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Upstairs on Crutches – Fractured Ankle Diaries Week 2

Upstairs on Crutches – Fractured Ankle Diaries Week 2

Upstairs on Crutches – tackling stairs and steps with a broken ankle and trying not to fracture anything else in the process.

I wonder how many people break something while they are in plaster having already broken something? I have never had the misfortune of being in the position of having to use crutches until now. Seeing other people use them and it looks easy enough where in reality, at least for me, crutches are probably one of the riskiest propositions out there when it comes to getting over steps and climbing the stairs.

There is no alternative, the sticks are the only option…

Upstairs on crutches

Getting upstairs on crutches is a challenge, before leaving the hospital after the operation a nice young lady from physio showed me a few tips to get up the stairs using one crutch. This is the technique I am currently using but have to say that the hospital stairs do make it easier as they are much bigger, lower and wider.

Not to worry though we have the technique down and providing there is someone behind me just in case my 6ft 2″ frame decides to go backover then the hopping can commence… The aim is to hop and kind of launch yourself forwards and upwards at the same time while pushing on the crutch and pulling like hell on the stair banister.

upstairs on crutches
getting upstairs on crutches

This works a treat until old stroke leg begins to really feel it three steps from the top which are the most difficuly anyway. Miss one and your’e down like a sack of spuds with the person behind you in a mad panick attempting to grab whatever comes first, the knee takes the fall and on a carpet it’s not too bad.

Running out of banister presents it’s own set of issues as you really need to pull on it. You have to kind of twist your arm and do something weird at the top, like a disco dance from the 70’s after a bottle of straight Pernod. Once at the top you can gather yourself, get over the inevitable dizziness following such a Herculean effort and make your way to the intended location.

Downstairs on crutches

Getting downstairs on crutches is one of the more comical things my son has seen his Dad do. Very early on I opted for the backside option, step by step until I get to the third step from the bottom and into the crutches. What causes the hilarity is the sliding down each stair on your bottom, leg held up in the air not to mention the array of angles I have to get myself into at the stop of the stairs before the whole ‘sliding down’ begins.

broken ankle stories
boredom sets in…

Getting on your rear end at the top makes it worth it as the risk factor for me was too great – you can’t fall on your backside if your already on it and falling forward does not bear thinking about. Backside it is and always will be until the cast comes off.

Negotiating steps

I found steps to be a different proposition altogether very early on, even the lowest step can be dangerous and send you heading toward the ground either forwards or backwards. I’ve been on crutches nearly two weeks and have been caught twice nearly falling on a step – they are a nightmare.

Steps like your average doorstep can be quite high and do come with other obsticles that are determined to make your life difficult like door mats, scattered shoes and worst of all – frost. Steps can be dangerous at the best of times, throw crutches and some odd weight distribution into the mix on a slippery step and you have to have backup, just in case.

Balance & Strength

The biggest thing for me is balance and strength. The stroke in 2022 left me left sided weakness, something which I knew might be an issue but not to the extent that it has been. Standing on my left leg like a stork in a pond was something I used to practice regularly but never could pull it off for more than half a minute or so, now there is no option so standing up to do anything has to be done at a rapid rate of knots before I need to sit down and rest the old leg.

upstairs on crutches
new gear acquisition…

Using crutches after a stroke is a bit of an eye opener to be honest, here’s me thinking I was improving leaps and bounds where in reality my left side had been affected more than I initially thought. The right side compensates for the left [all the time] so you never quite grasp the extent of how weakened your left side might be – that is until you are forced to make it your dominant side through injury.


My wife keeps telling me off for getting up and ‘into’ the crutches when she’s not looking, it’s me getting prepared for the off but in truth you need somebody with you pretty much all of the time. Anyone who has suffered a stroke and has a weakened side is going to need support, I thought I would be fine but the reality is that physical stuff is a struggle and where balance can be hit and miss and you’re prone to getting dizzy then the extra person is good to have.

This weeks events

This weeks events have included going to see the stroke specialist [a very useful visit] and popping over to my Mums for the weekend which did not go without incident as I nearly came a cropper at the door [see steps above] before I even got in the house, luckily the remainder of the weekend was incident free.

I’ve finished a book ‘HELMET FOR MY PILLOW’ by Robert Leckie, written two articles for this site, managed to go the bathroom twice despite being bunged up due to Codeine and figured out a new way to get half in the bath for a better shower.

As for the ankle itself, the pain is nowhere near as bad as it was thanks mainly to the meds but the swelling has also started to go down too. My foot resembled that of a football for a week or so and everytime I got up it would throb like mad, almost burning and getting bigger, more purple and angry. This has now settled right down which makes things generaly more comfortable than they were.


1600 900 Mac


K90overland is Mac and Gayle, they lived in Andalucia for 19 years before moving back to the UK. Overlanding since 2019 the pair have built up a 'budget rig' and now enjoy a relaxed approach to discovering Scotland and the north of England.


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