Crutch Etiquette for the Patient and Others

I have recently found myself in the unfortunate situation of having to use crutches – I broke my foot several weeks ago, and my finger a week before that – needless to say, the summer has gotten off to an unexpected start!

The injury happened on Memorial Day. My husband and my girlfriend immediately Googled my injury and decided it was only a contusion even though I was writhing with excruciating pain. Since Googling a medical condition is equal to having a medical degree there was no convincing them that my swollen foot was actually broken. I was secretly happy to miss the six hour wait in the ER waiting room, filled with inebriated people with boating injuries. Mine was also a boating injury, but not a drink of liquor had touched my heavily SPF’d 30 sun blocked lips. Turns out I didn’t need the sun block because I fell INTO the boat before we even took off – not a tan line in sight. In my defense the water was choppy, the boat was shaky and my aim was obviously not accurate.

Five weeks later I am finally able to put weight on my foot and I have developed some attractive arm muscles from using my crutches. My crutches are officially in the closet and I’m living the dream – slowly learning how to walk (in tennis shoes) again! I’ve had a bit of time on my hands so I would like to share a few of my personal “crutch etiquette” observations from the past few weeks:

Don’t point! You are less attractive (and quite irritating) when you point your crutch in the direction of something you are trying to request from the kitchen counter.  I have learned I need to be more concise when asking for one of my multiple vitamin bottles; projecting a crutch in the direction of my Vitamin B will not make the situation any better – for myself or my family.

Stay friendly. The first few days everyone was willing to help (except the two mentioned above who inaccurately diagnosed my ailment and will no longer get any attention in this blog for obvious reasons), but after the initial pity party, the phone calls waned and the food stopped coming.  It’s important to build relationships in the good times so that during the harder times you will have more options to fall back on. Fortunately for me, I have lots of friends and have been able to call in many favors due to my keen relationship building skills (yes, I am shameless and had no problem asking for comfort food when I was unable to walk or cook for myself).

 Sit tight. I was eating lunch with a friend a few weeks ago at a local restaurant and struggling to master the tiny little aisles that I had to travel to get to our booth. Two other restaurant customers had crutches and both of them had their crutches sticking out like oars in a row boat. It was dangerous for anyone passing by their table. When you are toting crutches, an oversized purse, shopping bags or other large objects, make yourself smaller by placing them in, under, or at the front desk until you need them again.

Keep your toes safe. I am the first to admit I was never sure footed on my crutches – wobbly would be a better description. It is in everyone’s best interest to keep their feet away from someone who is placing her entire body weight on two rubber-tipped sticks. There are so many things to be aware of, and the space and position of your feet is your responsibility as much as the crutch wearer’s.

Be positive. Even when everyone in your entire universe asks you every time they talk to you, “How’s your foot?” refrain from snapping “the same as yesterday, STILL BROKEN!” A broken bone does not heal overnight and keeping a cheerful attitude will go a long way in keeping those frozen casseroles coming.

Never, ever, park in the handicap space without a tag or if you are not truly in need.  No, of course I didn’t try! But I noticed plenty of people illegally parking their cars in those coveted spaces (I often wished I could have used one), hopping out, practically skipping to the door of Target while someone else (the real person that qualifies) waited in the car. Not fair – it’s not! Shame on you for lying if you are capable of sprinting to the door of your favorite big box store, or if you are using someone else’s sticker – tsk tsk tsk!

Don’t forget to say thank you. Everyone in the family is affected when mom “goes down.” Make sure and let your loved ones know how much you appreciate their help and support. My youngest daughter would jump to her feet every time she heard the dreadful sound of click click click from my crutches – fearful of my stair climbing skills. Now, it’s only a slight thump, thump, thump of my tennis shoes as I hobble along holding on to the furniture but she still perks up and asks if she can help. Thank you to all of my friends and family who have been so very kind and supportive! Especially you Emily Rose!

 

 

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Diane Gottsman

Diane Gottsman is a national modern manners and etiquette expert, sought out industry leader, accomplished speaker, Huffington Post blogger, author, and the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, a company specializing in executive leadership and etiquette training. Diane is routinely quoted in national and international media including The New York Times, The BBC, CNN, Bloomberg Business Week, Kiplinger’s, Huffington Post Canada, U.S. News and World Report, and Forbes. Her blog has been named by Forbes as one of “The 100 Best Websites for Women, 2013.” She is a regular guest on two popular morning talk shows, SA Living, NBC, and Good Day Austin, FOX. She has been seen on TODAY with KLG and Hoda, HLN Headline News, and CBS Sunday Morning. Her clients range from university students to Fortune 500 companies and her workshops cover topics ranging from tattoos in the workplace to technology at the dinner table and the proper use of social media.

Comments

  1. Diane says

    A sense of humor is the best kind of medicine! I’m glad you enjoyed the post

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