This post will cover my Broken Ankle Experience – Part 5 of 5. In the first four parts of blog series, I’ve shared my experience with my broken ankle – what to do when traveling, tips on how to survive around the house, the cast versus boot process, healing and physical therapy. I hope the information was helpful. I’ll cover some overall thoughts and will also share how I was (or wasn’t) able to work during my three months of disability, for anyone who may be in the same field as I am.
GETTING AROUND IN PUBLIC
Getting around while on crutches is very difficult, and even if you are going stir-crazy, as I was, sometimes it is better just to relax rather than attempt to do too many public things. I didn’t pay attention to my own advice and grabbed every chance I had to get out. I covered taking public transportation in a previous blog, so the following is focused on being out in public (in general):
I volunteered to go along to a major airport a few times to pick someone up. In one instance, when we got there, I needed to use the rest room, so I hobbled into the airport. The parking garage was at the lower level and the baggage area (where we were picking someone up) was on the second level. No problem, of course, because they have a big elevator. Over to the elevator we went. We pressed the button. And waited. And waited. The elevator indicator never moved off the “Parking” level and the doors never opened. There was no sign that the elevator was out of service but it obviously wasn’t working. So there were now two options: To take the escalator or the stairs.
Escalators are not a good idea while on crutches because balance is impacted, as is speed. In order to get on the escalator, you need to time it perfectly, swinging your good leg onto the moving stairs and then lifting the crutches at the exact proper moment so you could place THEM on the moving stair. It really requires a lot of balance and practice, and unfortunately I didn’t have that.
My only option was to take the stairs, so I did. I made it up to the second level where I went in search of a rest room and when I couldn’t find it, I asked an airline attendant. He told me the only rest rooms were on the third floor and I could take the elevator. I told him the elevator was broken, and he insisted it wasn’t, so I tried it again. Nope. Still stuck on “Parking”. Sigh. Now I was annoyed, so I stomped up the stairs. Mind you, there are about 25-30 stairs from each level to the next, so I just stomped up 50 or 60 stairs. I thought of writing a letter to the management of the airport, but instead I’m complaining here.
Finally, I found the rest room, and there was one stall that had a handicapped sign. While smaller stalls are certainly usable, because they are small, it’s a little difficult to move around with the crutches, so the larger stalls are definitely preferable. But the stall was locked from the inside, with no sign that it was out of order, and it was not in use.
So here’s my thought on public accommodations for the disabled. I was able to get to where I had to go anyway, but what if I had been in a wheelchair? I would have been stuck outside the terminal. There may have been an elevator on some other part of the terminal building, but there wasn’t any way for me to know that, and without crutching my way around an entire building, there was no way for me to find out. Second, if I had a wheelchair, I would not have been able to use the rest room at all. I simply could not have fit in any of the regular stalls. Third, if I hadn’t been as strong as I was (as she flexes muscles in demonstration!), I wouldn’t have been able to use the stairs either.
Here’s a thought if you work at a public airport, other transportation location, or any restaurant, etc. Borrow a pair of crutches and see where you need to ensure there are backup arrangements. Try to open the bathroom door while using crutches – in most places, it’s almost impossible. Also train your employees that people with temporary or permanent disabilities really do have special requirements. Those people aren’t just being a pain in the butt. The airline employee I mentioned above, once he found out the elevator was broken, kept telling me to take the escalator. He said it about three times, and I kept saying, but I CAN’T take the escalator. I physically couldn’t. I would have fallen down and hurt myself even worse. Also, post signs that indicate the location of other elevators, just in case the one you’re standing in front of is broken.
One more thought before I move on, curb cuts. Many sidewalks have curb cuts so you can get onto the sidewalk (without a handrail, it’s impossible to get up stairs or onto/off of curbs so you need the curb cut). Look for the appropriate spot to get onto the sidewalk before you head over. Sometimes it’s all the way at the end of the block or in a weird spot you can’t easily get to. Often, there isn’t one. If you don’t have an easy way to get onto the sidewalk by yourself, you’ll have to ask for someone willing to give you an arm to hold on to. Otherwise, you’ll just have to go home because you’re not going to be able to get up there.
I have a lot more examples, because I went out fairly often, but they all boil down to the same thing – it’s almost impossible to get around when you have any kind of issue that impedes movement. So if you’re reading this and you are currently going through the cast/boot/crutches process, you may wish to stay home if possible. You could also do some research ahead of time about accommodations for disabled, just so you are prepared for any possibility.
WORKING IN REAL ESTATE WITH A BROKEN ANKLE
And now, to switch gears. The following will only be of interest to other real estate agents. I wanted to share whether having a broken ankle or leg gets in the way of being able to properly conduct real estate business.
The answer is YES! It does indeed.
As many of you know, I’m a relatively new real estate agent, who changed my name and moved to a new area in the middle of last year. I’m still in the process of building a new list of contacts in my new area, and I need to be able to get out and meet people. For the people I am currently helping to find a rental or a new home, I need to be able to show them properties. And for the homes I’d like to list, I need to be able to get out and view the homes, meet with the owners, come back again with a proposal. For all of this, I need to be able to jump in the car when needed and drive to appointments. I need to be able to review second floors and third floors and attics and basements.
What couldn’t I do?
Obviously, since I couldn’t drive, all those activities were seriously impacted. I was able to do some showings, but it was extremely difficult. First, I needed to get a willing driver (luckily one lives with me, but time for showings was very limited). Then, I needed to be able to actually SHOW the houses. I didn’t do well with this, since some homes I hadn’t been able to preview, and therefore I didn’t know what the upstairs looked like (or basement/etc) and I had difficulty getting up/down stairs. If the handrails are not there, or are two fat, too low, etc., it’s nearly impossible. So I did do showings, but it was tough and I wasn’t as effective as I could have been. Also, I was not able to do any listing appointments, and I didn’t even pursue them (and again, I’m new, so they didn’t pursue me either).
What could I do?
So what DID I do? What WAS I able to do to help move my business along?
- Contact, contact, contact.
- Make phone calls.
- Investigate properties for customers and clients online.
- Follow-up on leads.
- Send market reports and other materials out to my mailing list.
- Research about real estate areas I wanted to learn more about.
- Take tutorials on new lead router systems and other real estate updates.
I used the time to do those things I still COULD do, but I simply had to let a lot of activities slide. So yes, having a broken ankle set me back a bit, but I’m hopeful the activities I was able to do will pay off long term. I was a new agent in a new location with a broken ankle. If you are also, just know there are still many things that CAN be done. Do those and try not to worry too much about the things you cannot get to. Eventually, your broken ankle will heal, and you’ll be able to jump back into business with both feet.
Thanks for reading, and if you wish to review the other ankle related blogs, they are listed below.
- 1) Part 1 of 5: http://wp.me/p1le37-7D
- 2) Part 2 of 5: http://wp.me/p1le37-7V
- 3) Part 3 of 5: http://wp.me/p1le37-86
- 4) Part 4 of 5: http://wp.me/p1le37-8e
- Emergency Room Visit: http://wp.me/p1le37-6Z
- Lessons from Invalid: http://wp.me/p1le37-71
- Broken Ankle: Epilogue. http://wp.me/p1le37-ff