider than the new one. I ask about a bigger cuff.

“Aww no. These one’s have just expanded with age, they’re the same size.”.

“Right”

“I’m gonna put 3 rivets in this time. You should talk to your occupational therapist about this.”

“I don’t have an occupational therapist. I’m a bit old for that.”

“Ha. Really? I find that very hard to believe.”

I amaze myself and don’t punch him in the face. Occupational therapy as I have experienced it is about adapting and managing your disability day day to day. You learn how to get in a bath, get on the toilet, dress yourself , move around the kitchen.

I did OT for a long time up until I was 16. By that point I had my system sorted out. There is nothing I would gain from it now.

It is obvious he is not going to listen to me. Maybe his 3 rivet plan will work or maybe it’ll snap again and they can try 4 rivets next time.

You would think somebody who works with disabled people would be more open minded. Often they aren’t they have read a text book and been told how to deal with text book cases. It worries me that my life is considered an oddity by them.

I would think I should be the norm.

 

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Disabled Life

Living on the sticks

The other day I saw a boy on crutches, he’d broken his leg and was moving very slowly. He was coming out of a shop I was going in to. I noticed his bare hands were wrapped very tightly around the handles with no padding. I thought about letting it go and then chose to give him and his father some advice.

“He’ll need some gloves, fingerless would be best.”

They looked at me. I showed them my hands, which look a lot like bacon, heavily calloused. They went home to either find some gloves or wrap some sponge on the handles. I did my bit at the time. Later that weekend I saw an older woman who had wrapped towels around the handles.

Here’s a few things about crutches.

REMINDER I AM NOT A DOCTOR THESE ARE JUST THINGS THAT I HAVE DONE THAT WORK FOR ME.

If you’re on them short term (months not life) padded gloves are great. I had trouble gripping with a full glove so again I recommend fingerless. I tried the sponge option but they tended to crumble or slip off the handle, which is quite dangerous.

You could also use hand wraps, I used these to do the Round the bays a couple of years ago, but they take a long time and can be inconvenient to remove multiple times over the day. Also while there are many videos on how to wrap hands. These are for fighters don’t wrap your thumb to tight or you won’t be able to grip the crutch.

Also use hand moisturiser at the end of the day. Otherwise your hands will crack.

Crutch Tips. These are hard to find. You obviously will have a pair when you first receive crutches but depending on how active you are and the weather you can go through them. In Summer they might last me 3-4 days in winter about a week. They are usually between 3.50 – 5 dollars each. Now a chemist should have them but usually don’t, you could also try a hardware store they sometimes carry them.

Crutches are quite strong so if you drop one it won’t shatter. People have had a bit of a panic when I’ve dropped them. I broke several pairs over the years but then I am very active and was playing sport on them. Hence why I now use a custom made pair.

Opening doors is quite tricky at first. I usually open the door quite wide then as it swings back I block it with the crutch closest to the door and then walk through. It’s quicker then it sounds.

Be careful going down hill. Gravity is your enemy and you’ll pick up speed and momentum going down hill which can lead to a fall.

If you’re going to fall try land on your side and don’t be afraid to let go of the crutch. By landing on your side you’ll protect your head. Your arms will take a blow.

Water, moss, man hole covers, road paint, wrappers, leaves, marble flooring, those little sauce bottles from sushi places, other people, wooden floors, gravel. These are things that have caused me to fall.

If you aren’t on crutches yet but you know your going to be after surgery you should exercise your shoulders and neck area. That’s the area that will hurt the most after your hands. I read somewhere that crutches also exercise your abdominals. I have been on crutches a long time and at one point was very fit. I have never had a six pack not even close.

Also have a back pack.You can’t carry things. So no walking to work sipping a coffee just sit down and enjoy the ambiance of the cafe.

Use the disabled toilets. You’ll need the space to move around.

Be very careful on stairs. I use the handrail and one crutch. I have big enough hands to be able to carry the other one in my crutch hand. Practice this on a small set of stairs to see if it works for you. Again don’t panic if you drop the crutch.

That’s about all I can think of now but I hope it was helpful or at least a little informative.

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