This is far from a comprehensive piece, but I wanted to start pulling together data points on what I've learned over the last few weeks. I'm not claiming any of the stuff is original, but I can claim an "organic" understanding of it now!
1) The diminished/complete loss of situation awareness, which wildly skews the awareness/avoidance equation. When I started walking on crutches, it was a struggle. For a start, it hurt like hell. Pain has a way of focusing the attention...on the pain. Secondly, at least initially there is a major gut-level fear of falling. After all, I was just coming out of the hospital where people had labeled to the tune of many thousands of dollars to put Humpty together again. With the rigid leg brace, which hindered a normal walking motion, my focus tended to be down, on placing the crutch tips securely.
Remember in TRAIL SAFE we talked about how one of the greatest fallacies people have about their own abilities is the idea they have unlimited awareness, unlimited focus. Need to concentrate on 2 things at once? No problem! Just dial up little more focus! Except focus is fundamentally limited. The analogy we used in TRAIL SAFE is from shooter/trainer John Shaw, with whom I co-worte YOU CAN'T MISS way back when.
His apology is that everyone is issue $1 worth of concentration...100 pennies. There are NO MORE pennies...just that 100. The only choice we actually have is where we place the pennies. There's a Zen saying something to the effect that, "When you walk, just walk; when you sit, just sit. But whatever you do, don't wobble." When we divide up the pennies, we begin to lose focus. That's why there is no suck thing as multitasking"," rather, we are doing several tasks sequentially, and poorly.
On crutches, especially in the beginning, about 99 of my pennies were stacked in a pile that read, "DON'T FALL DOWN YOU IDIOT!" If a predator had been watching me, the first thought in his head would be, "Prey."
2) There's a limit to the number of things hands can handle. Typically, I have 2 guns — a pocket pistol that goes into my right pocket the moment a wake up, then is transferred to the left picket when I put on my "real" gun. For a long time I've been singing either a Sneaky Pete magnetic latch holster or a SafePacker when on the road. At home I use an OWB...if I'm just going to be around the property, I'll use a Blade-Tech paddle or on the bigger revolvers one of the leather Ted Blocker strong-sides.
The crutches add a second level of things I need my hands to do — maintain control of the crutches. Secondly, the crutches themselves add a level of complexity in accessing the self-defense tools. I'd say pocket pistols are out the window, at least for me. Remember those pennies? Suddenly I have 40 pennies on the crutch, 50 pennies fumbling around in my pocket and 10 pennies left to scan for saber-toothed tigers.
In addition, both OWBs and IWBs kept banging against the crutches. I felt that the handle of the crutch also presented an obstacle to a clean draw stroke — once again, I was spreading my pennies across the table. Not so much appendix or cross-draw. However (and, once again, this whole experience has been filled with surprises, like the Cracker Jack box from Hell), because I'm wearing a large leg brace that now requires maintenance on an hourly basis (lock it rigid for leg lifts; unlock it for quad tightening drills) I am defaulting to shorts (and it's getting colder) or yoga/sweat pants, neither of which have a belt.
My initial response has been to go to the much maligned shoulder holster. I have several shoulder holsters made for me by Survival Sheath Systems and, for heavier revolvers, Ted Blocker.
I'll take you through those systems in the next installment...