10 Things I Learned from a Week on Crutches

Freshman year. A trying time, with a mixture of figuring out who you are, who you want to be, and where you are headed next. My first semester of college was interesting to say the least and I really found out a lot about myself, however with the second semester came new experiences, one of which I would come to find would change my perceptions of both my campus and myself entirely.

It’s a Saturday morning and I’m taking a shower to wash away the sweat and angst of the night before, when my knee dislocates (lol thanks bad genetics) as it does every so often, causing me to collapse. My leg is in excruciating pain, and my ankle is bleeding. I hobble my way back to my room, and text my friends to try and get some help, as I have no clue where to go from here. It’s a Saturday. The Health Center is closed. I can’t put any weight on my right leg.

After calling Campus Safety I roll up to the KAC (Kenyon Athletic Center) and see the weekend trainers, who inform me that three of the ligaments in my right ankle have been severely sprained. From taking a shower. Go figure. They give me a bag of ice, wrap my ankle, hand me a pair of crutches that would later be named Eleanor and Tina, and send me on my way. I was on those crutches for exactly one week, and here are 10 things that I came to learn…

 

1. My friends and everyone in this community are so much better than I ever realized.

I seriously don’t think I could have survived that week without the amazing people I both knew and came to know in the Gambier community. From my friends who carried me up the stairs of Gund residence hall, the ones that showed up with food so I wouldn’t have to go to Peirce or if I did have to go the friends who carried my food for me, to the stranger with the dog who offered to keep me company as I walked (or attempted to) to class. Strangers would stop and ask if I was alright or needed help, friends carried my backpack, texted me to make sure I was alright, and just genuinely stood by my side when I couldn’t stand myself.

 

2. I am so much stronger than I ever knew.

No, I’m not physically strong as shown by my struggle to even hobble 5 feet without needing to take a break (shoutout to that trip to the VI that took me literally 40 minutes). But mentally, I was kicking-ass. Being on crutches was one of the most physically and mentally exhausting things I have ever had to do in my life, simple tasks like opening drawers, putting on clothes, or taking a shower took so much more work than I was ever used to. Through struggling through my daily activities I learned that I could handle the challenge, I could handle and in fact wanted to keep doing this independently. I found it frustrating when those around me wanted me to just sit back and let them do things for me, I wanted to be in on the action! Those moments made me realize that my independence, although compromised, was more intact than it had ever been.

3. The servery is not very accessible.

No seriously, you don’t realize this until you can’t walk without two metal poles holding you up, but Peirce servery isn’t friendly to those in need of assistance in the least. I hadn’t noticed this before, but with the crutches came the realization that I couldn’t carry my plate let alone scoop food onto it, and get it to a table all on my own. Getting a drink? There was usually ice or water around the machines which led to slipping or my crutches flailing out to the side, which meant I usually had to either go with someone to the servery or have them just get food for me. It honestly makes you feel like an inconvenience or a burden. I truly sympathize with those who have to deal with this struggle permanently.

4. Kenyon College needs to improve its general accessibility.  

As previously mentioned I live in Gund Residence Hall, where to even access the first floor you must scale three stairs, and I live on the second floor. A lot more steps. This made me realize, that most dorm buildings are only accessible if you enter certain doorways or live distances from central campus. In addition, those dorm buildings don’t have handicap buttons for opening doorways, most likely due to k-card access, but perhaps a system could be put in place to make buttons with that access connected? Kenyon’s campus is considered a “walking campus” which is beautiful in theory, but when there is ice on the ground I found even if areas had been plowed I still would have to struggle with my crutches sliding or my one steady leg slipping. It became annoying to have to call Campus Safety (despite them being true gems) to get rides everywhere, or to be scared of taking showers because my dorm doesn’t even have a handicap accessible shower where I could have sat down to prevent further damage. These are all concerns I would really like to talk to someone further about, to help people who have future accidents or are considering/already at Kenyon with a disability. The problem was something I hadn’t really noticed prior to my accident, but with it surfaced and a pressing issue for me, I realized just how prominent the issue was. It is so much worse than I had ever realized as a fully capable young freshman coming into Kenyon, but now realize that it needs to be addressed in a way that makes Kenyon take ownership for their students with disabilities or handicaps.

 

5. Stairs are actually so scary.

Just seriously, no. Petition for there to be elevators in every dorm building?

 

6. My fear of elevators is probably irrational.

Follow up, maybe there should be escalators in all the dorms instead? But really, that week I went in so many elevators on campus and it made me realize that perhaps my fear is a little irrational, because a lot of those elevators (especially the one in the library...yikes) are old and sketchy, and I still didn’t get trapped in any!

7. Handicap buttons and bathroom stalls should be used as such.

Listen, I know we’ve all been there, I myself have too. We get lazy with opening the doors and we hit the handicap button, or we see the biggest stall is open in the bathroom and go for that one because it’s just roomier. But I’m so serious when I say I am going to stop that from now on. Those handicap buttons? They break so easily, they need to be in good working order for the people who actually need them! In addition, it was always really inconvenient when I would walk into a bathroom, completely vacant but the only stall taken was the handicap one...taken by someone who was neither injured nor handicapped. The regular bathroom stalls are really too small for crutches let alone if someone was in a wheelchair, so let’s leave those open for people who could really use them. It’s just common courtesy! :)

 

8. Strangers in a small town are always willing to help you.

Make fun of rural Ohio and the tiny town we call the bier’ but when push comes to shove the people in this little town always have your back. So many people I didn’t even know offered to help me during my week on crutches, from helping me get up the icy steps of Rosse to bringing me a bagel to class to offering me rides, these people were by my side the whole time.

 

9. Some people won’t even notice you’re injured

I’m so serious. People I saw every day didn’t even realize I had two new metal bff’s by my side, and honestly sometimes that was really nice.

 

10. My bed might just be my favorite place on campus

If I didn’t know it before, I knew it all too well after. My bed got me through so much that week, from icing and elevating, to Netflix and naps, my bed helped me recover and relax from a week I will probably never forget.

 

So yeah, that week was what I considered hell at the moment. But looking back, I realize it really brought me a perception on both myself, my community, and my campus that I had never seen before and I don’t know if I would have without this experience. I guess everything really does happen for a reason.

 

Image Credit: Feature, 1, 2