Maybe you've broken your ankle, your leg or your foot, ruptured a tendon or had surgery, either way you're stuck in a leg cast. This is not fun. I promise.
Last week, I had surgery to repair my EHL tendon that ruptured after my iMac attacked me. The EHL tendon (aka the extensor hallucis longus tendon) controls the big toe and this apparently is a big deal problem that needed big deal fixing. So here I am stuck in bed and on the couch with my leg all plastered up.
I had a little warning that I'd be having this surgery and that I could expect the be in a cast for 4 months, so like any good procrastinator I spent hours trawling Dr Google for advice on how to take care of myself and what to expect. The one area that was really lacking in information was what to wear. As semi fashion conscious as I am, I knew my one pair of denim shorts that I'd worn everyday this summer just wouldn't work. I needed help and options. I even tweeted @Refinery29 hoping they could do a post, but they ignored me. So a week in, I've learned a few things and thought I'd write the post Refinery29 didn't want to.
1. Stay comfy, stay in bed.
Most of the time you will be laying down, not even sitting down. So get comfy. Way comfy. If no one is coming over or you're not going anywhere then eff fashion. Wear your undies and a t-shirt and be done with it.
2. Dress over your head.
If you do venture out or someone is coming to visit and you don't want to show them your underwear you will have to put some freakin clothes on. Dressing over your head is the easiest way to do this. What does that mean? Choose clothes that you 'pull on' rather than clothes you 'step into'.
When you're in a leg cast you need to quickly accept the fact that you have only one leg and less than 2 arms to work with. When you stand you are not balanced and your arms will be preoccupied by the crutches - you won't be able to 'step into' anything. Even sitting on the bed and pulling up a skirt won't work because when you stand - ahh no arms to finish pulling it up! See? So unless you have someone helping you dress everyday aim for 'pull on'*. Elastic waistbands on skirts are your new bff. So are dresses with elastic waists and no zips.
3. Carry your own stuff (or why pockets rule the world).
I've always been a big fan of dresses with pockets. They're just so practical and if they're cut well they don't add any fabric bulk. Now that I am on crutches I am an even bigger fan because you cannot carry a damn thing with crutches. Ok I fib, I can sort of carry my phone if I have to, but it just slows down the trip and kind of cramps my fingers. So if you're clothes shopping pre-cast keep an eye out for pockets.
(If you don't have pockets, make use of your bra. The only thing I take with me from the bed to the couch is my phone. It travels next to my left breast. TMI?)
Steps 4-7 after the jump.
4. Not too short not too long not too baggy not to tight.
Dressing with a leg cast, like all fashionable dressing is about balance. Firstly, when you walk in crutches your shirt or dress with get hiked up under your arms fairly quickly. If your dress is on the shorter side of short you'll be revealing your bum cheeks after just a few steps. If you were to wear a maxi dress on the other hand you clearly have a death wish - one trip of a crutch on the hem and you'll be back in hospital in no time.
It's a similar story for tight vs baggy. If a dress/shirt/jacket is too baggy then you'll get all caught up in the crutches, it it's too tight you'll be trying to pull it down all day without the use of your arms. Fail.
5. I heart sleeves forever.
It's a week after my surgery and I have bruises under my arms. I spent two days in hospital in bed, then came home and have left the house once since then. I go nowhere except from the couch to the bed to the bathroom. I have bruises. Crutches are bitches. All I can say is get yourself some padding and get yourself some sleeves. Protect your pits, people.
Madewell - First Frost Cardigan | Thakoon Addition - Pocket Pullover | Levi's Made & Crafted - Chunky Knit Cardigan
6. Why shorts don't work in the beginning.
You're gonna want to wear shorts, I know it. They're comfy, especially if they're baggy enough to get on. And before you know it you will be disagreeing with everything I said in Point 2. You'll pull on your shorts one day and say to yourself "That stranger from the internet knows nothing! ah ha! Look at me and my awesome wearing of shorts" and then at the end of the day you will try to take them off and you will realise that I am right and you will mutter "Bitch" under your breath. Why? Because getting shorts on is not the problem.
When an able bodied two legged person takes their baggy shorts off they unbutton them and let them fall to the floor. Then they 'step out of them' or 'shake their ankle' to free their foot. You can't do either of these things. Even if you sit on the end of the bed and reach to peel of the short from your bulky plastered foot - you can't. Reaching to touch my toes is the most painful thing I could do in the first week. Slowly I can see that in a few weeks it won't hurt so bad but for now I want to limit my leg movement as much as possible.
You just had surgery or suffered a major injury, this is the time for you to rest. Stay in bed with your leg up as much as possible so your body can heal itself. Nothing is worth re-injuring your leg for. I wish you well.
Both photos of Marilyn Monroe by John Vachon from the book Marilyn, August 1953: The Lost LOOK Photos available here.
*If you do have someone helping you dress you are wildly lucky. But I presume this is the same person who is fetching your food, bringing you more pillows, charging your phone. So give them a break ok. You can do this one thing for yourself.