Odds and ends crutchtime

A catchall as I start my second week after Achilles surgery.

Crutches checklist I went to campus three days this week, my teaching days Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Limited mobility means I have to get systematic about things which I imagine most of us do ad hoc: a checklist for getting out the door, since I can’t run home to get things I forget, and I’m more forgetful than usual on pain medication; keys in the left pocket, phone in the right; planning my movement around the building and campus, since our elevator is slow; cutting back on coffee, since 15 minute round trip walks to the union just aren’t gonna happen. Etc. I already have daily checklists for class, and use our groupware calendar extensively. So that’s not a very big adjustment. I’m lucky that my classroom is about 50 feet from my office.

I’ve had a lot of help. Multiple colleagues have offered to drive me to and from campus. Our department office manager Barb Arvin did a fantastic job getting me a few accommodations for teaching without walking. In less than 24 hours, she got a rolling desk chair for my classroom–much easier to scoot around for group work and the like than to use crutches– and got Physical Plant to fix my sticky door lock and slow down the timing on the door closer to the bathroom I use most often. She and my department chair gave me rides to and from a meeting. My students have also been very gracious. Every day before and after class, students have volunteered to help me carry books, open doors, and the like. Small things, but add up to a tremendous difference, and I appreciate them very much.

AJ and the girls At home, things are going well, too. Friends brought food the first weekend after my surgery. John and Karen brought greens from the garden. Since I was planning to go to a conference, we had already scheduled sitters so Erin could go to book club. They came over to help with bedtime, since what I could do was limited, to say the least. AJ brought a great math activity from her block teaching to share with the girls, and Elisa worked her baby whisperer magic on Amelia the next night. My parents arrived Monday, taking over most of the chauffeur and taxi duties from Erin, and helping with housework, harvesting tomatoes in kale in advance of our first freeze, etc. I’ve been able to help in limited ways, like reading books to the girls, prepping food, and directing Madelyn during pick-up-around-the-house time.

Zippy pants and foot-hat I’ve made some little adaptations to get around, like wearing my fingerless bike gloves most of the time, since my hands get a workout from the crutches, and wearing a backpack most of the time as well, so I can carry things around school and the house. One of my travel mugs fits right onto the handle of my crutches, which is nice. We’ve put a stool into the bathroom so I can put weight on my left knee while I shave and sponge myself off (no showers for now). And at times I give up on standing and just sit down to do stuff–like the other day when I couldn’t find one of my NA beers in the fridge (no real beer because of pain meds). My mom put zippers into two pairs of pants for me so I can get them over my cast, and modified a hat to fit my foot. All in all, while crutches are certainly an inconvenience, I’ve figured out ways to keep up some of my normal activities, with help from others. I’m glad my parents visited–they were helpful, and Madelyn and Amelia were thrilled to see them.

Erin deserves the most credit here. She’s been simply great, never blinking despite adding an array of duties to her mama schedule. I never forget how wonderful my wife is. But now it’s especially apparent. I’ve recruited friends to help her get some time for herself. After I hang up these crutches, I’m going to invest some serious energy into that project.

Today is our sixth pajama party for the girls’ birthdays. Breakfast at dinnertime, Erin’s choice. We count 70 people on our RSVP list. Gonna be a full house, to say the least. Erin and my mom put together the “haunted closet” which the kids love. I’ll be cutting up some pineapple soon and helping make some other things. And so far today I’ve been off the pain meds (yay!) so maybe I can have a glass of beer with my pancakes.

Though I missed MWCA, Neil and I have kept up our research schedule. We’re halfway through the second round of student interviews now, and we’re contacting faculty members to make arrangements to interview them. This weekend, we’re answering a call for proposals for the Kairos special issue on multimodality and writing across borders. Friday afternoon, we spent an hour and a half catching up, planning our work for the rest of the year. We decided to start using a weblog to write regularly about our progress. I’ll have more to say about that shortly.

What else? Not much. Getting to and from the university, helping with parenting, and keeping up with research is enough. Wednesday and Friday, I was booked pretty much solid 9-5: and exhausted at the end of the day. Certainly, I’ve had no problems sleeping since my surgery! As my leg heals, perhaps I’ll be able to do more–but I’m not going to overdo things. Better safe than stupid. This coming week, I meet with my surgeon Thursday; he’ll remove the staples and put on a new cast, and we’ll talk about my rehabilitation. I’m going to ask if I can switch to a VACOcast achilles boot a few weeks after that. It would be great to be able to walk before February.

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