Crutch has two meanings that come to mind for me. The first refers to the long pointed object that people use to help them walk following usually some lower extremity trauma. Crutches were once made exclusively of wood but these days I don’t think you can find a wood crutch anywhere outside of a museum. These days’ crutches are made most often of lightweight metal and are easily adjusted. One of my duties at my last nursing job was to adjust crutches and teach correct crutch walking. This was never one of my strong points and I would often foist it off on one of our care partners who were much better at teaching it correctly than I was.

One population that seems to often have a crutch or two amongst their shopping cart belongings is the homeless. Seriously if you live in a neighborhood like I do with many homeless check out there carts that will often contain a crutch or two evidence of the rather rough reality of being homeless. Perhaps I was checking out this homeless guy’s trappings on my way to Trader Joe’s the other day when he said in a rather friendly tone “ how’s it going grandpa”. The first retort that came to mind was well “fuck you too” but I quickly realized I was 20 or 30 years his senior, quite grey and walking with a bit of a limp from a recent knee sprain for which no crutch was needed. So I did respond by saying I was doing just fine. His totally toothless grin back to me seemed to say he was also having a good day too with the recent cold and snow gone and the sun was shining  which made living on the streets more tolerable I am sure. Oh and he was busy putting something into a small pipe which I doubt was tobacco but something that would have made his day even better.

I personally have a rather rich history of broken bones but all have been above the waist so I have never had to use crutches. Collar bones broken on three occasions and one broken arm give testament to the fact that I was quite the ruffian in my younger years. No broken bones for me once I reached puberty perhaps another positive aspect to getting in touch with my real sexuality. That would be interesting research – how many broken bones before and after coming out. The number could I suppose go either way depending on how often one got beat up for being queer.

Another way the word crutch is often used is to indicate a possible dependency. An example might be ”he uses alcohol as a crutch to deal with his crappy life”.

Or you could substitute a myriad of things for the word alcohol. For me personally these days the crutch would be sugar though I do also like me some food with fat and salt. The sugar for me though is what releases the dopamine and serotonin in my brain in the same manner as heroin. Though nowhere near as powerful as heroin a real dependency to sugar can result.  Intense cravings take over for me especially after the sun goes down when all self-control goes out the window and I go to my freezer and pull out a crutch courtesy of Ben and Jerry. No walking instructions are needed just a spoon and a comfy chair.