Wheelchair or crutches?
August 3, 2008 8:15 PM Subscribe
A distal fibula fracture will prevent me from bearing weight with my right leg for some six weeks. The E.R. sent me home with crutches, but I'm having such trouble with them (detailed within) that I'm thinking of asking for a wheelchair. Would anyone with wheelchair or crutch experience tell me whether these are abnormal and would improve in a wheelchair? Any other solutions?
posted by d. z. wang to Health & Fitness (16 answers total)
I'm fairly out of shape and having a lot of trouble going more than a block without pause, plus being cross-eyed means I have no depth perception and tend to snag the crutches. In four days I've outright fallen twice and nearly fallen too many times to count, particularly when fatigue makes me sloppy. I also can't carry anything, which is a big problem for someone who works in a biology lab, and with a normal fingers-wrapped-around-the-bar grip every step gives a moment of tingly numbness along the edge of my hand to the tip of my pinky. (Not asking for a diagnosis on that one; I'll see the doctor on Wednesday.) The reason I think this isn't supposed to happen is (1) it feels similar to what happens if I grip my bicycle the same way too long, and (2) it doesn't happen with my left hand.
The way I've been avoiding that grip is by turning my hand so the thumb is on the bar, but this is now making an odd soreness in the first joint of my thumb (the one buried in the flesh at the heel of the hand).
There's some tenderness where the top of my (armpit-style) crutches presses against my ribs, and of course lots of soreness in all the muscles, but these two feel par for course.
I've been very briefly in a wheelchair before so I realize that it won't make this all better. I'll still have as much trouble getting around, I won't be able to use staircases or hold open sprung doors for myself, and now both my legs would atrophy. But it'd at least be harder to fall out of a wheelchair, and I wouldn't hurt my wrist so much.
In addition, I could probably carry things in the seat next to me. The wheelchairs at my local hospital (the University of Chicago's in Hyde Park) all seem to be around a meter wide, maybe to give room for the nurses to reach in around the patient. That would let me work again, since I can stand on one foot or sit as needed to keep myself at the bench. It's just collecting all my reagents that's stopping me.
What does the hive mind think? I'm entirely open to alternatives, as long as they get me around and let me work again.
A bit about my work, in case someone has an alternative. I'm doing mostly molecular biology, so a lot of gathering things to one place and then putting them back when I'm done without contamination. That rules out any solution where I can't keep a flask steady or see it all the time, which is why I can't put a liter of bacteria in my backpack and bounce down the hall on crutches.