I have it on good authority from an 18 month old friend of mine that crutches are evil and terrifying devices that are not to be trusted. After the last 4 days of self-torture I am inclined to agree, although I have to say that doorways scare me more.
Having broken or severely bruised my second metatarsal some months ago by attempting to rush through a doorway and missing, I have finally given in to the inevitable and spent this week lurching about on crutches to let my poor abused foot heal. It turns out that crutches are trickier than they look (no mean feat, because they look pretty darned tricky to me), and in swinging about my home, my workplace, and everywhere else I rush to in the course of a hectic working week, I seem to have pulled one of my pectoral muscles.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the delightful mechanics of elbow crutches, let me just say that there is one group of muscles particularly crucial to the use of these devices. This muscle group does not otherwise see a lot in the way of exercise. This group of muscles gets particularly vocal when you start asking them to take your whole body weight as you lurch about. In fact they get so vocal they scream abuse at you and threaten to call their union. If you pull one of them, getting about on elbow crutches becomes all but impossible. Pectoral muscles, meet evil weapons of torture otherwise known as crutches. Crutches, meet pecs. Lin, meet pain.
Today I went to visit a friend for coffee, and managed to wrestle my pecs into submission long enough to lurch from the car into the house, where my friends’ 18 month old twins reacted with utter horror. “What,” they wanted to know, “do you think you are bringing in to the sanctuary of our home? And for God’s sake WHY???” One of the twins merely regarded me with deep suspicion, but the other was intent on alerting the entire neighbourhood to the appalling evil of these creaky, clanking metal demons, and she howled vociferously until I laid the crutches aside and promised to keep them firmly under control.
She spent the rest of my visit as far away from me as she could get while still keeping a very wary eye on the demons – no longer howling, but quite prepared to sound the alarm if the crutches so much as wobbled. Sadly wobbling is what they do best, and when I picked them up to leave her worst fears were confirmed, and she cowered in the corner, screaming her poor little heart out. I could still hear her as I drove off. What a monster! How could I introduce such nightmarish devices into her home???
I have heard many alarming stories of crutch related drama since I began recklessly wielding them in public, but what amazes me even more than the prevalence of such tales is the number of people who relate horrifying encounters with far more dangerous foes. In admitting to the sadly foolish and graceless way I broke my toe, I have discovered that many people have similar sagas to share, and I have finally recognised the dangers we face in the home: Ferocious Furniture and Aggressive Architecture.
In our home we have largely subdued the ferocious furniture by dint of carefully padding all of the bits that might otherwise leap out and attack me, day or night. Unfortunately the aggressive architecture is much more difficult to control. Many years ago a wall attacked me so viciously that it nearly broke my nose. We subdued that particular bit of architecture thereafter by ripping it out and putting a staircase there – to serve as a perpetual reminder to other walls. Clearly, though, the walls have joined forces with the door frames to counter attack just when I think I am safe.
These fiendish allies, be they beds and door frames, or couches and walls, rely on our shame and embarrassment to avoid exposure. They destroy our self-esteem and consume our dignity, to ensure that we don’t tell each other about the attacks and so begin to piece together their dastardly plot to take over the world, one metatarsal at a time.
The only thing we can do to foil their plot is to make sure the world knows how very ferocious and aggressive our furniture and architecture really are. It’s time to fess up to our fractures and confess our contusions. So if you have ever survived such an attack, spread the word and say it with me, loud and proud: “I’m such a doofus.”