Health care, disability & change


February 4th is when I slipped on ice and fractured my right ankle. Initially believing it to be badly sprained, I hobbled in to work and took some ibuprofen. Only after chewing upon, and eventually heeding some of my co-workers warnings did I seek medical attention after work where I was informed that my ankle was in fact, fractured.  I was given a splint and a pair of crutches and wheeled to the lobby to await a taxi.  A few days later, after recounting this tale to my orthopedist, he told me the obvious truth, their intention is to “treat and street” patients as soon as possible.

I’d gladly take the pain of falling over the burden of using crutches for 6-8 weeks any day.  Crutches. Did you know these damned things existed in the time of the ancient Egyptians?? Talk about outdated!  I really don’t understand why there isn’t something better out there which makes use of the strength of the upper, undamaged part of a person’s leg to bear the weight if the ankle or lower leg is damaged.  It seems silly to me not to use the strength of the upper leg if it’s intact, despite the damage to the ankle – hence something that hooks under the knee gently and makes contact with the ground would be how I’d start testing things. Also there are forearm crutches of different types, so why not play with different designs and see which best match given people and conditions instead of taking a one size fits all approach? Come on people this can’t be harder than putting a man on the moon…

Turns out there ARE at some alternatives to traditional crutches, whether one’s insurance pays for them or not-

See 1 or 2 or 3 .

I honestly don’t think Western medicine is very wise in the way they handle breaks and fractures. I don’t think a splint or cast should be slapped on anyone without first cleansing the area involved, and massaging it or placing ointments upon it. Shutting up a part of the body in the dark for months on end is not the best method of healing in my opinion. Sunlight and the human touch also have healing properties.

Let me just say that the psychological impact of an disabling injury is much bigger than the physical impact. My new, albeit, hopefully temporary disability forced me to change from a private and independent person into a somewhat dependent one with an obvious and very public injury.  The immediate difference I noticed was in how people treated me. Either people thought I was completely helpless or they walked and looked away from me as I hobbled near, as if my injury were contagious.  I have new-found empathy and respect for the disabled as it has become crystal clear just how much this colors every human interaction; at one point I imagined just the crutches marching along the street by themselves since I seemed to be invisible except for them.

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