A couple of years ago I had a nasty accident whilst on an outdoor run. I managed to fall into quite a deep ditch and smashed my knee halfway down. Actually it could have been a lot worse if I hadn’t landed on my knee, as there was a lot further to fall, but it still meant that walking was going to be complicated for me in the coming months. I had actually sustained more than one injury to the area and, while none of them were as serious as other knee injuries can be, they did cause pain and severely restricted my mobility.
By coincidence, around the same time, one of my best friends was involved in a car accident which resulted in him having to have anterior cruciate ligament surgery. We started to swap tips as to how to deal with being immobile and little tricks for getting through every day.
One thing that most people don’t realise until they have a leg injury is how much control you lose over your hands. Yes, you read that right. When you can’t put pressure on one of your feet, you end up trying to support yourself with your hands, either with crutches or on railings, items of furniture and so on. It’s much better than trying to hop around the place on one foot, however. So the first lesson you can draw from this is that railings are excellent. It’s quite a task to put up your own railings when you’re supposed to be moving as little as possible in order to speed your recovery, so put them up before you need them. They’re really important in places like the bathroom and can prevent serious further accidents from happening, in addition to providing assistance to the elderly and infirm.
People with leg injuries find it difficult to sit down as they can’t support their body weight with one calf on one best leg. Again, railings come in handy here as the person will need to stop themselves from falling back. On a sofa it’s fine to put down cushions in order to reduce the fall, but real care must be taken if using higher chairs. In fact, just forget about higher chairs altogether until you’re better. If someone invites you to sit on one, just explain that you can’t. They will realise they might as well ask a fish to climb a tree and rectify their mistake.
Tall and low cupboards are extremely difficult to get to as you can’t climb up or squat down. Whenever possible, get someone to take out the whole contents of the cupboard and put them on a surface that you can reach easily. If the contents are unsuitable to be left out, for example medicines, replace the contents of another cupboard or drawer with them.
As you begin to get better, you’ll be encouraged to start becoming more mobile. There will even be days when you feel like you could start running – don’t. Even after a pain-free day, you may find the next day your body punishes you for doing too much. If you are going to start exercising, start with low-intensity swimming.
You may notice that nobody cares about your stupid leg and how much grief it is giving you. Some people will grumble as you dodder along, blocking their way, others will literally barge you out of the way. You could always make a scene about this, falling over and wailing to everyone about how they just shoulder-charged a cripple for no reason.
If possible, look into getting a hoverboard – they’re easier than you might think to use and give you the mobility and speed that you lack to get around. You will need to put some pressure on both legs, so this is not a solution for the early days of your recovery. However, it will help you get out and about much sooner than otherwise.
Whatever happens, don’t lose your sense of humour and good spirits. Keep doing upper body exercises to keep fit and work your heart and lungs. Appreciate the fact that you still have the use of your other limbs, you’re healthy and still living.