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Foot surgery - lots of crutch-time

GLC19682012-06-02 07:21:48 +0000 #1
So, as some of you may have read, I had a little accident over the weekend.

I basically was knocked over by a couple of our large dogs while I was holding a heavy bin of hay and standing on an uneven and muddy surface. I somehow ended up putting all my weight onto my right foot (including the weight of the bin) while it was turned essentially upside-down underneath me. I felt a 'snap', I screamed in pain and then I laid there in the mud running worst-case scenarios in my head. Funny thing is, I my worst-case was essentially accurate. *cry*

I broke my 4th metatarsal near the base of it (at my mid-foot) and I did some serious damage to my Lisfranc joint. I have surgery next week and then I'll be in some type of soft-splint for 1.5 weeks. Then I get a hard cast for 8 weeks. After that, a walking boot, assuming I'm healing as expected. It'll be months before I can run again, but I should be able to swim once I get the hard cast off.

So, the bigger difficulty (now that I've accepted that I will have no 2012 tri season) is logistics. I cannot drive as it is my right foot and both of our cars are standards. We are going shopping for a junker for me that is an automatic so I can at least get myself to work (driving with my left foot, which I've done before). 75 minutes round trip is too far to expect my husband to drive twice a day when he works full time, too!

And then there is the situation with crutches. I don't mind walking with them but without hands, it's really, really hard to do stuff. Laundry, carrying things, dishes, cooking, etc. And I haven't been out back since the accident, so all animal care has now fallen on my husband.

Any helpful hints on functioning with crutches? Or getting around? Or managing with a cast on? I'll take anything I can get at this point!

Biciclista2012-06-02 07:31:24 +0000 #2
I am so sorry to hear about your foot! what a bummer. Can't you get a scooter?
Hi Ho Silver2012-06-02 07:38:48 +0000 #3
I've had to endure life on crutches a couple times due to knee surgeries. I found that carrying things and getting along was fairly easy if I pre-planned before the surgery.

- I put everything that I would normally use in an easily reachable spot that didn't require bending or stretching.

- To carry things as I "crutched" along, I bought a rucksack with several pockets. I also used a fanny pack at times.

- To manage moving things like plates and drinks, I bought a cheapo plastic server cart at Walmart (about 3 feet high, with handles that made it easy to push).

- I facilitated showers by bagging up my leg (from mid-thigh to below the knee) with Saran and using surgical tape to keep water out. And I bought a cheapo plastic stool to sit on while I showered.

Good luck with your surgery and healing!
indysteel2012-06-02 08:17:23 +0000 #4
I don't have any advice for you to GLC, but I do have sympathy. I'm sorry you're having to go through this. I hope the surgery goes well and that your recovery is fast and full.
ny biker2012-06-02 07:36:51 +0000 #5
Yikes. That sucks.

I was on crutches for months back in 1993-94 due to ankle surgery. I lived and worked in NYC at the time.

I lived alone, so for the first few weeks after the surgery I stayed at my parents' house. However they had planned a vacation before I scheduled the surgery, so they were not there the whole time. My sister came over to help out each day. I went out and got a fax machine so I could work from my parents' house.

Once I was back in NYC, I think I still worked from home several days a week. I honestly don't remember how I did laundry, though I think my laundry basket was on wheels so I guess that made it easier to get to the basement where the laundry room was. I do recall using only disposable plates, cups and utentils for eating, and since I don't cook anyway I'm sure I survived on easy meals that could be prepared with the microwave or toaster oven.

For carrying things, I used my backpack. I was even able to get takeout from McDonald's (including a drink!) back to my apartment with it. That backpack was a lifesaver.

The hardest thing for me was that I had no upper-body strength at the time, so getting around on crutches was hard at first. Fortunately that won't be a problem for you. (The other hard thing was that it was a very long and slow recovery from my surgery, and most of my "friends" thought I was faking it, even though the doctor felt my recovery was at a normal pace. I'm not friends with those people anymore.)

I never tried to shower with the cast on, although I think it might have been possible to cover with plastic to keep it dry. I just didn't want to take the chance of getting it wet. I got by with sponge baths and washing my hair in the sink -- I put a chair next to the sink to rest my leg on.

Since I wasn't going out in public initially, I stuck with clothes that were easy to get on and off -- loose t-shirts and shorts with an elastic waist --and didn't worry about how I looked.

I had several different casts during the recovery time. One was hot pink and one was red. I might have had a blue one, too. I remember being shocked the first time they removed the cast -- the muscles in my lower leg were completely gone. I also remember looking in the mirror one day after the cast was finally off for good and I was in physical therapy, and seeing that the muscles were coming back. That was a very good day!!

I also recall that my skin got really itchy inside the cast after a while. But I'm pretty sure I had one for 12 weeks, so hopefully yours will be off before that becomes a problem.

One good thing for you is the season. My initial surgery was in early July during a heat wave, and I had a follow-up procedure the following January. So I had to deal with both summer heat and humidity and winter snow (and cold toes!!). I would definitely have preferred spring weather.

Overall I'd say to take it one day at a time and let your body heal. It's no fun but you'll get through it. And at least you have the internet to help you pass the time -- I was stuck with reruns of "Behind the Music" on VH1 .

Good luck!!!!!!!
GLC19682012-06-02 08:05:09 +0000 #6
Wow, thanks for the detailed replies, you guys! This is helping a lot. Unfortunately, I didn't have any time to prep for this, so I've had to do a lot of things I might otherwise have skipped. The morning that I got injured, I'd put butternut squash in the oven and our sheets and towels in the wash before going outside. We also had a guy coming to give us an estimate on some floor work that afternoon, so I had to finish the squash recipe, put sheets back on the bed, fold towels AND wash our muddy floors (gotta love dogs in the winter!), with a broken foot. Oy!

The clothing issue is a problem. Right now, I'm on strict orders to prop my foot above my heart so that the swelling will go down before surgery. The problem with that is that most of my pants won't fit over the current splint (which is no longer removable) and I can't prop my foot up that high with a skirt on while at work. Plus, I have a standing desk at work, so that's another issue. I'll have to figure out how to make it all work when I'm there tomorrow. Today I'm working from home, but I can't do that every day. Maybe half the week?

I have ordered a knee scooter, but I'm not sure how much it will help me. They apparently aren't good over varied terrain and our house is a crazy mix of floorings! I'm certain I'll just deal with the crutches at work since it's easier there. The scooter will probably just be a home thing (and maybe for grocery store or other errands). I'm hoping that we'll be able to change the wheels on the scooter ourselves to something more rugged (it comes with hard plastic smooth wheels), so that I can use it outside in the garden and around our house. I'm thankful we live in a single floor ranch though!

I like the idea of sponge baths, using a fanny pack and backpack and paper plates! Thanks guys - keep the good ideas coming!
Wahine2012-06-02 08:21:12 +0000 #7

You've had a lot of good advice here. Definitely get a good back pack, that's a necessity. Definitely get a stool for showering etc.

You should have very good upper body strength from swimming and you might be a candidate of Lofstrand: crutches. The advantage of these is that you can let go of the crutches and use your hands a bit and the crutch stays attached to you via the cuff part. So you're not constantly messing with leaning the crutch on something while you use your hands. Imagine getting into your car. With traditional crutches, you would have to lean the crutch on your car, find you keys and open the door, hopefully your crutch has stayed leaning on the car and has not fallen away from you where now you have to hop over to get it... With Lofstrand crutches, the crutch would never leave your arm and they are easier to transport. The downside is that they are more energy intensive. So you might want a set of regular crutches to switch to on tired days.

The serving tray is a good idea but if you can get one of these: www.activelivingnow...._6_Wheels_p/r6bl.htm or these: new or used at an estate sale or on Craigslist, it would be really helpful around the house. Most Doc like the second option better because the walker automatically "brakes" when you put weight on it to move forward, so it's more idiot proof when it comes to walking non-weight bearing which you will have to do for some time. The fancy walkers use a hand controlled brake, so you have to be paying attention a bit better. The advantage of these over a serving tray is that it acts as your "crutches" as well as a way to transport things in the house. I have had patients set up a simple wheeled walker (option 2) with a tray that they attach all kinds of things to using bungees, like a laundry basket.

Being able to balance well on one leg is really important, so start practicing now.

And finally, most people that are on crutches and non-weight bearing for any length of time get really tight in their hip flexors from holding their leg up in front of them as they crutch. So try to mimic, normal walking motion with your injured leg even though you're not allowed to touch it to the ground. Here : is a good stretch that you can do for your hip flexors that doesn't require any weight bearing through the foot.

I hope that helps.
Pedal Wench2012-06-02 08:34:49 +0000 #8
Not much to add, but can you wear nice shorts? Given the situation, a relaxed dress-code might be in order. And I hate to say it, but would a wheelchair give you more mobility?



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