For most students, squeezing through crowded doorways and walking down steep stairs is an unconscious routine. However, with an injured limb, navigating through campus can be a daily ordeal. The stairs become precarious, and the hallways seem smaller with crutches. For students who were out due to sickness or injury, the pile of late work seems daunting.
For students with injuries, a few months of heightened difficulty awaits them when they return to school. Many, like senior Thomas Lee, who tore two ligaments in his knee and spent around two weeks leaving school early for checkups and surgery, must deal with the missed lessons and work accumulated in their time gone. Lee says, “I stopped going to practice for a while to just catch up and get things back together … The teachers were pretty understanding and allowed me to do makeup work and makeup tests.”
Many who have injured their legs find their transportation options limited. Junior Taylin Nguyen, who was on crutches in freshman year after injuring her foot, says, “[Being injured] was just really inconvenient because not only are you slower, but you have to take different routes to get places, which are usually longer routes, so it’s kind of a struggle all around.”
Lee concurs, saying that going around the school with crutches, especially during the busy times of brunch or lunch, was difficult, and he had to work to avoid crowds. “When I first got back to school and it was pretty hard for me to get around, I would stay in my third period during brunch, just to have brunch there instead of walking around,” says Lee. “I did usually take the outside routes even though they might’ve been longer, [because] being less crowded helped a lot.”
Crutches and other medical equipment take up a lot of room and can easily be jostled by accident when a student is in a crowd of students hurrying to class. Says sophomore Hannah Pearlman, who was in a cast from knee down during her freshman year, “During passing periods, not everyone was necessarily mindful that small bumps could really hurt.”
However, injured students also recall the kindness and consideration of some of their classmates as well. Many who saw people with crutches were quick to offer their help by opening doors or carrying backpacks and binders. “[Complete strangers] were just really generous in terms of opening doors for me, so I got to see how kind people really are,” says senior Margot Bellon, who broke her foot during her junior year.
After making way to a classroom, the experience inside yields a few other problems. “The first few days [the experience] was pretty bad,” recalls Lee. “I had a lot of surgery, a lot done in my knee so there was a lot of swelling, and not being on ice for the entire day kind of hurt. I did have to leave school a couple times because I just couldn’t deal with it anymore.”
Freshman Gabriela Martinez, who is on crutches from a softball that hit her shin, empathizes with the pain and adds that her injury also negatively affected her sleeping schedule. “The pain would keep me up [at night] or wake me up earlier, and in class I would get sharp pains and hold the desk tight and have my head down.”
The physical setbacks and limitations of an injury can also cause psychological pain. Says Bellon, “I was frustrated that I couldn’t take my license test, I had to wait another two months to take it because I broke my foot and couldn’t drive. And I guess at a time when I was supposed to be feeling very independent and getting my license, just being able to maneuver myself, getting [personal records] in track, I felt defeated.”
Nguyen also was disappointed because her injury prevented her from playing sports she had originally planned to play when she came to Aragon. “That was supposed to be my way to make friends,” she explains. “Because I was new and I didn’t know anyone, it was hard for me to make friends fast because I wasn’t doing anything that interacted with other people.”
Luckily, coping with the formidable challenges of with an injury or illness can also create a sense of accomplishment. Bellon recounts that, even though she was offered a ride around campus in the golf cart, she prefered her crutches. “I liked the arm workout I was getting. Not going to lie, I was kind of obsessed with fitness. “
While steering through school halls with an injury is an inconvenience both physically and educationally, at the end of the day, overcoming an injury is ultimately a learning experience.