(8 November 2016 update: this post is still going strong and I'm still responding to comments you leave below.)
I decided that I should do a write-up about the whole broken foot ordeal for someone's use. So here you go. (This post is dedicated to my athletic trainer sister. After all, it is her birthday today.)
Twenty observations and tips for dealing with a broken foot/ankle and a cast on your foot/leg:
1. Don't listen to anyone who tells you that the time will go by fast. Six weeks in a cast will feel like seven years.
2. Healing a bone, fifth metatarsal or otherwise, is a lot of hard work and you will get super tired (bone tired, ha). Your first inclination will be to act like life is normal except for that small inconvenience on your leg, and then you will crash. Take it easy. Those kids who broke their foot or leg and still did everything back when you were in school? They had moms to drive them around all day.
3. Facebook is going to make you feel worse than you usually do when you see all the fun things other people are doing. Just a heads up.
4. Crutches are tools of the devil. They hurt your armpits, your sides (especially if you have an underwire), your hands, your wrists, your shoulders, and even the good foot to the point where it hurts more than the broken foot (in my case, anyway). (2016 note: just found out about this re-design that will hopefully make crutches much better.)
5. Wheelchairs: there are downers, but they are definitely the way to go (or you can use a rolling computer chair). Look on Freecycle and tell everyone you know that you are looking for one to borrow. Sure, they have horrible back support, and you or whoever is steering will bang up the walls and doorways, but you will save both of your feet and your sanity once you get over the fact that people will think you're a wuss and that you should just use crutches. Also, your seated legs will become a shopping cart/carrier much more easily than crutches will, even with a bag.
You will learn just how cruel the world is to people in wheelchairs, especially in San Francisco. An apartment building may have an elevator, but there's a step to get into the building. Public transportation may have elevators, but they're often out of order and what are you supposed to do once you get there? Sure you can get into the church, but this will become threatening:
6. Some people will be nicer to you because of your injury. Some will completely ignore you because of it.
7. Piggy back rides are not as passive as they look. Holding your weight onto someone is very tiring and quite the workout for both people, but at least you can get around where wheelchairs are impractical.
8. Stock up on the least-smelly Icy Hot and painkillers and ice and heat packs. Your whole body is going to hurt as you compensate. Slather on the icy hot, don't forget the ibuprofen every six hours (actually, you'll notice when it's almost time anyway) and the acetaminophen in the hours in between. Use ice and heat packs, depending on what each area needs. Sometimes I had heat on one foot, ice on the other, ice on my knee, and heat on my back.
9. Make a mountain of pillows and blankets for elevation. It may be uncomfortable and really painful for your back, but it gives the swelling in your foot a break each night. Oh, P.S. good luck sleeping, especially with the cramps and shooting pain you'll have at first. I have to add, though, that if you're trying really hard to avoid getting a cast like I was, forget about it and just get it. The stable support will make staying asleep so much easier.
10. Have people around you who are willing to jimmy-rig things to help you avoid pain. Your foot is going to be really tender and falling off the footrest will hurt like the dickens. Also, if you have an old-school plaster of paris cast, you will leave behind white chunks everywhere you go.
11. No one will like your injury story, so start making things up--the more grandiose, the better. This makes for hilarious situations where you say you were playing soccer and someone answers, "At least you weren't walking to work or something" . . . uh, yeah. Landing a jump off El Capitan is a better story.
12. Forget all the garbage-bag-on-your-cast-for-showering stuff. I sat on a picnic cooler in the tub, and put my casted leg on a higher stool outside of the tub. Again, this will be hard on your back. Shower quickly. The stool will also be good for leaning on to get in and out of the bathroom and for sitting on while brushing teeth or blow-drying hair or putting on makeup.
13. Get over the fact that you will be wearing the same frumpy things every day. Until I discovered a random pair of too-big capris last week, I wore leggings with a dress/skirt/long shirt or knee-length yoga pants every day. It gets really old, especially when you have mint skinny jeans to long for. I probably should have gotten some cargo shorts so I could carry stuff around with me.
14. Ignore medical warnings not to put anything pointy in your cast. Those medical professionals don't know the desperate itchiness that goes on in there. While a hanger does an okay job at scratching, a mylar balloon stick will give you relief like nothing you've ever known. Until it breaks. Resting your leg on the air register in the car also has nice effects.
If you forget your balloon-stick-itcher-thingy when you go out to eat, you're just going to have to eat dinner without your knife or chopstick. If you're judging me for saying that, you have never been in a cast or you've forgotten how it is.
15. Every drink or food will have to go in a closeable container if you want to carry it somewhere.
16. Keep your itching stick, your chapstick, your eye drops, your meds, your water bottle, your book, your phone, your tissue, and anything else you might need in the same place and with you at all times.
17. Once you stop hurting everywhere, you will want to get some exercise. I embarrassed myself just for you (or you can just look at my list of on-the-bed exercises in my description here):
18. Get someone to take you outside at least once a day. Looking out the window is not enough.
19. Don't put weight on that broken foot until the pain is achy and not stabbing.
20. If you need to take a flight somewhere while casted, beware. Both of your feet are going to swell up to the size of Canada and they will THROB LIKE THERE'S NO TOMORROW.
Now I will answer the questions I had before getting the cast:
"Won't that thing be heavy and further hurt my knee?"
Yes, and your hip. And every other joint in your body--at least at first. You'll get used to it.
"Won't I have one wimpy leg when it's off?"
"Won't it get stinky?"
Yes. And your toes will be all cracked and peeling and absolutely itchy and disgusting.
"How will I shower?"
See #12 above.
"Don't casts make your skin all flaky in there?"
"How in the world am I supposed to go hiking this summer?"
You're not. Find a nature reserve that has a paved pathway. Then find someone willing to take you there and push your wheelchair on that paved pathway.
"I'm still not going to be able to sleep, am I?"
As mentioned, you'll still have a hard time falling asleep, but you'll stay asleep better because of the stability of the cast.
"Will I be able to wear anything besides a skirt or dress every day?"
Not really, and even then you're going to have to wear leggings so you don't flash people all the time, at least until you find that pair of too-big capris that fit over your cast. Guys, good luck. Sweats? Cargo shorts?
La la la. Maybe some day someone will thank me.
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