Feature: Another day on crutches

by Jayce Ringwald

6 o’clock in the morning is too early to wrestle with crutches, but this has been part of Heather Ringwald’s morning routine for two months. They’re a longtime friend of Heather’s having been on and off them for minor sprains and bruises since 7th grade, but they’re unwelcome all the same.

But this is the longest she’d been on them. On September 18th, Heather fell down the stairs of her Concord home, stairs she’d moved back to New Hampshire in 2012 to have again, her family reminded her. “I didn’t even fall down the whole flight. I was halfway down them when I slipped,” she said.

If that wasn’t frustrating, her husband insisting he wasn’t a doctor every time she tried to get an opinion was enough to push her over the edge of rage. If she does anything by herself, she’s too independent; if she needs help, suddenly people aren’t qualified enough to comment. Typical.

A trip to Urgent Care landed her in Concord Orthopedic. Her right ankle was sprained, but neither doctor she saw that day could confirm if her knee was fractured or just swollen. It wouldn’t be until the next week that the orthopedic surgeon could x-ray her again. Her knee was dislocated – not as bad as a fracture, but still bad.

(Photo: Jayce Ringwald)

“All of this happened five days before President Mooney’s installation,” Heather said. “I felt so bad because everybody needed me.”

While Heather has a dark, heavy wooden desk in Peterson Manor, she doesn’t spend much time behind it. Being President Mooney’s assistant means checking in with other departments upstairs, setting up meetings in Marulli, and making trips to the copier right around the corner from her office. “Why can’t I ever just hurt my arm?” Heather asked, propping her crutches against the wall before punching in her print code.

It’s usually so busy that Heather forgets to eat lunch (even when I bring her something). A day spent rescheduling a lunch for a travelling President Mooney, getting invites together for the faculty and staff holiday party, and planning event that won’t happen until January and May is considered quiet. “I wish I could say the earlier we come in, the earlier we get out, but…that’s a lie.”

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