Three weeks on crutches and I am so annoyed by not being able to walk without them yet that I’m about to go out of my mind. This is what my brother and I used to call the “couch grouch” stage of recovery. It is no fun for anyone. Just as well that Ron has meetings all day and into the night for the next few days, and that most of my local friends are similarly busy with big events on campus.
It’s exhausting to walk with crutches. I keep hoping that I am at least developing big biceps, or something. Monday night I walked what felt like the length of a football field to get to symphony rehearsal, and by the time I got to my seat and got the violin out, my arms were trembling and so tired that it was hard to play.
Everyone has been so helpful and sympathetic and I feel ungratefully irritable at continuing to have to ask for help with the essentials, while I sit around and watch the plants go unwatered because I can’t carry the can and it’s not that important to water the last of the mums before frost comes, anyway.
Walking anywhere with crutches becomes a performance, like in John Sutherland’s poem “Convalescent:”
His first steps echoed his plans perfectly.
Exactly when his shadow nudged the door
The trees’ applause began; beside the drive
The martial pines stood stiffly at attention.
Later there was the moment when he posed
Gazing into the river. In that hush
The sky flexed like a shutter; like a lens
The water clutched at his undying image.
But heavy, even as he climbed the hill,
Tugging at progress like a regal train,
The hard road twisted heaving after him;
Heavy as hail upon the sweating leaves
The dust shook like a storm behind the car
Whose windows peopled all the grove with eyes.
You’ve got to be plucky and brave when you’re convalescent and go out in public. Anything less could turn into a spectacle.
For the last week, I’ve been reminding myself of the man with one pants leg pinned up who passed me on crutches, going out of a local restaurant as I was going in. He looked up at me, grinned, and said “I’ve been looking for someone to race!” However hard my road is, his is probably harder. I try to keep thinking about that and be grateful.
Yesterday a package arrived, sent by a friend who lives in another state, containing all the ingredients for afternoon tea. So I’m trying to look forward to that, and other sedentary pleasures.
Inside, though, I’m an ungrateful grouch, tired of reading, tired of writing, tired of mostly sitting still while everyone races about, even when they’re doing really nice things for me.
My brother sent me flowers with a note that read “”hope you are up and kicking soon. You kneed to get better. For now you can be kneedy.”
Yep, he knows me.