climb

the well-documented life of a broken man, part 2: four weeks with a pair of crutches


today marks my fourth week wearing a cast. to say that these last 28 days have been extremely difficult for me is to understate the obvious. so many things changed: routines, vacation plans, bucket lists, training outlook, daily budgets, etc. my condition is compounded by the fact that i live alone, and continued to live alone even when it may have done me some good to have someone with me in my house, to make sure i don't fall over when i'm hopping around the small space i call home, or to just help me take the garbage out to the chute. my mom only learned about my condition over a week after it happened because she insisted that i call her up. i had no plans to make her worry even further -- she's already frazzled by the situation with my dad. but when i told her i won't be able to drop by the house even when i had no plans for the weekend, i had to fess up. i made her cry over the phone and it alarmed her that i'd managed to survive alone for over a week. she wondered aloud how i got through my day, particularly when she found out that i continued to go to the office, resting as i did for just 2 days.


kahit pilay, puma-party pa din!

to all who might wonder how it's been like, let me describe my day to you with the vivid details i'm known to describe. i wake up half an hour earlier that i usually do, although i've never adjusted my alarms. i wake up several times during the night because it is extremely uncomfortable, sometimes a little painful, to have a foot wrapped in fiberglass. i get up half an hour earlier because it takes me half an hour more than the usual to prepare -- and i'm not even cooking myself breakfast. i wrap my cast in a plastic bag and tape both ends so that water doesn't get in. i take a bath with my right foot raised so that it doesn't get wet too much. i dry myself up and take my day's attire and put them down on the bed. i get dressed sitting down. after i've combed my hair and worn my office ID, i put on a pair of gloves -- people have observed that my palms are supple. i'll admit i haven't done any hard manual labor, and i began to grow callouses only on my first day walking with a pair of crutches.


i limp to the elevator when normally i take the stairs going down. i walk out to the street and wait for a cab. the guard usually helps me call one, because i tire of standing easily and have to sit on the no parking sign while several cars ignore me. i get off at the RCBC drop-off in HV dela costa and get my balance before i proceed. at this time the car behind has probably honked twice already. i get no special treatment in RCBC, although the guards at the doors do push the tables away to make space for my crutches, and they hold the up button until i'm inside the elevator. but otherwise, i still go through the process and have my bags checked. it's a bit of a challenge in my office because i have to get through two bomb-proof doors which are heavy even for a person without any disability. there's a third door that won't open unless i scan my ID. then the first thing i do is drop by the pantry -- by this time, beads of sweat the size of pearls are dripping from my forehead and i feel extremely thirsty. i go to get my own glass and hop to the water dispenser on my own. i don't order the pantry staff to do these tasks for me, although without fail they come by my office to ask if i want to buy lunch: for the most part i actually manage to bring food with me. i still cook at home in spite of everything.


a cripple among runners

unless it's absolutely necessary i don't leave my seat. i schedule my visits to the toilet so that they coincide with my lunch break or with my need to mix a cup of hot chocolate. my secretary often comes to ask if i need anything and i'm usually too shy to ask. finally she said she would be doing the groceries and asked if i needed anything. i said two liters of fresh milk would be fine. in the afternoon, i get ready to go back home, and it all begins by wearing my fingerless gloves. i proceed to the taxi stand, and if by chance i get there after 5:30PM, a long queue would already have collected. i lean against a pillar just beside the line because i can't stand on one foot for too long. sometimes, the person ahead of me offers his or her taxi for me, and i usually decline with a smile. if the waiting time isn't too long, i do not abuse my disability -- i don't think that my condition entitles me to any privileges, and i've never asked anyone for any favors that they wouldn't volunteer themselves.


i can manage a few steps like the ones outside my building

there were two times that i decided not to wait for my turn in the queue. on both cases the lines were long, and taxis came few and far between. the persons ahead of me, after seeing my crutches, look away decidedly, ignoring the huffing and grunting that comes with having to hold my balance for too long. i don't really mind that they are unwilling to give up their place in the line. they're probably in some kind of hurry, whereas i just get easily tired, so tired that twice i sat on the pavement. my taxi fare going home does not exceed P55. i live nearby, but nothing could be harder than walking that distance, which is slightly in excess of 600 meters, with a pair of crutches. the first time i had to pause several times and rest my hands that were already shaking from the extreme workout. the second time i did it i only stopped once, mainly to ask a stranger to take my picture. but on both times i arrived home with my barong drenched deep in sweat, it feels almost as if i had left it hanging outside while it was raining. i plop down on the bed, my arms still trembling -- they've never felt this bad since i did supersets in the gym.


shane confessed he gave me a drink that was spiked with shrooms on the day i had my unfortunate accident -- proximate cause?

but although my plans changed, i had to exert extra effort to pretend that everything was just the usual. i still go down when my friends are across the street having a few beers. i still managed to leave the house and attend a birthday party, even though i sat in one place the entire time, and didn't mingle. when a new friend was about to leave the following day to fly back to canada, i popped by b-side to say goodbye. i went to greenbelt to have dinner with friends who were flying back to japan. heck, i even managed to haul myself to pico de loro cove in hamilo coast to do voice over duties for the salomon x-trail pilipinas 2013, as i had promised to a friend. admittedly the hardest thing i had to do because i was stubborn to ask for help was to go to johnny air to pick up stuff i ordered on amazon -- i fell on my way up the stairs and it rained really hard on my way back to the office. but there was nothing herculean about anything i did. i will admit none of them would have been possible without friends who went out their way just to accompany me, who picked me up from my house and drove me home, who visited me and enjoyed the libations i had stocked in my refrigerator, who checked on me every now and then to ask how i was, to predict how it will be when they finally remove my cast even though they've never themselves endured it, to ask if it itched inside my cast, to ask if i needed help.


my mom also has limited mobility but she took the time to visit me

no, it never itched inside to the point that i was driven crazy or that i had to resort to inserting a ruler inside my cast. i don't know how i managed to do that but i really hardly thought about it. earlier today i joked about developing bed sores when someone asked me how my holy week at home was. 4 days i never left the house, and i was on my bed, watching movies ("the lady", "war horse", "coriolanus", "lincoln lawyer") and TV shows, playing infinity blade II, updating my blog, reading essays by jon krakauer, editing videos and uploading them to youtube, etc. i only got up to use the toilet and to heat food my loving mom brought to make sure i never go hungry, although my hoarder tendencies made sure i would survive alone at home for two weeks without needing to go out.


the view from my crutches: waiting for a taxi

later today i'll find out if i need to wear this cast for much longer. during my last visit to the doctor, he said it'll be taken out this afternoon. i hope it doesn't turn out to be some kind of april fool's joke. having endured a pair of crutches and strutting around on one leg for a month now, i've had a brief glimpse of how it's like to be differently-abled. i make no bold claims that i know now how it's like. my situation is very different, since i'll soon regain full use of my right foot. in fact, my response to anyone who has ever asked is this: no, even after a few weeks, i have never gotten used to walking with crutches. i make no sweeping statements about what it's like to have limited mobility. i can only speak for myself, and what i say is this: i do not demand pity. you are free to deny me of it. but i do expect understanding: understand, for example, that it takes quite an effort for anyone in my condition to stand, or that it would take me longer than usual to get out of a cab, or that i can't do the things that you take for granted. i would not deign to say: if you were in my shoes, or more appropriately, if you were in my shoe, because having to use a pair of crutches is not something i would wish on anyone.