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limping, hobbling, crutching, lurching

Being an English nerd, I've been wondering about the most appropriate word to describe my current limited ability to move. I was thinking that limping sounded wrong, because my leg is (artificially) stiff, not limp, and I'm not dragging it along behind me. Hobbling means, in part, to restrict the movement of an animal such as a horse by tying its legs together, but I'm able to freely swing my leg at the hip so it still has a fairly large range of motion. I leaned towards "crutching" as the act of moving about on crutches, but I didn't believe that was actually a proper verb. So that left me with lurching, at least when moving without crutches, and that seemed to suit the abrupt, unsteady movement the brace forces upon my right leg. 

Now that I've done a little dictionary checking, it seems that the subtle distinctions I imagined among those words are not observed in practice. Dictionary.com, which gives results from a few dictionaries including Random House and Merriam-Webster, treats limp, hobble, and lurch as synonyms without making any particular distinctions, as does the Dictionary widget on my Mac, which uses the Oxford American Dictionary as its source. And although the Dictionary.com results seem to agree that "crutch" as a verb means to support something and requires an object—he crutches his body, the stick crutched the box open—the Dictionary widget is fine with using "crutch" to mean moving about on crutches.

In any case, as of today I will be lurching, or hobbling, or limping, but not crutching. The orthopedic doctor said that things look good, relatively speaking, and given that I'm able to fully (though carefully) flex my knee without pain or trouble, he feels the best course it to just let it heal naturally. However, the bone is still broken on the bottom edge, and putting stress on it by bending the knee with exertion could still snap the ligaments, which would then have to be reattached through surgery. So, I have to continue to wear the leg brace for at least another six weeks, and it could take another three to six months to fully heal—I think it was about three months for the knee to heal, but then another three months for the leg muscles to recover from the restricted movement. That means I won't be driving for at least six weeks, maybe three months or so. But, it's only flexing the knee muscles that's a risk, otherwise the leg is fine for bearing my weight. So the doctor said that I only had to use the crutches if I felt like I needed them, and that with winter weather coming on the crutches would probably be more burden than benefit. 

I'm hoping that by dispensing with the crutches, the soreness in my chest (particularly my sternum and the matching section of spine) will finally go away. Of course, I'm sure I'm not helping that by immediately heading out this afternoon with my laptop in my backpack to work at a coffee shop, but after two weeks mostly sitting at home, I was ready to be out for a while. Meanwhile, I just have to remember that I have to take stairs one leg at a time, leading right when going down, left when going up. 


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