August 7th, 2014

me at star

Musings on disability

About a month ago, I slipped and fell, landing with my left leg folded underneath me. At the time, I thought I'd probably sprained my knee; however, when it still hurt a week and a half later, I went to see my primary care physician, who immediately referred me to an orthopedic surgeon. Turns out I had ruptured my left quadriceps tendon. Ow.

I'm going in for a surgical repair tomorrow morning. (The original 10:30 AM start time has been pushed back to 12:30, for reasons not as yet explained to me.) The doc says the odds are extremely good that I'll recover full strength and range-of-motion, although that recovery will likely take six months or so.

Right now, though, I can't extend my left leg below the knee. I can't push off on that left leg, unless I've locked the knee or have the knee locked in a brace of some kind. I can go up and down stairs - slowly, and deliberately - as long as I do all the lifting / lowering of my weight on my right leg. If I have to walk any distance without a handrail in reach, I need to use a walking stick to keep my balance. And, after the surgery, I'll be on crutches for some not-yet-known period of time.

That last bit qualifies me for a Massachusetts handicap placard (since I can't walk more than two hundred feet without an assistive device). It's a definitely mixed feeling, having one of those. I certainly don't like needing one of them, but I'm grateful that they're available and that I'll be able to legitimately use HP parking while I'm hobbling along on crutches.

I'm even more grateful, though, that this is going to be a temporary deal. I find myself with a new understanding of what some of my less-than-perfectly-mobile friends have to put up with on a daily basis. Which, frankly, sucks; the Americans with Disabilities Act notwithstanding. Don't get me wrong; the fact that new construction has to be ADA-compliant means that most of the places I need to go can be accessed without having to climb stairs or step over high thresholds (which are the things I have had the most trouble with so far). OTOH, not every place has power-opening doors (which will be more of an issue on crutches, I suspect), and many of the accessible ramps are out of the way in annoying manners.

Originally posted at - comment wherever you please.