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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Hillsboro, OR
    Posts
    5,050

    Foot surgery - lots of crutch-time

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    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. http://www.orthoinfo.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00162 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!
    My new non-farm blog: Finding Freedom

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Beautiful NW or Left Coast
    Posts
    5,645
    I am so sorry to hear about your foot! what a bummer. Can't you get a scooter?
    I like Bikes - Mimi
    Watercolor Blog

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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    212
    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!
    JEAN

    2011 Specialized Ruby Elite - carbon fiber go-fast bike
    DiamondBack Expert - steel road bike
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    6,132
    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.
    Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

    --Mary Anne Radmacher

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,827
    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!!!!!!!
    Last edited by ny biker; 03-08-2012 at 11:51 AM.

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Hillsboro, OR
    Posts
    5,050
    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!
    My new non-farm blog: Finding Freedom

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Columbia River Gorge
    Posts
    3,583
    ((((GLC))))

    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 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.
    Living life like there's no tomorrow.

    http://gorgebikefitter.com/


    2007 Look Dura Ace
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    2,617
    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?
    For 3 days, I get to part of a thousand other journeys.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Folsom CA
    Posts
    5,672
    Oh nooo! Get well soon.

    2009 Lynskey R230 Houseblend - Brooks Team Pro
    2007 Rivendell Bleriot - Rivet Pearl

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,827
    While I was at my parents' house, we arranged it so I could stay on one floor only. I slept in a room on the main floor that used to be my grandmother's bedroom, rather than in my old room upstairs. So if you could arrange to spend most of your time at home in a limited area, that would be help. Once some time has passed after the surgery and you're feeling stronger, you can expand into other parts of the house.

    As for clothing, wear what you have to at work. They should understand if you need to ignore the dress code for a while. I've seen several co-workers at various jobs wearing more casual clothes than normal due to a temporary health situation. It's better for them to have you there in shorts or sweatpants than for you to be unable to work at all.

    BTW, your brain will need time to recover from the anesthesia. I remember months after surgery I looked over some spreadsheets I had worked on at my parents' house, and I found a bunch of stupid errors. At the time I worked on them, I thought I was fine, but in retrospect I was not firing on all cylinders.

    For housework, could you hire a cleaning service to help out for a few months? Or maybe find a teenager from the neighborhood to help a few hours a week with things like laundry and vacuuming?

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
    - Red Trek 6000 mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver Trek 2000 road bike
    - Two awesome and worn out Juliana saddles

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Hillsboro, OR
    Posts
    5,050
    I should mention that even though my surgery isn't until next week, I'm non-weight bearing on that foot now due to the injury. I also have to keep it highly elevated to reduce swelling before the surgery. And I'm allowed ZERO pain killers from now until surgery day.

    Thanks, Cassie!

    Those crutches look very interesting. I definitely have the UB strength and I expect it to only get better as this goes on. I might have to see if my doc will issue me a pair of those so that I don't have to buy them!

    I'm already noticing the weird feeling in my hipflexors. On the leg that I stand on, it starts to ache. On the leg I'm holding up (I hold it behind me, holding it in front of me actually makes the foot hurt for some reason), it gets tight. I'm constantly stretching that leg out behind me while I'm standing still during the day.

    Sitting with my leg so high in the air is also doing a number on me already. I ache in all sorts of weird places! Every morning is a new learning experience...where do I hurt today?

    I've taken to wearing light, thin sports bras because my regular bras were causing rubbing under my arm pits. But, that area is already toughening up as are my palms.
    My new non-farm blog: Finding Freedom

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Hillsboro, OR
    Posts
    5,050
    Quote Originally Posted by ny biker View Post
    For housework, could you hire a cleaning service to help out for a few months? Or maybe find a teenager from the neighborhood to help a few hours a week with things like laundry and vacuuming?
    I wish! We live out in the country and have no neighbors. And we never hired a cleaning lady a few years ago when we really needed it because no one would come all the way out here.

    My husband has been really, really good about helping out...so we'll manage. I'm just fiercely independent, so it's killing me to have to be so reliant on everyone else!

    Ooh, yoga pants. I have yoga pants that are all black...I could totally wear those to work! Thanks for suggesting sweat pants, that's what reminded me!
    My new non-farm blog: Finding Freedom

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    494
    I am so sorry!

    While I was non-weight bearing after breaking my first, second and third metatarsals, I did get the knee scooter and used it on the first floor of my house. If I was going somewhere where there was a lot of area to cover (like the grocery store or my son's school) I would get my husband or son to load it in the car for me. I could have probably done it, but it is fairly heavy. It was a life saver, though.

    When I was using my crutches, I had a bag I hung around my neck to put stuff in. Also, get food and drinks in small single serve containers. You can't get a gallon of milk out of the fridge, but you can put a small bottle/container of milk in some type of bag you can carry over your shoulder or around your neck. Likewise, it is hard to make a sandwich, but if you can get someone to make some in advance for you, or get some microwaveable meals then you can manage that.

    I was lucky enough not to have to drive during the first few weeks after my accident. I know it was not wise, but after a few weeks I did drive with my right foot, but I don't recommend it, especially for any long distance. I only did very short trips. I have heard there is some type of adapter you can get to allow you to drive with your right foot, but didn't look into it myself.

    I borrowed a shower chair and recommend that highly. You can back up to it while it is in a tub or shower, prop your crutches against the wall, and it is very stable while you sit down on it. I then had a regular chair in my bathroom with everything I needed to get ready right there. Once I went downstairs, that was it for the day. I didn't come back up again until bedtime.

    It sucks, but you will get through it. Good luck!


    Grits

    2010 Trek 5.2 Madone WSD, SI Diva Gel Flow
    2002 Terry Classic, Terry Liberator

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Traveling Nomad
    Posts
    6,636
    When I was non-weight-bearing for 8 weeks after fracturing my pelvis, I used a walker. My DH made a simple tray for it out of household materials he had around in the garage, and it enabled me to make my own meals and carry stuff from place to place in our house. We had a 2-story house, so I was limited to downstairs until I learned to butt-scoot up and down stairs!

    I was extremely lucky as my manager allowed me to work from home, first part-time, then full-time, until I came back into the office at 9 weeks when I was cleared for driving. That meant that the physical therapist came to my home, I could rest or nap when needed, and I didn't have to dress nicely! Doesn't sound like you will have that option. I was on full pay with our company's short-term disability for the first six weeks and only started working from home part-time the last two weeks of that time period. Does your company have any short-term disability policy? If so, it surely seems like not being able to drive would fully qualify you for it. I can't imagine they'd require you to come back to work immediately after surgery when you probably need to be resting and doing PT as I did.

    After my six weeks, my disability would have changed over to long-term at just 60% of my salary, so I worked full-time from home after that until I could go into the office.

    I only used crutches for a couple of weeks and hated them! After getting used to a wheelchair and a walker, I found them scary and hard to maneuver. I was always scared I'd fall over backwards! By the time I went back to work, I stopped using crutches completely and just limped. That gradually stopped as well.

    I surely do wish you well! As you're now realizing, your athletic schedule is the least of your worries at this point, as mine was too. I was injured while on a training ride for a spring century. Needless to say, that year's training went out the window, though I did manage a 50-mile event in the fall!

    Good luck!
    Emily

    2011 Jamis Dakar XC "Toto" - Selle Italia Ldy Gel Flow
    2007 Trek Pilot 5.0 WSD "Gloria" - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow
    2004 Bike Friday Petite Pocket Crusoe - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    206
    My husband spent 20 weeks on crutches after breaking his heel a few years ago. Here's my list of tips and tricks:

    Follow your doctors' and PTs' instructions to the letter. You will reap rewards in terms of a faster, easier and more complete recovery.

    Get someone to commit to stay home with you for a day or two after surgery until you have demonstrated that you can go to the bathroom by yourself. Pain meds + crutches are a bad combo.

    More on pain meds: Pick up a bottle of Senocot or similar while you're at the pharmacy.

    Find out what you need to get a disabled parking permit. You'll probably need a doctor's note/prescription. The nurse at your ortho's is a good person to ask. We picked up a form at the doctor's office and after that it took 10 minutes at the county office (Texas). Try not to cry when you see how long it's good for.

    Making the move to a wheelchair might be hard mentally for you, but if your spouse suggests it, *please* rent one to supplement crutches. It will make his life so much easier if he doesn't need to pre-plan every outing around uneven surfaces, very close parking and strangers bumping into you.

    Use a travel mug or Tupperware container and a sling bag for beverages and soup.

    See if you can arrange the kitchen so that you can easily prepare simple meals for yourself. If you put the cereal/oatmeal and some spoons right next to the fridge, you can manage your own breakfast. This can help make you more independent.

    Get a shower chair and a showerhead with an extension hose. Showerheads are super easy to swap out - PM me if you want detailed instructions. If you can fix a flat on your bike, you can install a new showerhead.

    Have your husband go to Target/Wally World/wherever for some cheap pillows to prop your leg up on after surgery, so you don't have to worry about leaking fluids onto anything you care about.

 

 

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