Thursday, December 26, 2013

Thoughts on a broken foot, crutches and casts.

I broke my foot Sept. 12, is known as a Jones fracture...the 5th metatarsal bone..or pinkie toe bone.
 This was the second time I broke this same bone, but this time it was a much bigger break. I was lucky enough to have surgery a week after the break. I got 2 screws put in the bone in an outpatient procedure.

I got a splint for 3 weeks, then a fiberglass cast for 3 weeks, and then a Maxtrax walking cast for 3 more weeks.

I use crutches instead of a wheelchair or a knee walker. Crutches are ideal if  you have lots of stairs to navigate, narrow halls and crowded buildings. Crutches come with some drawbacks though.

You are essentially walking on your hands with crutches, that and your good foot. You will be putting  much more stress on these 3 parts of your body than normal.

I continue to overdo it, and I suffer the consequences: swollen, achy hands and foot.
Today I am sacked out on the couch trying to rest my hands.

Many people commiserated with me and offered me solutions to sore armpits caused by crutches. If your armpits are sore then your crutches are too long. They should be a  good 3 inches or so from your armpits. They will rub against the side of your torso, and give you calluses maybe, but they shouldn't make you sore.

The most annoying thing about crutches is they are designed to fall over once you put them aside.
They will inevitably find their way to floor, despite your best efforts to secure them in their upright and locked position.

I bet there would be a lot of money for whoever finds a way to make them stay where you put them.

Your Good Foot
You will soon find out which shoes need to be tossed out once you put much of your weigh on one foot.
I ended up rotating between several different athletic shoes that were pretty new. It becomes very important that your good foot get plenty of cushioning and support.

When I first started using crutches I wore an old flip flop on my good foot, it was fine for a few days but not for any length of time. I am still sticking with a rotation of Nike, New Balance, Adidas and Puma.
I do not care if they are appropriate for work or not.

The Stairs
There are a couple ways to navigate stairs. The first, (and safest) is to go up and down the stairs on your rear end. The only drawback is carpeting and/or dog/cat fur sticking to you clothes. The other way is hopping on your good foot. I chose the latter but it may not be ideal to put that kind of stress on your one good foot/knee.

The ease or difficulty of this depends on what type of tub or shower you have. I had a claw foot tub, which made showering next to impossible. Instead I took baths while dangling my cast foot over the side. At one point I duct taped a garbage bag over my leg and took a shower at my sister-in-laws house. That proved to be tricky to remove, and kind of wasteful. There are several companies that make cast covers like DryCast. I did not use one, but if you have a step-in shower that may be the route to go.

Learn from my mistakes and try to avoid exercise that involves your crutches. I did a lot of walking around with my crutches and now I regret it. I put way too much strain on my hands. There are some excellent videos for exercising with a broken foot like Michelle Glausers workout.

The MaxTrax Aircast
I am now wearing a walking cast. The nurse fit it to me, but I really wasn't paying too much attention, because when I went to put it back on the next day, I couldn't figure out how it worked. This is why it's good to take photos of the cast before you remove it for the night. Then you can figure out the correct way to reinstall your foot in it the next day.

There seem to be many different brands of air casts, the Maxtrax is a bit more complicated then others I have seen.

Got a truck? If you do then you have hit the proverbial broken foot jackpot.
A truck is the easiest automobile to get in and out of, because it is higher than most cars, so you don't have to bend down to get in, or clutch the side of the door to get out. A van might also be good....or an SUV...whatever is higher than the average sedan.
I am currently driving a Volvo wagon, which is passable, but it's a hassle to get the crutches to go in the back seat. A truck is also good because you can chuck the crutches in the truck bed.

You're Not Outta the Woods Yet, or Once the AirCast comes off
I had visions of being wobbily for a few days...maybe a week and then being back to my normal self.
haaaa...its now 3 weeks since I got my cast off, and I still limp depending on the time of day, or how long I have been sitting etc.

The first thing I noticed was that my leg was pretty ankle looked like it belonged to a very skinny 5 year old. And then the swelling started. My lower leg was like a squishy TemperPedic to poke, but also unnerving.

Its been 10 weeks now since the AirCast came off and I recall something someone said to me before my cast was removed: "If the offer you physical therapy, take it."
Truer words were never spoken. Walking is not exactly like riding a bicycle. you kind of do forget. At least your foot forgets. I spend a significant amount of time figuring out how my good foot is behaving and trying to follow suit with my bad foot. You actually spend much of your time on the ball of your foot normally.
I initially could stand on my tip toes, but I could not walk that way. My bad foot would fall flat every time I tried to put weight on it to push off.
I tried to compensate for the weakness in my foot and ankle by walking flat footed, but this put strain on my knee which is now often in pain.
Climbing steps is the most difficult task, but ironically it also seems to be the best opportunity for strengthening and building flexibility in my foot.
Even though it initially seemed counter-intuitive, trying to walk normally, and not compensating at all for the weakness of my bad foot has been the best therapy of all