Simple tasks suddenly become a lot less simple when you can’t use all your body parts. That’s what Northwestern students Emily Wohlers and Isaac Ruiz learned when they injured bones earlier this semester.
Wohlers, a sophomore, slipped on a patch of ice in January when she was walking to breakfast. Realizing her fall had ripped her tights, Wohlers turned around to go back to her apartment and change.
That’s when she slipped again, this time landing on her wrist.
“I fell, got up, turned around, literally took one step and fell again,” Wohlers said.
Unaware she had injured herself, Wohlers continued her day as usual. It wasn’t until that afternoon that she visited Orange City Hospital, where doctors discovered she had fractured her elbow.
Ruiz, a freshman, injured himself in February during wrestling practice when another NW wrestler pinned his leg. A few days after the accident, Ruiz received an X-ray and learned his leg had been fractured.
According to Ruiz, doctors believed his fracture was mild enough for him to continue normal activity.
“They told me I could do whatever I wanted as long as I could handle the pain,” he said.
Soon after his hospital visit, though, Ruiz further injured the same leg at dance team practice. It was now broken.
Doctors gave Ruiz crutches, but snow and ice made them impractical. He eventually went without his crutches, opting to limp instead.
A California native, Ruiz was unaccustomed to snow and ice. His broken leg made adapting to the conditions especially challenging.
Wohlers experienced challenges at RUSH rehearsals because of her injury. With her arm in a sling, she initially struggled to keep her balance while dancing.
RUSH choreographers Andrew Stam and Amber Amundson decorated Wohlers’ sling to coordinate it with the steampunk style of their dance.
“I got asked a lot if my sling was for real, or just a part of my costume,” she said. “A lot of people liked it, so that was cool.”
For Wohlers, a bigger challenge was a task she had previously taken for granted.
“It was my stupid coat that upset me the most, not dancing in RUSH,” she said. “Putting on that coat was the worst.”
Unable to zip up her coat by herself, Wohlers relied on the help of her friends.
“It was so embarrassing. I felt like a child sometimes,” she said.
For both Wohlers and Ruiz, eating in the cafeteria presented challenges. With her dominant right arm injured, Wohlers had to eat left-handed. Because of his limp, Ruiz needed friends to carry his food for him.
Other daily activities that Wohlers and Ruiz found difficult included showering, brushing teeth, opening doors, climbing stairs and exercising.
However, their injuries came with a silver lining. Both Wohlers and Ruiz now feel more comfortable asking for help because of their dependence on others during their injuries.
“It makes you more humble,” Wohlers said. “I learned to give up control to other people.”
“I’m pretty independent, so I usually don’t like getting help,” Ruiz said. “After a while, I learned how to ask.”