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On how to survive with a broken foot

I’d been thinking a lot about this blog lately, my little lonely corner of the internet… It’s been a proper three years since I’ve written here, which at once seems insane and utterly and completely plausible. I had initially anticipated that our Big Move to Boston would lend itself to writing a lot more, documenting this new adventure and serving as an outlet for stress and homesickness or–let’s face it–the lack of a social life, as we were moving to the ‘burbs, where I didn’t know anybody.

In reality, moving to a new city is just plain hard. It’s especially hard when you’re dying a little inside, guys, I’ll be honest, because I was. I had been dealing with the loss of the organization I’d been working for and loving on for several years (which was a heartbreak that I still live with, all these years later), as well as leaving my family and friends, and trying pretty hard to get my health back. Times were a little rough, y’all.

But they worked out okay! And here in 2019, I have the amazing gift of time to tell me that the kids we worked with are great, and my former colleagues are great, and my family and friends and my health are all kickin’ along, just fine.

And we bought a house! There are days when I wonder that the whole damn thing doesn’t fall down around my ears, but it’s small and lovely and surrounded by quirky and loving neighbors. It came pre-loaded with a lot of To-Do Lists, though, and unfortunately, we didn’t quite get to one of them in the right amount of time.

This rat-bastard of a threshold has been in pretty rough shape since we moved in, but we did not expect one particular rainstorm to be The Last Straw. Which, of course, it was; slippery and no longer able to do its job, the damn thing dropped me as I stepped out of the house on Easter weekend. I stepped out my front door, and before I knew it, I was crumpled up in a sobbing ball on the landing. With a broken foot.

Can you believe I broke my foot??
I mean. Can you believe this?

Yup. I broke my foot.

And listen, y’all. That shizz hurts. Real bad, as it happens. And, as a non-weight-bearing injury, it requires a solid amount of accommodation, in terms of just getting around the house, day-by-day. Even when you’re lucky enough to be able to work from home (and, thank goodness, I am).

I turned to the internet for advice, and I honestly didn’t find too much of it. I mean, when it came to horror stories and/or forum threads in which the OP was told to “suck it up, princess,” there was plenty, but let’s face it, Armchair Warriors, your snark ain’t useful. (*sobs a little*)

So this is my attempt to fill in the blanks and create a list of things that were life-savers as I tried to live as normally as possible while also needing to keep my foot in the air most hours of the day.

Useful items for a broken foot (OR “What do I do with a broken foot?” OR “Oh holy god, what now?!“)

Full disclosure: You definitely don’t need to buy all of these products just because you have a broken foot in a cast; maybe you have a sock big enough to fit over your cast, for example. But I did buy them, and I handed over that payment info with a big fat “hooray!,” I’ll be honest. #noragrets

1: KNEE SCOOTER: This is the most expensive but biggest game-changer on this list. The doctor’s office sent me home with crutches, which are of course super helpful for a variety of scenarios, but trying to assemble a meal? Carry a drink from the fridge to the couch? Move around in general without sore armpits and palms? Not so much. This scooter let me get around my house (at least the first floor!) quickly and easily, and the basket is awesome for “carrying” things from one room to another. And bonus! You can add these handlebar tassels and some stickers to jazz it up. (Your foot hurts, man. Have some fun with it.)

2: RAMP: Listen, when The Dude first suggested a ramp, I guffawed. Heck, when he first suggested the knee scooter, I did the same thing. (I am not always the most logical of humans, friends, but thank god, I’m hanging out with the right partner.) He pointed out that we have a 2-inch step down from the kitchen into the living where I’d be spending most of my time, and how was I planning to deal with that? I may or may not have imagined myself just hoisting the scooter up and down while balancing on one foot every time I had to switch rooms, but I gave in and let him buy me this thing, which was been incredibly helpful and fun to roll down, too. (…What?) And bonus! It’s made for a venue and has cut-outs for cords to run underneath it, so when I start my long-awaited second career in a rock band, I’ll be able to use it again.

3: SHOWER BOOT COVER: At my doctor’s appointment, when the orthopedic put the cast on my leg, my very sweet boyfriend asked her, “Okay, but we should talk about, like, bathing and stuff.” At my look of utter horror, the doctor laughed and said, “No, they sell things now–” which I cut off to assure everyone in the room that I HAD ALREADY FIGURED THAT OUT, THANK YOU VERY MUCH, IT WAS ARRIVING ON TUESDAY, THERE WOULD NO LESS BATHING THAN HAD HAPPENED BEFORE. This makes that possible. Gone are the days of wrapping yourself up like a roast chicken breast, friends. If you buy nothing else on this list, buy this. Because a wet cast is an itchy cast is a smelly cast. And you’re gonna feel gross enough sitting on your bum for weeks on end, trust me. No need to add stench to the mix.

4: TOE COVER: My toes get cold pretty regularly, and if left unchecked, I get monster foot and leg cramps—a definite no-go when you’re stuck in a cast. So keeping my toes warm (especially throughout a damp, chilly Boston Springtime) was important. This toe cover was warm and fleecy, and it did the trick really well. I will say that I kept the strap as short as possible, and after a few weeks of daily use, the band around my heel began to stretch; it fell off a bit more often, and I had to keep trying to tighten it and then wrap it around itself to keep it secure. Still worth it, though.

5: CAST SOCK: See above, re: damp and chilly weather. My doctor suggested that I raid The Dude’s sock drawer for this one, but we couldn’t find a single sock that would fit over my cast. So I ordered this one, and I apparently didn’t read the description closely enough; while I was expecting a warm fuzzy sock (I love me some fuzzy socks, people), this was a Spandex/nylon blend, kind of like a bathing suit. It worked well on the rainy days I needed to leave the house, however, and is easily washable. Plus, it comes in a cheetah print, which—I’m truly sorry to say—is a way to get me to buy almost anything.

6: ELEVATION PILLOW: On the list of necessary purchases for coping with a broken foot, I’d put this pretty close to last—a stack of pillows worked very well for me for the majority of the time I needed to elevate. The exception was sleeping and watching tv in bed; I was just having a tough time figuring out how not to kick everything over in the middle of the night. In full disclosure, I never did manage to make the switch to sleeping on my back (#sidesleeperforlife), but I ended up carting this pillow to the couch with me and back to bed for tv-watching, and it was super comfortable. Also a good height; I have shorter legs, and I found that the first elevation pillow I tried was just too high, and it put too much pressure on my calf. The channel in this pillow solved that problem and also kept my leg from rolling onto its side. Warning: If you have cats, know that they will quickly claim this pillow, and they will look so darn cute that you will never have the heart to take it back from them.

7: ACE BANDAGE, ICE PACKS: I regularly used squishy ice packs to relieve swelling and pain at the end of the day, and I learned that cocooning them inside an ace bandage wrapped loosely around my leg was the best way to ensure they stayed where I wanted them.

8: Bonus! Shoe balancer: When you’re finally out of that cast and into a boot, your doctor will likely recommend that you wear a shoe with a heel to match the newfound height of your broken foot (oy). In a bout of particularly bad timing, I had cleaned out my closet just before I broke my foot, and the only heels I had were pumps for work–not a sensible boot or thick-soled sneaker in sight. This EVENup shoe balancer/leveler worked like a charm and was an easy on/off of my sneaker for the time period where I was increasing my walking time out of the boot, as well. I got stopped multiple times by random strangers saying, “I had no idea they made those! That’s genius! I wish I’d known about them when I was in a boot!” I mean. I’m just a maverick. What can I say? *brushes shoulders off* (Kiddingggg.)

Now, a few extras:

  • WW SUBSCRIPTION: This may not feel at all necessary for you, and awesome—you do you, bud. But I’d been wrestling with a few extra pounds before I broke my foot, and I realized pretty quickly that being home all day and bummed out was going to involve a lot of snacking before it involved any weight loss. Tracking my food with the WW app got me up and into the kitchen, cooking as much as I could and making more mindful choices about what I was using to fuel myself during the day. And if you’ve never signed up before or haven’t used the service in a long time, there’s always some kind of promotion you can take advantage of. *As a pro tip, though, I’ll be frank with you: I’ve used WW on and off over the years, and they can be a little tough to cancel with. So sign up with PayPal, and then, when you’re ready to cancel, make you sure you process your cancellation through the WW site first, and then cancel the merchant agreement through PayPal, as well. And then we have ourselves no surprises.
  • INSTACART: I am the primary meal planner and grocery shopper in my house, and it was pretty important to me to continue doing that. I’d used grocery delivery services like Peapod and PrimeNow before, and I really didn’t like them; Instacart has felt very different in that there’s another human just like me and not working for any particular store doing the shopping. Julia isn’t picking out crappy produce, because Julia knows she wouldn’t want to pay for the crappy produce, either. And when there have been mistakes or other minor issues, Instacart’s customer service has been awesome and super-simple. We subscribed to Instacart Express for two months ($9.99 per month), and it more than covered the delivery fees. It’s definitely a service I’ll continue to use once I’m fully mobile again, even sporadically or when we’re in a jam and just need a little extra help.
  • GAME APPS: You’re gonna get bored, man. Make sure you’ve got some solid game apps. Your mileage will vary, and all, but I spent plenty of time playing Yahtzee, doing the NYT Crossword puzzles, and scratching my interior design itch (we’re mid- home reno) with Design Home.

Most importantly, let people help you. I am the honest-to-god worst at asking for and accepting help, because I am stubborn as hell and refuse to admit that I can’t just do something myself. This is a waste of time. Your friends and loved ones are going to see you struggling, and they’re gonna feel bad, and they’re gonna want to help.

Let them.

Let them wash the dishes, let them stick food in your fridge, let them wipe down the kitchen counters, if they want to. If you’re like me, and you’re allergic to the idea of hiring a home cleaner because you do stuff like clean your hotel room FOR the maid—well, relax. You’re a little broken at the moment, and it’s fine. Call ‘em up. Let your person do a few loads of laundry or change the bedsheets. Say thanks, a lot, and appreciate your people, a lot.

And beyond anything else, remember that your body is doing its thing, and this will pass. And people can enjoy awesome experiences in life at every stage of mobility, and you can, too. So don’t beat yourself up for feeling depressed (and holy crow, did I feel depressed at times), but let it come and then let it go. You’ll be fine.

And you have a broken foot, so you get to pout and milk that shizz a little, so do it up.

Good luck!

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