The little piece of bone on the X-ray printout mocked me as the doctor said the words “surgery” and “crutches” and “MRI.”

I sat on the hospital bed in shock – did I seriously just break my leg? Was the X-ray wrong? Could that little fragment just stop its field trip through my knee joint and go back where it belongs, please?

Until this year, I hadn’t broken a bone or needed crutches – I’ve led a cautious life. So it’s been hard for me to transition from a life of hustling all over campus to months of ice, crutches, pain pills and frustration.

I cannot think of a campus more ill-fitted for crutches, with constant topographical changes that make my abs and arms scream in pain just typing these words. We all like to complain about walking up those hills, but you don’t know hills until you’ve had to conquer them on crutches.

The other day, as I was slowly hobbling up one of those dreaded hills, a random guy asked if I wanted help carrying my backpack. It's been a pattern – there hasn’t been one day during this first week on crutches that I haven’t had a complete stranger come up to me and ask if I needed help with anything, and that’s pretty impressive.

The compassion of my fellow Volunteers has amazed me, but I’m confused by the struggle the university itself has showing similar empathy.

Many of the handicap entrances are on weird corners of buildings, making me crutch completely out of my way to get inside. Some elevators are in strange areas, like in the middle of the PCB kitchen. Many buildings, especially on the Hill, don’t have elevators at all, so if I had a class there I’d have to climb up who knows how many flights of stairs with a knee that can’t bend.

I know completely changing the interior of all of the buildings on campus would add to the already monumental construction budget we have, but I hope the new buildings take this into consideration.

Disability Services has been wonderful to me, and during the weekday the Access bus gets to me with very little wait time. I’m thankful, because I live pretty deep in the Fort and honestly wouldn’t be able to get to class otherwise.

However, once 6 p.m. hits, the Access bus becomes the T-Link – a free-for-all. I have to share my sole means of transportation with the entirety of campus and the Fort, and that really irks me.

Can’t one bus stand by for those of us who really have no other way of getting anywhere? 

I understand the Fort is a place one might not want to traverse in the dark, but it’s even worse on crutches. Many a time I would just walk through the Fort out of impatience, but now I don’t have that option. Thank goodness the weather has been warmer, or I’d have to stand outside in the cold waiting for that bus.

And what about the weekends? The Access doesn’t run on Saturday or Sunday, and the T-Link only runs after 6 p.m., making my Sunday morning shift at the library virtually impossible for me to get to without bumming my friends for rides.

And the thing is, I’m going to be on crutches for maybe two months tops. Some people rely on these things for their four-plus years here, and I don’t know how they deal with it. Seriously, my heart goes out to them, because I’ve lost virtually all of my patience after a week.

And with the construction making this campus more pedestrian-friendly, having the Access won’t be very helpful at all. Will they switch to golf carts? Just make us fend for ourselves?

Here’s a Big Orange Big Idea: We have the opportunity with all of this construction to be truly groundbreaking when it comes to disability services and accessibility. Let’s not squander it. Let’s not take “good enough” as an answer when it comes to disability services. 

Let’s go above and beyond, because school is hard enough without having to worry about getting around.

Jordan Achs is a junior in journalism and electronic media. She can be reached at jachs@utk.edu.