I sprained my ankle last week. It will be fine, I think, but right now it looks like a watercolour seascape and it hurts all the time. So I’ve been using elbow crutches to give it a break, and here’s what I’ve found out…
1. Turns out the world is full of people using sticks, frames and crutches. We’re a sub-group only visible to each other, but we don’t acknowledge one other as we shuffle past in the street – we’re too busy trying not to think about the PAIN that each HORRIFYING STEP BRINGS. No wonder people don’t want to look, each downcast face says: “These are the steps that are taking us closer to DEATH”. Why hurry?
2. It makes you feel a tiny bit like you might be the centre of the universe. Then you realise that although this is an unusual situation for you, it’s not an unusual thing for anyone else in the world to see.
3. Coins and bottle tops are the most annoying things to drop, because they roll away.
4. If you’re using a crutch, you suddenly realise how much you needed both your hands to be in play at the same time. Wear things with pockets and never let anything out of your sight. If you’re using two crutches, god help you.
5. Walking with aid sounds like it should make things easier. Have a lovely rest! But the truth is that what the foot fails to do, the arm must do twice as hard.
6. …so stick hand gets stifff verry fasxt.
7. Sticks are fucking annoying when you’re sitting down on a crowded train. No time, or room, to disassemble – no room to leave it upright, nowhere to stash it. You end up tucking it in the crook of your arm and hunching it close, like a soldier in a helicopter holding their rifle.
8. You hate it, but you get very attached to your walking aid to the point that you can become surprisingly tense when someone moves it.
9. Speaking of tension, this kind of travel is not good for your posture. You’ll ache all over.
10. The ground in London is ludicrously uneven. Have you ever noticed how shiny-smooth the floor is in the Body Shop? You will have, if you’ve ever had a walking aid. Those bobbly things on the edge of pavements that are supposed to help blind people are the absolute bane of my life this week.
11. You learn to plan. Remember exactly what you want from the other room, it might take five minutes to get there and back again if you need something else.
12. It slows your life down and stops you doing unnecessary things, however enjoyable.
13. …so your garden will look very bad, very quickly.
14. It doesn’t just slow you down, humiliate and hurt you, walking also becomes a thing you have to think about. It’s been many, many years since I thought about walking, but here we are again.