If you have a broken ankle, broken leg or broken foot, chances are it’s a new experience — and you can use some helpful tips to make life as easy as possible during your recovery.
Here are some things I discovered (the hard way) when I broke my right foot shortly after my son left for college and was living alone for the first time in my life, with the nearest relative 350 miles away…
- If you go to the emergency room and get an x-ray and the doctor says you don’t have a broken bone, but it still hurts days afterwards, go to an orthopedic specialist ASAP. (This happened to me, which is why my recovery took four months. Thank God I went to my family doctor for another issue and mentioned my foot was killing me; she thought it was broken and got me into an ortho specialist who confirmed it was so badly broken it needed a pin to re-attach the bone – see the “after surgery” xray below!)
- Even if you’re fiercely independent, you’re going to have to ask for some help — especially if you break your right leg or foot and have to go to work. Remember all the times you got by on your own without anyone’s help to make it more tolerable… 🙂 And if friends and co-workers offer to provide meals, take them up on it!
- If you have a two-story house, get two pairs of crutches — one for the ground floor and one to keep at the top of the stairs for the second floor.
- It’s not much fun, but you can climb the steps backwards on your rear end — or forward on your knees; however, don’t even think about doing that while carrying a pair of crutches. (You might want to limit yourself to one trip in the morning and one trip in the evening to gather clothes and shoe(s), and get ready for work and bed.)
- You’ll probably get the first set of crutches from your doctor — and they’ll be covered by insurance — but you can pick up a second pair inexpensively from a thrift store. (I’ve never been to a thrift store in my life that didn’t have at least one pair of crutches for sale!)
- Don’t let someone else adjust your crutches! I was getting along fine until a well-meaning male friend at work insisted that my crutches were the wrong height and took them to “adjust them and help me.” They cut into my armpits so badly that I got a huge blister under each arm and had to wrap layers of towels — over a Kotex maxi pad — on the armrest of my crutches as cushions during the two weeks it took to heal (after I finally lowered the crutches to where they’d been to begin with). It was a painful learning experience…
- If your bedroom’s on the second floor and you have a sleeper sofa on the first, consider making that your bed temporarily. An extremely kind friend from work took her lunch hour and brought me the mattress from her living room couch to stack on top of the one on mine, which made the couch much, much more comfortable as a bed.
- When you’re using crutches or a boot and/or a scooter or wheelchair, you’ll learn a lot about mankind. Most people are extremely kind and go out of their way to help you, but a few will let the door slam on you…
- You may find it eye-opening that the building where you work and the places you go aren’t handicap-accessible. There was no push button for the women’s restroom in one building at work, and I had to ask men quite a few times to open the heavy door to let me in. (Although it may be embarrassing or annoying at the time, it’s a valuable experience that enables you to develop compassion and empathize with people who have permanent disabilities the rest of your life. See “Two Tough Situations that Everyone Should Experience to Develop Compassion and Build Empathy.”)
- Ask for a handicapped parking space at work; most companies provide spots near the door if you request it and provide a doctor’s note. You may also need to enter the building through a designated door that requires an entrance code or card if you work in a secure environment like a government building; ask about that, too.
- Put your gym membership on hold while you’re out of commission; no sense paying for something you don’t use, and most gyms will extend your membership.
- You can’t weigh yourself with a broken ankle, leg or foot. I weigh myself every day and exercise a lot, and was worried about gaining a lot of weight and getting out of shape during recovery. If you watch your portions and continue to exercise at home by making some modifications, it’ll work out fine. (I used to lift weights and do upper-body workouts while standing with one knee on a piano bench; you just have to be creative! And when you are able to work with a boot on the injured foot, the “good” leg will get a lot of use!)
- When you get your cast removed, the leg that wasn’t used much may be noticeably thinner (or less muscular) than the leg that you continued to use. Don’t worry, because in a few weeks they’ll “match” again!
- If you can’t drive, check into using Uber or another ride-sharing service to get to work, and also investigate whether transportation is available for people with temporary or permanent disabilities, through programs such as Tel-A-Ride or van pools. Other ideas: advertise on a work or church bulletin board for someone willing to drive you to work, pass the word among friends or think about inviting a relative to visit and drive you.
- Investigate and use grocery delivery services if they’re available in your area.
- Try to look at the whole experience as an adventure. Take photos of silly things that happen, make a “broken leg” scrapbook (mine was called Endless Summer since I couldn’t walk from May – September) and laugh about the crazy situations you get into. Ask a friend to take you for a one-foot pedicure. And bask in the kindness of friends, family and strangers. With luck, it’ll be a once-in-a-lifetime event and you’ll be back on both feet soon!
Related blog posts:
- Sinus Surgery: What to Expect
- Carpal Tunnel Surgery
- Two Tough Situations that Everyone Should Experience to Develop Compassion and Build Empathy
- Unforgettable for all the Wrong Reasons
- Dumb Mistakes – Part 2
- Cringe-Worthy Household Mistakes and Lessons I Learned the Hard Way
- More Embarrassing Stories: #4 in what Looks like a Series…
- Embarrassing Mistakes: #5 in What Seem to Be a Series
- Embarrassing Mistakes: #6 in a Series
You make having a broken bone very entertaining!
It’s one of those things that’s better in hindsight…
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I love these tips!!! Ive done or at least thought about a few of these things in the past week since I’ve broken my leg. Think you for this blog!
Thank you for stopping by! I wrote this because I wish I’d known them before breaking my foot!
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Awesome post. This post is very useful. Thanks for sharing this information.
This is the first positive post I have seen about how to deal with a broken foot! I am just about to finish week two and the depression hit today. But I found a really good book and decided I was going to fight it! LOL It definitely is life-changing and quite debilitating but I just keep thinking it is short term and others have it so much worse. Having the scooter is a lifesaver. My goal is to learn how to drive with my left foot in the next couple of days just so I can get out of the house for a while. Thanks for your article. it was very fun.
Thank you so much for your nice comment! Staying at home a lot more than usual is a killer!! Good luck with the left-footed driving — and I hope your broken foot heals soon.
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Thank you for sharing this! Many of these tips I haven’t seen anywhere else! I’m a busy mom of three boys and a student coming up on finals and broke my leg pretty badly day before yesterday. We are also moving in a few weeks and I have been putting off packing until I’m done with the semester. So it’s going to be an adventurous summer! All my house projects and other things I had planned are on hold and I’m going to be lucky to finish out the semester well!
Best of luck with the broken leg and all the things you have going on!