So last time I basically ended with me driving home from the hospital stretched out in the back seat of the compact rented car, completely unable to keep my eyes open. I was able to call my head coach and trainer, and they too were impressed by my sanity and clear-speech, although my voice was a bit messed up because of the intubation tube-induced sore throat. Once we got back to the house and I collapsed on the sofa that would become my home base for the weekend, I immediately asked for – you guessed it – a large glass of milk. I was very fortunate that the pain meds didn’t make me sick to my stomach, so I was able to eat all of the wonderful home cooking that the mom of the house placed in front of me. Then began the regimen of icing for 30 minutes every hour with this fantastic device called the GameReady. It consists of a metal box which you fill with ice water, plug into the wall, set to the desired pressure and time limit, and then turn on. It pumps ice water through a cloth hose into a wrap that goes around my leg from upper thigh to mid shin. The combined ice and pressure helps to relieve pain and keep the swelling down.
The days were super exciting, filled with multiple icings, eating fabulous food, watching and analyzing movies (don’t even get me started on The Day After Tomorrow), attempting to stay awake while doing homework (fail), and perilous trips to the bathroom. But the nights were even better. I would crutch over to the bottom of the stairs and stand there, frowning at the first step for 5 minutes, with my mom and the mom of the house standing on either side of me, ready for anything. Then I would kind of push down hesitantly on the crutches a couple times, still frowning. Next came the lunge forward and upward, planting my right foot solidly on the step, after which I would lose balance, drop the crutches and cling to the banister, panting and sweating. Then I would just slide backwards up the whole flight of stairs on my butt. When in doubt, just rely on your arms to get you where you need to go.
I don’t really want to talk about the pain, let’s just say for a week it was excruciating every time I changed leg position and blood rushed from one point to another.
Now for crutching adventure stories!! Just over a week after surgery, my fellow freshies and I got sick of being stuck on campus and spontaneously decided to hit the downtown. I was not about to be left behind. I did it – I crutched all over 16th street, crossing streets surrounded by my entourage of guardians screaming “We’ll take the car for you, Cassie!!” I don’t think I really talked that much, cuz I was too focused on breathing. We settled on a super nice restaurant, and I like to take credit for the fact that pity for me is what scored us a private room. I was still on pain meds at that point though, and I’ve been told that I was acting pretty hyper . . . haha.
Not long after that, one of the freshman, Alex, and I got stuck on the second floor of the Ritchie building because they had locked the elevators from going to ground level (where all the varsity locker rooms are.) That meant there was only one way to get down: the hundred or so stairs leading from the top of the Lacrosse/Soccer Stadium to ground level. Have I mentioned that stairs are my worst nightmare? I handed Alex my backpack and began psyching myself up for the journey while she hyperventilated. I tell you, if there is anything more stressful than crutching down stairs, it is helplessly watching someone else crutch down stairs. I took it slow, with Alex walking down in front with her arms spread out to catch me. She said, “In moments like these, I have cat-like reflexes!” Fortunately, she didn’t need to use them, and when we reached the bottom we both whooped and hollered for the whole block to hear.
Fast forward to last night. I’m a speed crutcher now, a pro at maneuvering, hopping, carrying things while crutching, and even passing the slow walkers who don’t appreciate their mobility. But, last night I was Skyping with my best friend and her brother, and I had my brace off so my leg could get some air. Suddenly a shrieking alarm went off, and all three of us jumped. They simultaneously asked, “Is that a fire alarm?” It most definitely was, and after signing off, the reality of what was about to occur slowly began to sink in. I strapped on my brace, slid on a shoe without tying it, and crutched out the door only to run into a soccer girl who took one look at me and breathed, “Ohhh no.” I just said, “Are we REALLY doing this right now??!!” I live on the seventh floor. She held open the door to the stairwell for me and followed close behind whimpering “Oh gosh I wish I could just give you a piggy back ride!” as I began my descent. I was moving pretty fast, but the stairwell wasn’t wide enough for anyone to walk next to me. I could feel the mass of people behind me – if it had actually been a fire, I would have been totally responsible for the deaths of everyone on the seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth floors. Comforting thought. I did trip five times, and every time I heard girls behind me gasping and stifling shrieks. When I made it to the bottom, we all poured out of the narrow stairwell and joined the mob outside. I was no longer in a very good mood, especially when someone threw out that they might not turn the elevators on for a while and I would have to crutch back up all seven flights as well. My arms and good leg were already shaking. Fortunately the elevators remained in service. Once the alarms went off, everyone began line up in front of the elevators. One boy who lived on the tenth floor said loudly, “Everyone who lives lower than the eighth floor needs to take the stairs.” I looked at him and said, “Seventh?” He grinned and said, “I’ll let you slide.” While 15 people piled into the elevator I felt a hand on my shoulder and turned around to see a classmate who I believe was slightly intoxicated (it was Thursday night after all, our party night.) “Hey Casey,” he smiled (it must be hard to remember people’s names when you’re drunk). “How’s it goin? How’re you doin?” I smiled back and said, “I just crutched down seven flights of stairs and I’m still alive. I’m doing great!”
While crutching stories are fun, I’m hoping I won’t have too many more of them. IF all goes well, I could be out of the leg brace and weaning off crutches this coming Monday – fingers crossed. If not, I’ll be ok. But there had better not be any more fire drills.
Hasta la vista,
(Originally posted 10/15/10)