My Latest Accessories

Short version: My leg got painfully sore last night walking back from Strictly Business: The Musical, I went to sleep hoping it would get better, it did not, and thus this morning I went to the hospital today at the urging of the hotel doctor, who was worried about the possibility of deep vein thrombosis, given my extensive travels recently.

It was not deep vein thrombosis. What it was, was a tear in my calf muscle, probably brought on by walking fairly strenuously for several hours straight the other day when I visited King’s Park in Perth. I will survive, but I’m on crutches for the rest of my stay in Australia and have to not overexert myself for the next few weeks. Stupid calf muscle.

So this is how I spent my Friday morning. How are you?

100 thoughts on “My Latest Accessories

  1. After several largely sedentary months, I spent the day at Six Flags in SF with a dear friend visiting – amusingly – from Australia. We managed to hit every actual coaster in the park. I haven’t looked at the odometer on my phone yet, but it was a good few miles.

    I am going to *hurt* tomorrow. So worth it though.

    Also, it’s good to know you’ve not got deep-vein thrombosis. Those Sad Puppy dolts would be so thrilled if your head *actually* exploded.

  2. My DH fell on ice in late Feb & had surgery for a torn fight quad. He totally failed at trying crutches and uses a walker instead.

  3. Better crutches than a wheelchair. Could be worse! And you have a handy stick to beat at any venomous animals or rabid wombats…

  4. Nasty. Just as well you “only” walked up Mount St instead of Jacob’s Ladder.

    I’m currently dealing with the after effects of returning to training after a week off. Definitely feeling those back squats today (although basically fine unlike your good self).

  5. Did they recommend RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)? Even if they didn’t, *I* recommend rest, ice, and elevation. Compression I can take or leave. Glad it wasn’t worse, and please take care to make sure it doesn’t get worse!

  6. My sympathies! I had something similar happen when I visited – sprained an ankle and instead of going off of it for a day and resting, decided to take codeine and power through by walking around Sydney for the next week. Got back to the US, couldn’t use my leg – turns out I’d seriously pulled the tendons in my knee and was in a wheelchair for 3 months.

    Good luck on the crutches! If you haven’t been on them before, warning: your armpits will hurt like nobody’s business and may be bruised. Also, be careful with codeine, if you take any (it’s OTC in Australia) – apparently it makes ~5% of the population not only pain-free, but also very hyper, and therefore more likely to overdo it and reinjure themselves. I learned this the hard way (it’s also why my mom is not allowed codeine for her back – last time she had some she tried to lift 50lb of granite into her truck and was on strict bedrest for a week after).

    Wishing you a speedy recovery!

  7. I’m a Montessori school teacher (ages 3-9 years old) and tore my meniscus a month ago. Crutches (which the children called ‘crunches’), a brace, and the sage medical advice, “don’t bend your knee so much,” have been the highlights of this painful saga. I wish you a speedy recovery, along with a dearth of tiny people who are constantly underfoot and a wealth of tiny (or full sized) people willing to get you an ice pack when you need it from the fridge.

  8. *tuts* *wages finger* I did tell you not to walk up Mount Eliza! But did you listen? Nooooo.

    (Don’t listen to OJ though, wheelchairs are awesome.)

    What I found when I was on crutches (and strictly non-weightbearing on one foot) was just how much walking on them – the swing-through – works your abs. Swings and roundabouts.

    Some extra foam padding on the hand-rests can be useful, as can making sure the height is adjusted so the weight’s more on your hands than in your armpits. No-one needs a nerve palsy on top of a sore leg.

  9. (sorry to doublepost, saw the post after I commented)
    Kev – usually for muscle stuff they recommend heat alternating with ice, or just heat if ice doesn’t work (for some folks it makes the pain worse). Heat is useful because it keeps things from getting stiff, since the other muscles will try to compensate and that can make the pain worse for a while. Those stickable ThermaCare heaty wraps are a godsend – for a calf injury you could get a back one and use the velcro to secure it around your leg.

  10. Ugh, that’s the worst. I’m glad it’s not DVT, though. Will badly strained a muscle in his leg last month so he had to check for that, too.

    I spent the evening seeing Bleachers play in NYC and that was quite lovely. I’m going to be feeling it tomorrow, though. I hope you’re having a good time and the rest of your trip is lovely!

  11. how was your experience with the evils of socialized medicine?

    Did you wait for hours, only to be seen by a poorly trained 3rd-world (i.e. Australian) doctor? Did she prescribe the bloodletting before or after you took the purgative?

    Or was it pretty much like going to a doctor anywhere in the US, except cheaper and with less bullscheisse?

  12. Crutches are a complete pain. After a nasty ski accident I was on them for almost 2 years. I got to be quite handy on them, but short stints on them give you the owie under arm bits without the time to give you the coping strategies. Hope your time one them is very short & remember to ‘ghost walk’ – keep going through the motions of walking even if you’re not bearing weight, it’s better for the rest of your body mechanics.

  13. Crutches will get you ripped, bro.

    Last time I was on crutches I was working two jobs, the second of which was at a labyrinthine facility in Hollywood. TV City had only two exits at night, neither of which were crutch-friendly. I got lost on the lowest level and was crutching around slowly for half an hour at 2 am after an eighteen-hour day.

    By the time the doctors gave me a walking boot eight weeks later I had super-toned arms and great delts.

  14. John, get well soon. There are worse reasons to need crutches. My mother found that out when I was in high school. She discovered it by falling at church one Sunday morning and breaking her knee cap.

    In your case, take it easy, use the crutches, and do what the doctors say. Too many people try to push it too hard too soon. I know, been there personally.

  15. Someone I know well had a similar problem a few years ago, and got extremely annoyed when I hinted it might be related to aging bodies being less resilient than young ones to unusual exercise; he insisted it could happen to anyone. Be careful, as the somebody I mentioned re-injured himself in the exact same spot two months later.

    Also, add me to the list of those who’d be interested in the details of your encounter with socialist medical care.

  16. @Tom

    “You won’t bleed him, you won’t cup him, you won’t divide his humors. For all YOU charlatans know, this poor man is both phlegmatic and bilious!” Dr. Kreiger–ARCHER.

  17. As someone who comes from the country in question, I’d imagine the encounter is going to be much less exciting than the American commentators hope. I’d imagine the only real difference is what happens when the nurse asks if John has his (Australian) Medicare card, and then it’s basically a trip to the hospital.

    On the other hand, let’s not discount the possibility of culture shock. I know last time I was in the US I was shocked at the number of mobility scooters I saw.

  18. I’ve been on crutches before – they’re a ruddy nuisance.

    In my case, the cause was even dafter. I was coming out of a (specialist, science fiction) bookstore in Perth City, rather distracted, and my head said “two steps down to street level”. Turned out there was only one, and I went down like a ton of bricks. At first I thought I’d just rolled my ankle (I do this with depressing regularity) but when I tried to stand up, I passed out.

    They wound up calling an ambulance to get me to Royal Perth Hospital, because I couldn’t stand at all, and it turned out I’d chipped one of the bones in my ankle. Which got me a cast for six weeks, and was a colossal annoyance the whole wretched time.

    Hope your calf heals without incident, and you wind up fully functional again.

  19. Travel time on Mercia yielded a broken foot and the loose end of the draw to be the finest talent spot in the land. It was. There once was a man from Festoon who drank all his millk with a spoon – it wasn’t say once, it wasn’t say twice, it was all to do with the moon.

  20. People asking how I handled the socialized medicine:

    Actually I went to the emergency room of a private hospital, pre-admitted by the hotel doctor. I was charged $400 to get through the door (reimbursable by my insurance, I checked), got an ultrasound and a consult. I’m also renting crutches for $10 for the week. I suspect this is overall what I would have been charged back in the US. I will say the processed me through relatively quickly. In all a perfectly good experience, inasmuch as a trip to the hospital emergency room can be considered a perfectly good experience.

  21. Good thing it wasn’t DVT. But really, it shouldn’t be any surprise that something in Australia tried to kill you, even if it was just a public park.

  22. Better that than a lot of alternatives – like a compressed disk in the spine or having the flu.

    Get well soon!

  23. Well, at least you got the yo ho ho and a bottle of rum variety; mine were much less evocative of a sortie on the black pearl.

    However, I do have a rather nice walking stick…

  24. Sorry to learn you had a painful injury during your travels. Nobody wants to have to navigate the unfamiliar medical services of someplace far from home, even if there’s every reason to expect good care.

    Thanks for the snapshot of the crutches but keep an eye out for a sedan chair. What a photo that would make!

  25. All I can say is “Best Wishes”.

    As for me… I’m dying. Hey everyone working on the 86th year is doing that, so nu?

  26. Consider contacting your airline to book a wheelchair or assistance at the airport for your trip back. I imagine handling crutches and luggage would be a pain in the butt.

  27. Heal quickly! I had to travel with crutches once, when I sprained my ankle the day before I left on a vacation to the UK, and it was a pain in the rear. Only good thing is they put me in a wheelchair at Heathrow and let me and my husband go to the front of the customs/passport line. I felt like the world’s biggest phony.

  28. Talk about inconvenient.

    As for myself I’m getting ready to hit the road for Cleveland from DC to spend the weekend celebrating my mother’s birthday

  29. I was on crutches for a while when I fell off of a stool and twisted bloody hell out of my knee. Single most painful thing I’ve ever had happen to me (and I’ve had a root canal), but the crutches were the best workout I ever had.

  30. Wow, great news that it’s not DVT – a torn calf muscle is a painful nuisance, but not outright life-threatening. Thanks for the update!

    I’ll add to the cautions about crutch-walking. I’ve spent weeks on crutches on a couple of occasions (hip replacement surgery, and revision to the hip 17 years later), and it can really do a number on your hands and wrists. Be sure that the under-arm portion isn’t actually against your armpits as you rest weight on the crutches, or you’ll be really unhappy.

    Do please be careful for the rest of your trip, sir. And see if you can get some compression stockings to wear on the flight back, just to reduce the chance of an actual DVT when you’re back in the States.

  31. John,

    Torn calf muscles are, sadly, quite common for middle-aged folks–my wife and I, both in our 40s like you–have torn calf muscles in the last few years. My $0.02: get physical therapy. If you don’t really heal the muscle your calf will grab you when you least expect it for a long time hereafter. Feel better!

  32. The same thing happened to me last year. Owch. You have all my empathy.

    I did discover how incredibly effective ice is. It’s like magic!

    Get better soon!

  33. UGH. Here’s to having it heal quickly!!! But I’m SO GLAD it wasn’t a clot. I’m on Warfarin right now for one (birth control, not travel related) and it’s miserably inconvenient (though don’t get me wrong, I’m super grateful it presented in the leg, as opposed to shooting into my lungs and killing me at 34…) so you came out ahead there :)

  34. Ouch! I did that several years ago running into the surf. Nice little divot in the muscle. The doctor said “Just walk on it, eventually it’ll heal.” Took about 8 weeks, and I was prone to cramps in that muscle for a couple years after.

  35. I second the suggestion to contact the airline and make sure they are ready for you with a wheelchair. I walk with a cane (bad knees and spinal stenosis) and airports are hell if your mobility is limited. You also generally don’t have to stand in line for security and you get to board early, too.

    If you can get compression stockings for the flights, do, they’ll help keep the swelling down from sitting for so long, because you’re not going to feel like moving around much on the plane, I bet.

  36. I am in trouble this morning with the wife. Last evening as she napped I cleaned up the DVR which was almost out of recording space. I deleted lots of recordings dropping the recorded percentage to 38% capacity. Sadly, I deleted several programs she still planned to watch including the “19 and Counting” Duggar two-hour wedding. So this morning when she wakes up and strolls into the kitchen she will find on the cooktop a dozen red and pink roses, some dark chocolate covered cranberries, and a romantic card begging forgiveness. The wedding will be recorded again on Tuesday. Hope that helps.

  37. When I had to be on crutches for a couple of weeks, it was my hands that suffered the most. The pain was horrible after just a few days. I have no upper body strength whatsoever, so maybe that was part of the problem.

    I never want to go on crutches again!!!

    As for how I am now, just got over an upper respiratory infection & am feeling happy to breathe again – breathing is sooo nice. Also, looking forward to warm weather. I like heat.

  38. We told you that Australia would try to kill you, but would you listen? No.

    Seriously, best wishes with it, glad it isn’t worse, and be very, very careful on the flight home.

  39. Had the same injury two years ago after a brutal kick to the calf playing soccer. 4-6 before you start feeling “normal”, 8-10 weeks before you can really start using it hard again. Of course, I didn’t bother with crutches as a good limp suited me just fine.

  40. Having nursed my SO through a ruptured gastrocs (calf) muscle, I have experience. When you get home, if your insurance will cover it, get both Occupational Therapy to teach you how to manage your ADL’s on crutches (ie, how to go up stairs and such), and then get Physical Therapy as you heal (so you get full function back).

    And I *highly* suggest a simple modification to your crutches: get someone to go to a bicycle shop for you and pick up an add-on water bottle holder. You have the right style of crutches for it to be attached with nuts and bolts (may need to be purchased separately, but are nothing special). It will let you have a bottle of Coke Zero with you when you can’t otherwise carry it (will also work for takeout coffee cups). Hands down, being able to carry the caffeine of choice was the single biggest mood improver for my SO.

    I have a picture of how the rig works — should I email it to you?

  41. I did the same thing last year. Isn’t getting older so much fun! Sending healing thoughts your way.

  42. Could be worse (I mean the manner of injury, obviously the injury could be worse). My old boss once got a stress fracture in his foot on a conference call! Ok, the fracture probably actually happened the day before while he was gardening. It just didn’t hurt until he got up from the call.

    If you’ve not spent much time on crutches – I second (third?) the comment about watching where the top of the crutches hit you – don’t keep them jammed in your armpits all the time. And be kind to your wrists they will get a work out. If you have spent time on crutches before, you know this already. :)

  43. Sorry to hear that. I’m just getting over 3 years of Plantar Fasciitis. Be glad it is something that heals quickly.

  44. Ouch! Hope you get to milk this for all sorts of sympathy and useful help.

    Looks like I wasn’t the only one to think this was due to fighting off an underpaid assailant sent by some Puppy mill or other. Just as glad it wasn’t.

  45. I suck at crutches. The last time I used them was after a lovely right tibial fracture. While attempting to get from the car to the front door with a splinted leg I did a perfect faceplant. Manage to keep the broken leg elevated, though.

    Next time I needed to get around with a no-weight-bearing leg (the left that time) I got a scooter. Wonderful things. Can’t recommend them enough, do please look into getting one for the rest of your trip, John.

    And I’ll also strongly second the above advice on compression stockings. I wear them all the time due to bad leg veins (one reason I had the left leg fixed) but especially for long air trips everyone should wear them. All the more true as we get older.

    Best wishes, all. Enjoy the nice autumn weather!

  46. I am also immobilized, clipped my big right toe and lost the nail. Been to the walk in centre last 2 evenings for dressing changes now they say I need it operated on asap. Trouble is the podiatry specialist is on holiday and I’m waiting still to be referred elsewhere…

  47. Ouch GWS.

    You could consider an iWALKFree when you get back to the US if you’ll need it for any length of time.

    [Disclaimer: a friend of mine imports these into the UK. He gave one to Harrison Ford after his accident on-set for Ep 7. If Han Solo can do it… ;-) ]

  48. Everything in Australia wants to kill you, and you end up in hospital for going on walkabout. Bravo, sir.

    Good excuse to upgrade to first class on the flights home!

  49. Visit to the emergency room is alot more than $400 in the US… back in 2008 I had a sprained ankle and wasn’t sure if I broke. So I got x-rays, a plastic splint for it and sum crutches. I believe it was $900. That was with the insurance discount. Now I didn’t rent the crutches… but you can those at walgreens relatively cheaply. The prices for emergency room visits have likely gone up since then.

  50. Well, if you had DVT, you could spend a lot more time Down Under. When I had got a clot in my leg, I could not get on an airplane for 3 months.

  51. Not to be a d***, but what does a tear in your calf muscle from walking suggest about your exercise habits? Your place looks perfect for a Prowler…

  52. Of course there is absolutely no truth to the absurd rumour that you merely exacerbated a preexisting condition caused by excessive Rock & Roll high jumping!
    The truth will eventually come out Scalzi (I’ve heard that there are pictures somewhere on teh intrawebs!), in the meantime – hope you get well soon 😉.

  53. If you have to start a phrase, “Not to be a d***” is usually a good indicator to stop talking.

    Tearing a calf muscle is fairly common in distance runners and people who walk A LOT. It’s just normal wear and tear associated with overuse.

  54. Hope you’re much better before heading home. Probably some head shaking and talk going on from the Scalzi Women about a fitness program.

  55. Ouch. I had the same injury, a torn gastroc (right side for me) a few years ago. It was brutally painful. I got pain meds in the ER, plus crutches, etc. When I saw the orthopedist a few days later she put me in a boot for the next several weeks. Getting injured sucks, getting injured while travelling sucks even more ( a sprained ankle in Thailand had a deleterious impact on that trip). Good luck with your recovery, and enjoy the rest of your trip as best as you can.

  56. Definitely talk to the airline(s) now about a wheelchair. The last time my aunt and uncle (both mobility-impaired) flew, they waited until check-in and there was only one worker available. So one of them was wheeled to the gate, then the worker ran back to get the other one.

    Hope your leg heals well.

  57. Ouch! I think I got around faster on crutches, but they still suck. (I’m pretty sure the way I swung around on them is not recommended.)

    I just had about half an order I placed on Wednesday show up. :D Unfortunately, one box was full of items that smelled like cigarette smoke. :P Not sure how a retail chain managed that with new clothes. :/ (Washing them made the stench go away. :D )

  58. Yeah, this aging stuff sucks. Every time I’ve tried to use crutches I feel like I’m falling over backwards; I have better luck with 2 canes. (And now that I’ve got a titanium hip, I’m down to one cane! Cyborgs rule!)

  59. Sing it, M. A. — those titanium parts are life-changing in the best possible way. (Mine is a knee.)

  60. So sorry to hear of your injury, but very glad it’s not a DVT. Those really suck. Take good care of yourself. I hope lots of people bring you pie.

  61. I once ended up in the ER on a business trip for food poisoning. Told my co-workers afterwards that I had a new standard for a successful trip–any trip which didn’t include “the EMTs were so considerate” and “the ER staff was simply amazing” would from then on be considered a good trip.

  62. As somebody slowly getting off crutches made necessary by a leg fracture two months ago (in physio now), you have my sympathies and best wishes for a speedy recovery.

  63. So slightly confused non-American here — what’s up with those crutches? I know the US likes them for all the usual reasons the US likes things that nobody else uses any more, but I thought everyone else had moved on to forearm crutches in the fifties or so?

  64. Sorry that this happened to you. Hope you recover quickly. Last time I was on crutches I discovered that you can’t carry a cup of coffee while walking with them.

  65. That sucks. I spent most of Friday in bed with a fever, so mine wasn’t a lot of fun either.

  66. Perhaps you should rethink rehearsing the “stellar rock and roll leaps” until the band reunion tour is official?

  67. Ouch! I tore my right calf muscle a few years ago, and it’s no fun! I hope you heal up quickly. One thing that really helped me recover was going to see a good licensed massage therapist it healed, to work out some of the scar tissue. Rest up & heal quickly!

  68. @Studer Those type of crutches put less pressure on your wrists than the forearm type, so they’re more tolerable for some people – something I wish I’d known last time I was on crutches, as the forearm crutches trashed one of my wrists before I switched over, which has left me with more pain than the injury I was on crutches for >:|

  69. Anytime you get unexplained leg pain, get your ass to a doctor and get it looked at. No exceptions. Take it from someone who learned that the hard way.

  70. Well, you’re doomed now. All those poisonous spiders and dingoes and such will sense your weakness and try and cut you out of the herd.

  71. Worst thing about those crutches is needing them (duh).
    The second worst thing about them is that neither resembles a mallet.

    Sympathy and best wishes for a safe return,
    Chris

  72. I noticed your twitterfeed today. Are you SURE it’s only a torn muscle? Please take care of yourself.

  73. @Christopher J Hawley. “The Crutch of Loving Correction” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

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