New York City, particularly Manhattan, is a public transportation and walker's haven and because of this, it is probably one of the worst places to have deal with a broken ankle and crutches. Granted, the doctors and hospitals are great but the public transportation is ill-fitting for those with handicaps or disabilities related to walking. Here are some things i learned while roaming (slowly) around the city on crutches to and from work.
Not all subway stops have elevators or escalators
And even if they do have elevators or escalators, there is a high chance that they are going to be 1) out of order or 2) filthy or 3) both. I had to do my research (http://web.mta.info/accessibility/stations.htm) prior to going anywhere to determine whether it would be worthwhile for me to attempt stairs while PWB (partial weight bearing) on crutches.
Women are more likely to offer you their seat on the subway
When I get on the subway car, it's usually a 50/50 toss up of whether there will be readily available seats and these chances are especially slim when commuting to work during rush hour. I've noticed that about 80% of the time, other women are more willing to offer me their seat whereas many men tend to avoid my gaze. I definitely try not to pressure anyone or ask anyone if I could take their seat as I am getting better bearing weight on my broken foot and feel like I need to practice. But it is a nice gesture when someone does offer and I appreciate it immensely.
Service like Uber and Lyft far surpass their yellow cab competitors
Since I live on a more residential street in the city, it is not so easy to flag down a yellow cab and so I find car sharing services such as Lyft and Uber to be much more convenient as they pick me up directly in front of my building. For some reason, Lyft drivers are the most accommodating and helpful, some even going out of their way to help me into their cars when I was in the earlier stages of recovery. (You don't know how hard it is to close and open a car door when NWB (non-weight bearing) until you have to do it.) Uber drivers generally try to get you as close to your destination's door as possible as well. Yellow cab drivers could not care less about your predicament and live up their reputation of being rude and offensive. I'm constantly rushed out of yellow cabs by the cab drivers who do not care that you are handicapped even if you explain or apologize.
Seamless and food delivery apps are blessings
Having no energy to cook or strength to purchase groceries, falling back on food delivery services was an incredible option to have and one of the greatest benefits of living in a place like NYC. I'm thankful that variety in my neighborhood is pretty good, however, the healthy options could have been better. I've used more than my fair share of Seamless, UberEats, GrubHub, and my favorite Vietnamese shop.
October 15, 2016
I went out for the first time on my own today! Took an Uber down to brunch on the UWS to meet a visiting friend from California. This helped cure some post-op blues and remind myself that life will continue past this injury.
October 28, 2016 - Post Op Followup #2
6 weeks post surgery and I have been cleared to bear weight! The doctor did not give me a detailed protocol but essentially said to bear weight as tolerated and to begin physical therapy as soon as possible. My dorsiflexion is currently terrible which gives me quite a limp as I walk around.
October 29, 2016 - Physical Therapy Session #1
November 1, 2016
This is my first day back in the office in the Financial District in Manhattan. I had forgotten how crazy the subways were during rush hour and unfortunately had someone step on on my foot while on the train. NYC subways are not the most ADA-accessible. Very few have working and clean elevators so I was forced to use the stairs climbing in and out of the subways.
November 5, 2016
I walked outside with just one crutch today to go to physical therapy! Managed to take the subway back just fine. 7 weeks post op and I'm feeling stronger every day. I have to be careful about over-exerting myself as a long day can lead to extreme swelling in my ankle. I find myself coming home after work and laying down straightaway for at least an hour. It will only get better in time. Stay positive folks!
I've had these burning questions on my mind since breaking my ankle -
Hi all, here is a photo progression of my post-surgery ankle, from the time I had my stitches in through several dressing changes and until now, where I can shower comfortably with both legs in the tub. These photos are not for the fainthearted who do not have the stomach for open wounds or anything resembling that nature. I personally find the images fascinating and wish I had become a dermatologist (maybe it's not too late?)
Proceed with caution!
4 weeks ago, I broke my ankle while rock-climbing. Over the past month, I found it extraordinarily helpful to read blogs of those who have also experienced ankle fractures and ankle surgery. While those blogs were part-consoling, part-unsettling, I had a need to understand timelines to get a better idea of what I will be doing, how I should be feeling at what point after my surgery. To help others in the future, here is my current ankle recovery timeline.
September 2, 2016 - Day of Injury
Broke my ankle while bouldering. For those who do not know, bouldering is essentially free-climbing "short" walls with no harnesses. On my last route of the night, I made it to the top, slipped and fell 10 feet, landing on my right foot, thus breaking my ankle in 3 places. I had a spiral fracture on my fibula, transverse fracture on my tibia, and a crack on the base of my fibula. After going to urgent care, I was sent home to rest before seeing my first doctor.
September 6, 2016
Saw my first orthopedic surgeon, who initially said that it looked like I would not need surgery but ended up referring me to a more experience surgeon for a second opinion. She was a great doctor, very easy to understand and explained everything thoroughly and I am glad she made the decision to refer me to another surgeon who specialized more in sports medicine.
September 9, 2016
I went to see my second orthopedic doctor who took a glance at my ankle, my x-rays and immediately determined that surgery was necessary, especially if I want to maintain my active lifestyle. I used my Google-fu to Google everything about this surgeon and was more than pleased about his lifetime of experience and education. It is extremely comforting when your doctor is confident and you have full confidence in him.
September 15, 2016 - Day of Surgery
I went into the NYU Langone Outpatient Surgery Center for my ORIF ankle surgery and left with 8 screws and 1 plate installed on my right ankle. At this point, I was extremely groggy from local anesthesia and could not feel my leg due to two nerve blocks. The apple juice and graham crackers tasted especially delicious and I could not understand why - perhaps it was the 14 hours of fasting or an effect of anesthesia?
September 16, 2016 - Worst Night of my Life
About 18 hours after my surgery, my leg started to feel tingly, which is an indication that I was beginning to regain feeling in my ankle. 2 hours after the tingling feeling began, I experienced the worst pain of my life. The nerve blocks wore off all at once and I was in excruciating pain for the next 2 hours while my prescription medications started to kick in. While going through forums to research this insane pain, I found that many women claimed that their ankle pain post-nerve block was far worse than childbirth! I could only describe it as someone cutting my leg open and lighting my foot on fire. (At least I now the cutting open part happened but apparently the burning feeling is your nerves re-communicating with your brain.) After this night, I became extremely adamant about taking my pain medication in the shortest time intervals allowed by my doctor.
September 18, 2016
The splint started bothering me by digging into the back of my calf. It turned out that there was not enough cotton padding between the plaster and my skin. My doctor's post-operative assistant instructed us to stuff more cotton to pad my skin against the plaster.
September 20, 2016
My lovely sister bought me a knee scooter, which helped immensely in my mobility around the home. I hope to use this outside once I start going into work again but will have a hard time transporting it up and down the stairs since my building does not have any elevator. It's nice to be able to brush my teeth without either sitting down or swaying precariously on one foot in front of the sink.
September 22, 2016
I returned to working from home today and feel very thankful that my job and team allow me to do a lot of my work remotely while I recover from my broken ankle. I now have spaces between my swollen toes again!
September 30, 2016 - Post-Op Followup #1
My splint and stitches were removed today! What a big day for me as the plaster digging into my skin was annoying and the pressure of the splint often kept me up at night. My doctor said I have 4 more non-weightbearing (NWB) weeks but can start flexing my foot and pointing my toes as an initial at-home exercise. My ankle feels quite stiff but I can flex it to a 90 degree angle! I was unable to do that prior to the surgery after my accident. Instead of a hard cast, I am back into my CAM boot which my doctor said was a treat in comparison to the hard cast since I can take my foot out to ice it, do my ankle exercises and best of all, WASH IT IN THE SHOWER!
October 2, 2016
It's been one full month since I broke my ankle now. It's been a frustrating month to say the least. Some of the easiest tasks of a normal person's day leave me out of breath and tired. I'm thankful for my sister and Andrew who came to help take care of me this past month. I will be on my own in a day and that terrifies me. Anyway, at my post-op follow up, they said I should change my bandages every 2 days. My wounds did not look so great today when we replaced the dressing so I decided not to wash my foot yet.
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