Yes, I know, I’m going to pull the injury card this week. But honestly, five weeks is a heck of a lot of time to be without two working feet and you’d be surprised by how much free time you suddenly have when you become immobile. So here’s the lowdown on what the #crutchlife has taught me:
Disclaimer: For those who don’t know, I suffered this unfortunate injury because I missed a stair while walking. So not only have I had a lot of time to contemplate the digital world, I’ve also been contemplating whether or not I should be allowed to enter the real world if I can’t even walk properly.
Ironically, I bought an Apple Watch one week before I fractured my foot. I was SUPER excited to try out the new LTE features. I was stoked to run without needing to bring my phone and listen to music through my watch. I also couldn’t wait to track my movement and calories burnt in the improved Workout app by doing non-traditional exercises like the stair-stepper, elliptical, etc. My original plan was to report back on my opinion of the watch’s new fitness capabilities, but I may or may not have jinxed myself. So here’s what happened instead:
In case you didn’t realize, when you use crutches your hands become occupied with the crutches and can’t fulfill any other duties while you move (clearly an issue during our class snack time.) You can’t do something as simple as carry a glass of a water, a laptop, or a phone. It doesn’t exactly help the fact that you’re injured, especially if you’re forgetful, like me. Now back to my story.
For the first two days of my injury I was restricted to the confines of my room and prohibited from leaving it as it would warrant too much movement. During this time, I spent all of my hours either eating in the kitchen or on my couch watching Netflix. Since I apparently was too focused on my food and Grey’s Anatomy, when I crutched between these two locations, I unfortunately frequently left my phone on the other side of the room and only realized by the time that I sat down. (#FirstWorldProblems.) Luckily, instead of being rendered phoneless, my Apple Watch came to the rescue.
Fortunately, my watch was always strapped to my wrist and didn’t need to be carried; it remained by my side as my personal assistant. It vibrated each time I received any sort of notification: new Snapchats, GroupMe messages, or Twitter developments (#IS6621!!!). If I decided to be a good student and break from Netflix/iMessage capabilities on my laptop to do homework, my watch vibrated each time I got a new text or call. For those who may not be able to carry their belongings with them, the watch allows you to stay connected and updated. We frequently assume disabled features on the phone mean augmenting the five senses, such as reading the small print or hearing a noise notification. But there’s an additional category of disabled that constitutes someone who might be able to see and hear their phone, but not transport it. Because of the Apple ecosystem, my watch allows me to still perform most of my usual phone functions even if my phone is 20 feet away. It’s all about accessibility.
While a watch may be able to notify you about your most recent Instagram “like”, cooking isn’t exactly in the watch’s repertoire (yet). As my friend Riley realized, dining halls aren’t an option for the #crutchlife if you can’t carry a plate. In a dorm kitchen you can at least try to momentarily bypass crutch restrictions by siting on counters while using the stove-top or ask someone to throw something in the oven for you.
But then how does one grocery shop if they can’t push a cart? Pro Tip: If your grocery store is handicap-friendly, use one of the electronic carts.
Take-out is certainly an appealing option to bypass the cooking dilemma, but now there’s the issue of actually retrieving the food: you’ll need a friend to meet the delivery man for you. However, handy apps like Food Tec Solutions let you track the food delivery and order seamlessly online. Thanks to Google Maps and the Internet, my mom pitied my injured self and wanted to order me dinner since I could barely cook for myself. From her laptop all the way in New Jersey, she quickly looked up an Italian restaurant in Brighton to deliver me gnocchi. (If you haven’t already, definitely order from Fiorella’s Express. It’s great and has free delivery.) When the app alerted me that the food was three minutes away from arriving, I sent my roommate outside to greet the delivery man. Dinner was served.
I hate to admit it, but my Type-A self wanted to immediately diagnose my injury (since I clearly have such an extensive Pre-Med background.) I spent way too long browsing WebMD as well as Google Image searching every foot bone and ligament known to man. I even tried to read my own MRI by popping the CD into my computer and looking at the images (As an aside, I wouldn’t recommend doing this unless you actually DO have a Pre-Med background. It’s really just a lot of black and white lines. You may as well just wait the three hours for your follow-up appointment instead of questioning each shaded region of your foot.) Without computers, how else would we cure our incessant curiosity in our world of instant gratification?
After realizing that I should probably stick to Software Engineering, I began using technology to rely on actual medical professionals. Through my insurance’s online portal, I looked up nearby Podiatrists, Orthopedists, MRI radiologists, and Physical Therapists. How my mom and dad found doctors when they were in college, especially ones that were covered by their insurance, is beyond me. A quick Google search then allowed me to verify how close the office was to campus.
To show just how beneficial technology was for my foot, consider this: My original podiatrist tried to tell me that my twisted/swollen foot was “fine” because my X-ray didn’t show any fractures, despite the fact that these symptoms hadn’t subsided after four weeks. After some Google searching, my mom and I concluded that I should get a second opinion since multiple websites said that X-Rays aren’t always conclusive for feet because there are too many bones. My second doctor then confirmed Google’s suggestion to get an MRI to see if there were any other fractures. There were, in fact, fractures. My talus bone thanks you, Internet.
It’s amazing how technology can simultaneously expand and contract our ability to connect. If you can’t carry a phone and text your friends, does that leave you out of the loop? Companies need to think beyond regular accessibility features like voice-activated text or enhanced zoom. Apple Watches give a voice to the hand-less and the ability to always stay updated. Food delivery apps might seem like they only help the lazy millennial who doesn’t want to cook dinner tonight, but it’s also great for those who physically cannot cook. For a business, having a presence on Google isn’t enough. As evidenced by the five (yes, five) doctors that I’ve gone to for this injury, you NEED to exist on multiple channels: Google Search, insurance portals, etc. I want to know that the doctor is relatively close and that it won’t cost me a fortune to get treatment. In this on-demand world, an online presence is vital for survival.
Lastly, Netflix REALLY needs to up their Halloween-movie-selection-game. I was a bit disappointed to find that I couldn’t watch Halloweentown, Hocus Pocus, or any of the other classics. The poor souls who can’t go “trick-or-treating” need to celebrate the holiday somehow when they can’t leave their room.