Yesterday, I went back to the office for the first time since breaking my ankle two and a half weeks ago. The plan was to pick up casual carpoolers and drive into San Francisco, parking on the street free all day with the help of my handicapped parking placard. It worked. I waited for riders for less than five minutes and there was minimal traffic into the City. I found a metered parking space a block and a half from my building and proceeded on crutches toward the office.
As I traveled, I made several observations about myself and others. I was not inclined to jaywalk. Normally, I dash across the street as soon as I see the slightest break in the flow of traffic. Not on crutches. On crutches I am slow, awkward, uncoordinated, and fear tripping and falling. So, there I stood at intersections, waiting for the light to change as all around me pedestrians dashed across the street against the light. But I sighed and waited. The other thing I discovered about myself was that on crutches I didn't just lose the use of a leg, but also of both hands. It's counter-intuitive but also obvious -- the hands are gripping the crutches. I turn around and lean against doors to open them, hopping backwards as they open further. Pulling them open is even more challenging: Grip a crutch in the armpit, grab the handle with the free hand while pulling and leaning back or hopping backwards. The door into my office building is quite heavy and opening it this way felt quite unsafe. I think I'll switch to using the freight elevator to get into the building.
(A side note about crutch use: for amusement only, I started swinging my bum leg forward, which I noticed resulted in mild exercise, longer strides, and faster pace.)
And I learned something about other people. People care. At least enough people care to make just a bit easier the life of a one-legged guy. People are opening doors for me. They step aside to give me room to walk by. They smile sympathetically. They ask how I am doing and how long I'll be on crutches, then shake their heads ruefully and wish me a full and speedy recovery. Makes this annoyance just a little less annoying.
I sat at the office with my leg up on my desk. I had to turn my torso a bit to the right to type, but this wasn't too awkward. I mouse left-handed and my desk leg was in the way, so I solved that by reaching under my leg to mouse. That worked better than reaching over. By mid-day, my leg started swelling a bit and I headed home. On the way to the car I encountered more nice people, including a FedEx driver who gruffly said: "Been there many times," as we passed each other. I nodded, not sure whether to interpret that as "I feel your pain" or "Buck up, no big deal, you'll get over it." Possibly, he intended it as both. When I got to the car, the leg was ready to go home. Being early afternoon, there was little traffic on City streets and the Bay Bridge and I made it home quickly and uneventfully. And though I've been working every day since I broke my leg, now I am really back at work.
Oh and today is sunny and gorgeous, 70-something windless degrees -- a perfect day for a bike ride.