January 5th, 2014

Cone of Tragedy

In which Pooh Bear throws down his crutches and says rude words indeed

I have spent a week and a half now on crutches and it has been both an illuminating and aggravating experience. The fun part is that getting around with a cast on is like constantly playing a game of The Floor Is Lava For Just One Foot. My hopping skill is steadily increasing and my balance on one foot has certainly improved. So far I haven't fallen over, but my crutches have. Multiple times.

They have this habit of falling when you lean 'em up against the wall, see, and it's ironic that the very things what keep me upright and mobile are the same things which can't stand up on their own while stationary--and that's after you make very sure they are leaning well enough against the wall to have some kind of angular bracing and you've kept a careful eye on them for half a minute afterward just to make sure they're not trying anything funny. But much to my constant consternation, these crafty little motherscratchers have an amazing sense of comic timing heretofore unseen in any other household object save the set of keys which hide themselves in plain sight until it ceases to be funny and you're nearly late for your bus. I mean you can lean the crutches against the wall, make sure they're supported well enough to withstand even a minor earthquake, sit down and go about your business, and then just as your guard is lowered and you've forgotten all about 'em, one decides to take the topple. There's the agonizing sound of the inevitable: a whisper of aluminum against painted wall, and by this point you're so fed up with this nonsense that you don't even bother trying to grab for the damn thing. Of course it's falling, you think. Let it hit the floor for all I care.

So the damn thing noisily hits the floor, with the familiar metal clank-crash accompanied by the dull thud of the rubber armpit not-rest. But it's not over yet. No, the movement of this falling crutch was just enough to jostle the second crutch and send it toppling towards a similar fate. Right on cue. Every. Single. Time. Oh, it is to gnash. So I've taken to carefully laying the crafty bastards on the floor when I don't need them. It works reasonably well and lo, there's the illumination, there's some enlightenment. I am learning things! Hooray!

In spite of gravity still having its silly little way with my crutches from time to time, things are progressing well. I've gotten the hang of walking around, I can walk at and slow down from a reasonable pace on flat ground, and I'm developing several gaits for my different characters onstage. The big challenge is building up my stamina on the crutches since I can still only stay upright and moving for much less time than I am used to. Today Sonya and I went in to Porter Square by way of the 96 bus, which picks us up at one of the closest bus stops to the house. It's roughly two blocks away and I decided to walk it.

It is, of course, the absolute worst time of year to have to get around on crutches, especially since we had Halfasnowapocalypse a few days back. It was warm enough to thaw and even dry up a bit today, which was lucky, and Sonya's advance scouting provided effective reports on icy sidewalk conditions ahead. I was happy to discover the crutches did reasonably well on hardpack snow and they sound pretty cool, too. A lovely dry squinching sound resonates through the hollow aluminum frames. Slush has to be vaulted over, and that's one of the more dangerous movements I can make on these things. All you had to do was find another spot if the landing pad looks icy. No problem this time around. But by the time we got to the bus stop, a mere roughly-two blocks away, I was exhausted and sweaty under my winter coats. It's a lot of physical exertion, a lot more than I expected. We ended up taking a taxi home from Porter after we finished having an evening there.

Another exercise I am half-heartedly enjoying is the constant balancing on my good foot. The balancing itself is fine, and I'm developing the skill of using my cast as a counterbalance and soon enough it should hopefully resemble instinct. Standing around on the one foot for too long, even if I'm supporting myself on crutches, can get painful to the point of cramping up. This ain't ideal. I'd like to see some improvements soon, but I bet my stamina will increase only slightly so I won't notice until one day when I suddenly realize I've been on one foot for seventy-two hours. I really hope my range improves soon because to be honest I really hate having such a limited range. I'm not sure how I'm going to make it to the Factory from the T stop, even though it's only a few blocks away. There's no cab fare tree in the backyard and even if there were, it probably wouldn't bloom in the snow.

The biggest frustration involving crutches, besides the fact that they keep fucking falling down, is that you can't carry nearly anything unless you're wearing a backpack or dangling a bag from around your wrist or having big pockets or keeping a stash in your shoe or something. I've been able to hold small books in a hand which still tenuously grasps the crutch, but that's about it. Forget hopping around with dishes. If Sonya's not around to help me with my plates, I eat in the kitchen where I can at least slide things along the counter. O if only the architect of this house had had foresight enough and lined the corridors with cafeteria rails! Then I could move everything as I pleased. Alas. I am grateful to have someone around to help me out, but not being able to do the simplest things gets aggravating. I have, however, gotten good at washing dishes while resting my right knee on a chair, so I'm not completely useless at chores. Just don't ask me to bring the soup bowl into the dining room.

So the moral of the story is that people on buses who give up seats for people on crutches are very very nice, and more people should be that nice.

Your pal,
Hopalong Spatchity