Friday, June 30, 2023

Am I the only person on crutches?

 Am I the only person on crutches? In three weeks on crutches I have only seen one other person - in the doctor’s office - on crutches. It’s not fair (whining).

Three weeks ago on 6/10 I fell on my injured hip (more of the history below) with all my 175 lbs. Oh, my. I was a half block from home and had to be picked up by car; I couldn’t walk. An hour plus in urgent care and (my blood pressure was 70/something) 5 1/2 in the ER. “Nothing broken; all the hardware is in the right place. It’s soft tissue damage and will (or should?) heal. My goal was to be mowing the lawn in a week. Ha!

The trip to doctor 10 days later was the one-year check on my knee replacement (pretty good) and I show up on crutches!

Yesterday after 19 days I was starting to go around the house using one crutch, which means 90% weight bearing and occasionally 100%. Two crutches when going places. And I am a semi invalid - long naps. But even with that progress my hip still says “uncomfortable" with every step!!. A few more days to walking. Current goal: mowing the lawn in a week.

History: In 2008 I fell riding my bicycle down a steep hill in the rain a few blocks east of Bill Gates’s office in Redmond (before he retired). I refused help from passersby, but it took me a few minutes to move my butt 3 feet to the curb so I accepted a ride to my car. Next to Evergreen Hospital. But when they saw I had smashed the acetabular (hip socket) they sent me to Harborview Hospital in Seattle. Waited a day in traction. 6-hour surgery. 6 days in the hospital. We hired a cabulance to get me home (“but your insurance won’t pay for it”). Then 7 days without leaving home. I was so weak that they didn’t put me on crutches, but I used a walker as crutches. I have never seen another person doing that. The walker is an amazing combination of light and strong, but it’s not designed to carry one’s weight. (I got excellent care at Harborview.)

Three months off work and 3 months on crutches, non-weight-bearing. When I returned to work I worked in the morning and slept in the afternoon. By Christmas that part-time schedule cost me 200 hours of work at my expense. After 5 months I quit making progress; surgeon didn’t believe me on my next check, but on the one after that he showed my on the X-ray that my injured side was 3/8 inch shorter. After 10 months to Valley General in Renton for full hip replacement. Another month off work and 2 months on crutches again. But this time I was 50% weight-bearing. It’s a big difference to be able to stand with weight evenly divided instead of the strong leg having to do all the work. Using crutches after hip replacement is unusual. It was because they did a bone graft. Another: Why didn’t they tell me before!?

Three months after the second surgery I gave up the cane and walked on my own. Maybe a month after that I realized that no one was noticing how I walked. I had no limp; didn’t expect that. That was a big victory!

I only worked another 6 months until I retired. Did no business trips those 6 months versus several per year. At that point Boeing had moved so much work to California that meetings that used to be a 15-mile drive became a 2-day trip.

For the 14 years since I have kept walking every day. I am slower and go at my own pace but am a little jealous of people who obviously are on longer walks. And I love to walk beaches which always are uneven and require more energy. Bonus: I saw three bald eagles across the street this morning. Two landed in a tree 200 feet away, but I failed to get a pic.

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