I Walk... Like A Pirate
The iWalk 2.0
A Pirate's Life for Me
Life affords us so many opportunities, some of them chosen, but many of them are just dumped into our laps as a result of what some might call fate and others destiny. Perhaps it could also be called random chance. All I know is that if I had chosen to do things just a little differently on a certain day then a series of unfortunate events might not have unfolded in a particular way that ended up with my left foot suffering a 5th metatarsal mid-shaft oblique fracture. It is sufficient for most just to know I 'broke' my foot, but if you too are a traveler in life suffering from a similar fate then that long string of words about my left foot means something. What it means to me is a considerably longer than I wanted period of time pretty much living life stepping one foot forward and the other one not allowed to touch the ground.
Right now I will continue my story after my last appointment with the orthopedic surgeon having been told to stop weight bearing on my left foot for at least 3 weeks.
So, there I was, staring at my crutches and absolutely hating the idea of using them again. My first bout with them had lasted two weeks and brought on a list of complaints ranging from extreme fatigue to a serious neck pain remenicent of a whiplash injury I had received years ago.
Prior to my foot injury I never really thought much about walking. It was something I did and something that caused me seemingly no effort whatsoever. I could walk really fast, very smoothly, and with something akin to grace, if you ignored the slight 'skip' in my step.
Hopping, is a highly effortful, undignified and extremely inefficient method of locomotion that anyone who has done something dreadful to a foot knows about. Typically used only in the most dire of circumstances such as you absolutely have to get to a bathroom or you really need that snack.
Walking on crutches is just a faster way to hop walk with a slightly softer landing. Your effort level is practically the same only spread out over a longer time period. You will note the picture does not show arms because when you are using crutches, you can't use your arms for anything else.
My forecast stint on crutches was going to be longer than my previous encounter as I had just been told to keep weight off my broken left foot for at least three weeks this time. There was a strong potential of more weeks off it depending on how quickly the bone healed. Sitting on my bed after the orthopedist appointment and feeling a strong sense of dread, I suddenly remembered something I had seen on Amazon while shopping for my walking boot.
A walking boot is an interesting device that allows a user to walk in it without transfering full force into the arch of the foot. They mimic a regular walk with the grace and style that perfectly depicts the word 'galump'. I call mine the Franken-boot.
The iWALK 2.0
I am not an early adopter of fancy gadgetry. My aquisition of a smart phone was slow and skeptical and although there are people out there who resist technology more vigorously than me, I am frequently just ahead of the Luddites with certain things.
As I said, I was previously shopping for a walking boot in anticipation of rushing onto what I was certain to be a quick second stage of my foot recovery. Online shopping is a favorite past time of mine because not only can you find practically anything for what is often a lower price, you can also get product reviews at places like Amazon. I don't know about anyone else, but I can barely purchase anything these days without looking at what someone else has said about their purchase.
But anyway, aside from a false sense of rigorous research (turns out some reviews are fake... the horror) at Amazon there is also a section below what you are looking at that lists other things customers who purchased the item also viewed.
In addition to the walking boot, someone had also looked at this strange looking device called an iWALK 2.0 hands free crutch.
I mostly noted how happy the woman in the picture looked but since I was already planning my walking around in a boot phase of healing, I did not pay it much attention since I figured at most I had only another week on crutches.
Thankfully that memory stuck with me when I found out just what life had in store for me and the true duration of this healing journey I was on.
So, I got an iWALK (baum, baum, Baum...) thanks to some wonderful friends who insisted I should not live without it.
Be advised. One does not just step into an iWALK lightly. There is a very detailed method to putting it together and sizing it to your exact leg length, width and angle. It mangages to be both simple and complex at the same time. The company (iWALKfree) is marvelous in providing all sorts of detailed information in print and in videos. They are also available to talk to you directly in case you have questions or problems.
And yes, you will have questions. Most of these are answered in the handout they send with the iWALK. You will also come to understand what 'steep learning curve' actually means in a very practical and physical way. They seem to be very aware of the panic a person first feels when attempting to use the device and there are countless times they reassure you during the setup process and in the many videos provided by the website. They think you can even when you think you can't.
So, after a first few tottering steps it got a lot easier. Within my first 24 hours of use I was attending an outdoor festival. Mind you I was not as sure footed or fleet of foot as I wanted, but walking without a crutch I certainly was.
Walking with an iWALK is a modern day peg legged pirate sort of walk. The walk is not the same as your normal walk and takes on sort of a rolling gate as if on a ship at sea.
Here is the thing they don't quite convey. You are a walking spectacle. Everybody notices you. Nobody has ever seen one of these before. They will tell you this. In fact, you will be having all sorts of conversations with interested people wherever you go.
Here are their main questions I have fielded so far:
- "Doesn't it hurt your knee?" Not at all. You are actually resting your weight on the upper part of your shin in a way that keeps your knee joint from being compressed.
- "I thought you had your lower leg amputated at first!!!" While not actually a question it has come up more than once. I have learned to turn my leg a little sideways so a person does not see me the first time from the front.
- "I have never seen one of those. Where did you find that?" I had never seen one in real life before I got mine. I found mine on Amazon but you can also get them from the company website.
- "Isn't it hard to balance?" At first, absolutely, but then very quickly you get used to it. The less you think about it the better it gets.
- "Can anybody use that?" Not accourding to the website information. There are definitely height and weight limits. It also requires a certain ability to balance on one leg. They are very clear about who might not benefit from this device.
- "Are you going to be a pirate for Halloween?" Of course I am!
To be continued...
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