Breaking a leg, ankle or foot can be a major disruption to your life, at least for a few weeks. The inablilty to walk without the aid of crutches leaves you almost entirely dependent on others to get through your day. When both hands are needed to facilitate taking even a single step, a simple task like carrying a glass of water from the kitchen to your chair becomes impossible.
If it's the right leg you've injured, it can be even harder to cope, because you've temporarily lost the ability to drive. Whether you've got a job to get to, or children to drive to school, or just need to get out of the house, you're out of luck.
While your broken bone heals, there are a few things you can do ease the healing process and make you more comfortable. Here are some tips on ways to make your recovery time a little smoother:
1. Resting the Working Leg
While sitting with the injured leg elevated is usually recommended, there may be occasions when you need to stand for a few minutes at a time. But standing on one foot gets tiresome quickly, and you'll soon be looking for a way to give that good foot a rest.
A tall bar-type stool is a great support to keep nearby, especially in the kitchen. Sit or lean on the stool to take pressure off the weight-bearing foot. As the injured leg heals, you may also find it comfortable to rest it on the lower bar of the stool for even greater relief.
2. Using Crutches
Crutches can be awkward at first, but with a little perserverance and care, you'll soon master them. It's important that they're properly adjusted for your height; both the total height of the crutches and the hand grips are should be checked.
When you use crutches to walk, much of your weight will be carried on your hands. This can be painful just after one day, depending of course on how much you move around. Wearing fingerless bicycle gloves is a great way to prevent sore hands - the padding on the palms provides cushioning and comfort.
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3. Taking a Shower
Once an easy task, your usual shower routine becomes a challenge with a broken ankle. And it's even more difficult if you've had surgery or wear a cast.
If your doctor has fitted you with a removable air cast, getting your leg wet won't be an issue, but standing in the shower may be a challenge. Bring a plastic chair or stool into the shower, and sit or lean on it for balance. If you prefer a bath, just sit backwards on the edge of the bathtub and ease yourself down into the tub with your arms. You'll develop great upper body strength this way!
On the other hand, if your doctor has advised against getting your broken leg wet, a bath is probably out of the question. Don't worry, though - with the proper equipment, you can still shower. Just enclose your leg in a sturdy garbage bag and secure with a rubber band or duct tape. Or use a cast protector, a specially designed bag with a leak-proof gasket to keep the water out.
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4. Supporting the Knee
If you're required to wear a cast at night, whether it's a hard cast or a removable air cast, you may wake up with back pain. If this happens, it may help to support your knee while you're sleeping. A rolled blanket or small pillow placed under your knee can provide tremendous relief, though you may still be uncomfortable if you're used to sleeping on your side.
5. Asking for Help
I've listed several tips to remain as independent as possible, but there may be times when you can't do it all. Even if you're reluctant to ask, you'll often find people are very willing to help you out. Turn to friends and family and accept their offers!
In many cases, well-intentioned people extend vague offers: "Let me know if you need anything." If you know them well, take them up on it. Ask them to make a trip to the grocery store or drugstore, to pick your child up from his or her activity, or to walk the dog for you. People are usually only too glad to be able to do something that's appreciated.
6. Staying Positive
Immobility can be very frustrating, specially at the outset. Six weeks of recovery time may seem like an eternity when even a trip to the kitchen for a glass of water is a major chore, if not impossible. But it gets easier with every week. You get used to the crutches. You find things to do that you didn't have time for before.
When I broke my ankle, I was forced to opt out of events I'd like to have attended. Eating at a restaurant with my foot resting on the floor was, two weeks after the break, so uncomfortable that I opted not to do it again. But I also finished a couple books I had set aside, took up knitting again, and started writing.
Your broken bone will heal on its own, as long as you treat it right - but it's much more bearable if you can maintain a positive attitude!