Hopping toward New Year’s on crutches

People my age shouldn’t use crutches. Guess I shouldn’t have left my late husband’s wheelchair at my father’s house in San Jose. I could sure use it now. But oh this is great material for a story.
What am I babbling about? I was mindlessly walking from the restroom at Georgie’s back to the bar where I was having lunch with a friend when I missed the step and turned my ankle big-time. I have been through a ridiculous number of sprains and broken bones on my feet and ankles, so I know the difference between a little ouch and an immediate trip to the ER. This was an ER event. I wasn’t even drinking. It was after church, and I was having iced tea and pot roast. This guy who was drinking at the bar was my only witness. He heard me yelp and asked if I was all right. I stood stunned, rubbing my foot through my boot and replied, “I don’t think so.” He went back to his drinking and was still at it when I hopped out. My friend, mesmerized by the ocean view, did not know anything had happened.
So, the ER waiting room at Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital (26 beds, tricky cases sent to other hospitals) was like a party. Yes, one guy was coughing, another was hurting, another had cut off part of his finger, but soon we were all talking as I waited in my wheelchair, all dressed up in my post-Christmas finery: black boots, green velvet skirt, green blouse, Christmas vest. They rolled me out for triage and for x-rays, then planted me on a gurney in a hallway because the place was slammed with patients. A couple hours later, I was out of there with a splint and the usual instructions for ice, elevation, and Ibuprofen. It’s a sprain, no broken bones. I now have a complete set of air splints.
At home, the challenges began. I could not put weight on my right foot at all. Too much pain. I had some old crutches in the closet. It takes coordination and upper body strength to maneuver on crutches. Suddenly it’s impossible to carry anything. In fact, right now, I’d like a cup of tea, but I don’t know how to get it to my bedroom. Cooking is a trip. I’m glad I’ve done yoga because now I need to balance on one foot and lean up or down to get things. I scoot plates and food along the counter until they’re close enough to the table to grab . At breakfast, I forgot the sharp knife and learned that it is possible to cut a large grapefruit with a butter knife if you’re determined enough. Getting dressed was challenging because most of my clothes live at the far end of the house from my bedroom. I wound up taking them off the hangers and throwing them across the room. A shower? Not happening.
I have fallen three times so far, but I have bounced and rolled off soft furniture each time. My crutches tend to fall down every time I set them anywhere. They hit the dog the last time, so now she’s not so sure about staying by my side.
Before you get all sorry for me, know that the doctor says I’ll be walking again by next week and the pain has already greatly diminished. It’s just inconvenient. It also forces me to ask for help, which I hate. Friends just brought me a load of pellets for my pellet stove, so I can keep warm. The dog sitter will be coming to walk Annie and do little things like get the mail from the box across the street. I am fortunate that I can still write and sing and play music. I can also drive, I discovered yesterday on the way home from the hospital. It felt so good to have wheels moving me along.
I will survive. But crutches are tough at any age. The doctor didn’t seem to consider whether I’d be able to manage crutches. My arms ache, my back is out of whack, and I get tired just going from bed to bathroom. Hoisting myself up the single step from the den takes a lot of strength. Okay, it’s another gift: weight training. But I’m measuring my moves in crutch miles.
I prayed hard last week that God would let me not get sick until after Christmas, no colds or anything that would prevent me from singing at church. My wish was granted. I sang my heart out. So this? Good one, God.
If you can walk on two feet, be thankful. If not, I share your frustration.
And I should probably stay out of bars. I don’t think these crutches or my shoulders could make it through another injury.

Author: Sue Fagalde Lick

writer/musician California native, Oregon resident Author of Freelancing for Newspapers, Shoes Full of Sand, Azorean Dreams, Stories Grandma Never Told, Childless by Marriage, and Up Beaver Creek. Most recently, I have published two poetry chapbooks, Gravel Road Ahead and The Widow at the Piano: Confessions of a Distracted Catholic. I have published hundreds of articles, plus essays, fiction and poetry. I'm also pretty good at singing and playing guitar and piano.

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