An Embarrassment of Crutches

As you know I employ a pair of German designed arm crutches (black ones left hand side above) to complete my daily ensemble; a perfect example of where form i.e. design meets function. Not cheap but extraordinarily valuable to someone who aspires to be the embodiment (relative) sophistication! I simply consider them an essential accessory as part of the belt, bag and shoes ensemble. With aging comes the occasional need for physical assistance; the walking pole an acceptable accessory for those drawn to the great outdoors but quite impractical for day-to-day domestic use. The pathetic little cord that slips around the wrist – what is that all about? I’m sure avid hill walkers who regularly assume to stance of a mountain goat can assure me of the advantage of the accessory; pray refrain from conveying the details on this occasion.

But fear not the dream of Mr Bevan is thankfully still alive in the NHS and the older amongst us will be supplied with robust elephant grey walking aids (right hand side top above). It seems that this particular corner of the (internal) market has been cornered by certain provider (see above); the same found across the UK. Whilst this may make economic sense it is rather confusing when more than one user finds themselves sharing the same dwelling. Add into the mix the informal market i.e. where people swap aids when said items are no longer required and I confess to being rather well provided for on account of a close friend’s husband having had two hip replacements in the last 18 months!

This visit home has found my father and I fighting for the same crutches – partly my fault for suggesting he might find said aid easier to use than the stick he had been given when discharged from hospital (after his hip replacement). It seems to me that the stick is too short resulting in his carry it rather than using it for support. The problem is you can’t lengthen it (his stick) hence suggesting he might use a crutch which is the right length! Well this might seem a simple task; oh how wrong you would be!

OK dad is 84 years old but he’s not a child nor should he be treated as one even if he does bow to my superior knowledge on crutch matters! The problem is the interpretation of ‘standing up straight’; to me this means adopting an erect poise (assume there is a cord being pulled out of the top of your head – a physio told me – otherwise known as ‘model walking’). To my darling dad the interpretation seems to depend on whether he’s concentrating or not; if he is then he is still (almost) 6 foot tall i.e. not stooping as if about to pick up something off the floor. If he’s tired or thinking about something else – most frequently in the morning if he has the correct change for the newspaper he is on his way to collect – then he finds the walking aid difficult to manage (it gets in the way) because he’s not standing up straight! This tends to be a circular conversation; fortunately for me a) I don’t have to have it several times a day and b) he does tend to listen to me!

Here I pay homage to my dear mother’s patience and forbearance (most of the time – she’s not a saint for heaven sake)! As a former infant teacher she is practiced in giving simple instructions to small people – more it seems than the nursery teachers whose voices I hear every morning floating over the garden wall. The family house backs onto a primary school – the one both my brother and I attended several decades ago. When doing something in the garden this weekend my brother found lego bricks under the fence that borders the nursery area. My parents had previously found similar items and had assumed the children had thrown them over the (8ft) fence!

Pondering the feasibility of this – small people 2-3ft tall thrown things over an 8ft fence – I was temporarily persuaded when watching the javelin at the Paralympics. But no no no said athlete although short in stature was highly trained and enviably muscle-bound; plus he had a good run at it before thrusting, ops I mean launching, the javelin skyward! It took an experienced Chemical Engineer (my brother) to peer through the gap under the fence to see it was virtually level with the tarmac of the playground!

Finally on matters of the unlikely I would like to reassure those sceptical friends of mine that yellow raspberries do indeed exist (see photographic evidence above). Indeed I have been performing an amazing feat of the balancing kind to pick them for my breakfast – after eying them up over cigarettes and coffee from the patio! Here the missive becomes comfortingly circular; an arm crutch is perfect for hooking the raspberry canes to a position where the berries can be picked I recommend one considers this innovation should one be planning illicit blackberry picking amongst the hedgerows!


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