Just Don’t Trip On My Crutches!

It’s funny how something so useful can cause so many problems. From the very first time I used a pair of crutches I have constantly found myself faced with the dilemma of what to do with them when they are not in use.

I feel trapped when not having my crutches at arm’s reach, and at the same time I certainly don’t want someone to get by injured tripping on them. Hence the dilemma of where do I stow the crutches?

Cartoon byhttp://leifhyuga.deviantart.com/

Cartoon by http://leifhyuga.deviantart.com/

I will start off this tale of woe by stating that when nature calls, I don’t want to have to ask somebody to fetch me my crutches. Certainly, during times I was non-weight-bearing on my leg for healing purposes I needed my crutches available at all times, however they now provide me the necessary support needed for walking and, like your best buddies, the comfort of having them available at all times is priceless. When you require crutches to walk they are your legs, and without them you are rendered immobile. Therefore whether I am sitting on my couch, at work, in a restaurant or on an airplane, I want my crutches at arm’s reach at all times. Asking for someone to get you your legs (crutches) every time you need to move is a demoralizing experience.

Seems pretty simple right? Unfortunately these wonderful devices that allow me to walk and give me freedom can be unruly little buggers when not attached to my arms. They can’t stand on their own; when leaning against a wall they tend to fall over at the touch of a feather, they trip people up when lying on the floor, and the lack the ability to walk on their own. It is for these reasons that keeping them at arm’s reach can often be difficult. Let’s not forget those extremely helpful people who say “let me take your crutches for you” and then stash them out of the way as if they were your coat. This isn’t so helpful when you realize you are the only one left behind and your crutches are being held hostage on the other side of the room. Somehow, they always forget to return the crutches to you before they leave.

My crutches 10 seconds after settling down at the Ice Cream Shope.

My crutches 10 seconds after sitting down at the Ice Cream Shope.

When dining out I am always looking for that perfect spot to stow my crutches. The table in the corner where I can safely stash the crutches is my best hope. A booth works well too, but most times I am at the mercy of the available table. The available tables are often close together, and floating in the center of the floor, so if I lean the crutches against a chair or the table they end up in the way or simply crashing to the floor. If I lay them on the floor I am always in a panic that someone will trip on them. I would hate for someone to have to explain to their friends that they broke their leg falling over some guy’s crutches; a pretty ironic way to break a leg. Either way my buddies ultimately end up in someone’s way or where I can’t reach them.

Movie theaters and auditoriums are always a “double-decker treat” for me. With three kids I find myself in the school auditorium more times than I can count. The “double decker treat” – not so much – is really a two-fold headache because I require an aisle seat for easier access and so I can rest my leg in the aisle. With no movable joints in my lower leg having it crammed into those tight theater rows becomes so painful that I would end up passing out after ten minutes. So I settle into my aisle seat, and tuck my crutches down tightly alongside the seat in the aisle. This never fails: even with the whole aisle wide open the first person that comes in somehow becomes a magnet to my crutches and catches their toe on them. If I lay them down on the floor in front of the seats, every time someone needs to climb in or out of the row, they are tripping over my crutches. Then I get the “oh you’re on crutches, I feel so bad making you move” routine as they flash me the sad pathetic puppy dog face.

Crutch Stand by Thomas Fettermen - great product for home, but difficult to travel with.

Crutch Stand by Thomas Fettermen – great product for home, but difficult to travel with.

Meetings at work take place in a conference room. Typical to most conference rooms there is a large table surrounded by chairs and little room to walk around the perimeter. Once again if I lean the crutches up against the wall behind my chair, every time someone walks by the crutches topple to the floor. If I lay them on the floor, even if they are tucked under the table, someone, somehow always ends up tripping on them. The thing that makes these situations most uncomfortable is that people become overly apologetic about accidently knocking them over. They react as if they just knocked over a sacred artifact at the Smithsonian. It’s only crutches people! Pick them up and move on!

Then there is the dreaded airplane, where the tools you need to walk somehow become weapons of mass destruction. I have actually had to convince a flight attendant that I was not going to use my crutches to stage a hijacking. When you get on an airplane with crutches, after you sit the attendant comes by, takes your crutches from you and then stows them in an overhead compartment – which is usually about twenty seats from yours. Once the plane is loaded your crutches become buried under several trunks: “excuse me, I guess people call them carry-ons.” So good luck if you need to use the bathroom during the flight, and once you land you’re at the mercy of the passengers unearthing your crutches and getting them passed over everyone’s heads to you. While this is happening everyone who handles your crutches is yelling “who needs their crutches?” and everyone you’re blocking while waiting for your crutches is yelling “move it buddy!”

So after a few plane travels with crutches I purchased a pair of folding forearm crutches with plans to fold and put them in my carry-on, then stow under the seat once seated. Upon entering the plane the (not so) helpful flight attendant explained to me that she will have to take my crutches and store them in the closet at the front of the plane. I explained that I preferred to keep my crutches with me and planned to fold them and place them in my carry-on, and then moved on down the aisle to my seat which was near the back of the plane. Just before the plane was ready to take off the crutch-Nazi attendant arrived to retrieve my crutches. Once again, I explained that they were safely in my carry-on and I preferred to keep them with me. She then says, “Sir you cannot keep them with you because once in the air you might use them as weapons.” At this point another passenger listening to this craziness came to my rescue and told her she could not take someone’s crutches away from them. She finally backed off and my crutches remained safely with me until the plane landed. While the folding crutches worked great for stowing in my bag on the plane, they were flimsy and unstable for walking so I discarded them. I’ve ultimately resolved to sucking it up and having my crutches held hostage, buried deep within a faraway overhead compartment.

This is just a small sampling of the most popular places keeping your crutches safely with you can be difficult, and trust me, there are many more. I will end my tale by saying that if I had a nickel for every time I retrieved my crutches after having them fall to the floor or having to move them out of someone’s way, I would be a rich man. My crutches are my best buddies, but as you can see even the best of friends can get on your nerves from time to time.

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About Darryl Partridge

I am a husband, father of three and amputee. I was active all my life, a Certified Ski Instructor, DYI enthusiast and Elementary Special Education Teacher. My life came crashing down when I was 42 years old after suffering a life changing ankle injury. I endured six ankle surgeries that forever changed the anatomy of my lower left leg, ten leg casts, recovery time on crutches that added up in the years and debilitating pain. In the end wound up with a deformed lower leg, chronic pain and unable to walk without crutches. Oh yeah, I also lost my teaching job after the third surgery. Being left a 47 year old unemployed disabled father. I took two years to rebuilt my life using crutches full time, achieving a new career in public health and preparing to amputate my leg. I amputated my lower left leg 9/24/14, 15 months post amputation became a NASM Certified Personal Trainer. Follow me on my life without limits journey as an amputee. I now hope my stories will help others find some support and comfort in living with their disabilities. Explore my website Lifebeyond4limbs.com .com to read my story.
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