- People are kind and generous. Accept help from friends, family and everyone else who offers it. You become reliant on other people. Simple tasks become herculean. For me, someone who is fiercely independent I have to admit that this was a refreshing experience. Saying yes please. Thank-you. Instead of the so often used, no thank-you I can manage on my own. Offers to bring me shopping, help wash my hair. Carry my bags. Drive me to places. Being together, being with other people makes you feel closer to them. I am eternally grateful for all the amazing people I have the pleasure of knowing in my life whether its for a fleeting moment of for a lifetime.
- There are people out there with feet fetishes. #Instagram #feet #feetporn . It all started innocently enough when I uploaded a photo of my leg in its cast while I was lazily lounging by the pool. I have never gotten the level of interaction and interest from a photo as I did for that one. Who knew?! Suddenly I was ‘making it’ and finding my 15 minutes of fame! So many people have been messaging me, asking how I am, keen to exchange stories of accidents and recovery. The kindness of strangers again. There is a real community and solidarity in the knowledge we are a not so unique bunch of accident prone plaster casts owners! What really surprised me though was as I exchanged messages of support with people in similar situations, the questions started getting more and more intimate. Asking me to send photos of my feet! Of my toes. To zoom in closer. Were my toes dried out?? No please a photo of the bottom of the feet! I recommend checking out @feetsoleimage or @lifewithcast on instagram and unite with your tribe!
- Attitude of gratitude. I am thankful for the friends and family who have been so generous, kind and supportive during my recovery. My Mr Spaghetti returned home from a business trip to great me in my plaster cast………with a wheelchair. One of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received from someone! Really! It meant we could go out together, do evening drinks, shopping and even road trips! Who says romance is dead? Wheelchairs are the new dozen roses! On a more serious note, as i was being pushed around in my chariot, I became hyper aware of wheelchairs everywhere. I hadn’t noticed that there were so many people needing help with their mobility. From elderly people too weak to walk long distances on their own, to people with broken bones. And yes young people who had no use of their legs through disability. It made me grateful on so many levels.
- Strangers want to reach out, talk and connect. Every day we go through life in our little bubbles. Focussed on our own plans, where we are going, who we are meeting. Even when we are alone we are glued to our screens not even looking where we are walking. So I found it incredibly refreshing that everywhere I went everyone wanted to speak to me. Having a leg in a cast was the ultimate ice breaker. It made me think that people genuinely want to reach out and connect with others. Care and kindness and curiosity in abundance. What normally stops this? Do we not know how to open conversations with strangers? Are we afraid? We are closed to others with invisible walls? Mental note to self. Reach out and connect more. Be more human.
- Patience. Patience. Patience.
- DIY solutions rock. Improvisation is key. First thing I realised whilst hobbling around on crutches is that it isn’t so much the lack of mobility. Ok its not easy to move (read: ‘hop like a drunk kangaroo’) from A to B for sure. And to begin with I was never blessed with the worlds greatest co-ordination (Zumba class still haunts me). What is really tough, is having both your hands occupied with your crutches.
- Dilemma number 1. How do I get my water / beer / wine / coffee into the living room so I can drink while sitting watching the TV? Solution: Have you ever seen a horse eating from a bag around its neck? Well this is easily adaptable for human use by placing required item into said sack and hanging it around your neck. Very comfortable carrying device, to be recommended also for normal humans.
- Dilemma 2: is similar – eating in front of the TV. Solution: Place meal on tray and push along the floor until you reach nearest soft cushioned landing pad also known as my sofa.
- Dilemma 3: Showering. This brings two problems. The first is obvious enough – plaster casts don’t mix well with water. Solution: Giant plastic bin bag and lots of scotch tape, until the professional alternative arrives. The second problem is finding the balance to stand perched on one leg long enough to wash hair and body without falling over and breaking your one good leg. This we solved by placing a giant can of paint in the shower and covered it with a plastic bag. No lack of prizes for sexiest spa atmosphere in our house!
- Dilemma 4: Surviving crutches without blistering my hands. Or that other curse of summer – sweaty hands – which makes grabbing a baby eel while covered in soap suds look positively easy compared to gripping crutches in 40 degree heat. Solution : cotton wool wrapped with medical tape (then quickly order a soft neoprene grip from Amazon).
- This crutch business is harder than it looks.
We’ve all seen young bouncy teenagers swing around on crutches like they were just playing in an tree canopy adventure park. In my naivety I thought in no time I would be just like them. Cool. Fast. Fit. No problem. Able to swing to the town center for a lazy breakfast and cappuccino or visit the hairdressers and be a lady of leisure while I was in my plaster cast. Little did I imagine that as someone approaching the end of her thirties, (which honestly is traumatic enough) would be hit with the stark realisation that flabby untoned underarm bats wings do not take kindly to suddenly having to support your entire body weight. Here is a video of Dergin Tokmak who is truely inspirational. Dergin contracted polio as a child which left him with limited use of his legs. This didn’t stop him. Look at this video and be inspired to be your best.
Personally I set myself little challenges. First taking the bin outside (100m), then making it to the icecream store (300m). At the beach, day one, just make it to the pool. Day 3 just a little further, make it to the sun umbrellas on the beach. Day 4, from the sun umbrella to the waterfront! Little rewards and little steps build up strength, independence and confidence. You can do it!
- Slow down, relax and take one step at a time. Our lives are soooooo connected. There is always somewhere to be, something to do, someway to connect. Constantly running from one place to another or searching for the next thing to do. Rarely do we have time to sit down relax, breath and just simply be. Having a broken ankle and limited mobility forces you to just sit. Take it easy. There is no running, no stress…..and absolutely no multitasking! Not that I had ever mastered it in any case! Just chill and do what makes you happy. Life is the little pleasures, the micro moments.
“Lord, give me coffee to change the things I can, and wine to accept the things I can’t” Or as we are in Italy in summer a refreshingly large glass of spritz will do nicely!
Let me know your summer tales of mishaps and adventures please in the comments below!