Compiled by Kathi from email support group messages
Using a cane becomes a necessary reality for many of us. For some of us, this decision will be easy. We recognize we need it, buy one, and off we go.
For others, however, adopting a cane can be fraught with nervousness, embarrassment, anxiety and even shame. We may put it off for far too long, risking our safety and reducing our mobility, ease, and personal comfort.
Here are some good reasons to get a cane:
From Liz Nussear:
Below is an article from one individual who has shared her experiences of adopting a cane, and a collection of comments our email groups.
When I was a child of 4, I went on a walk with my Grandmother. We walked down the street to the corner store, which had candy that I loved. I noticed her "funny " walk, which was quickly brushed off when I questioned it. We never discussed further. Little did I know…
My Grandmother moved in to our home when I was 8. She bought a wheelchair after breaking a hip. I rode the wheelchair until my Mother told me to leave it, saying that, "you shouldn’t use it till you have to use one." Little did I know…
It is now 35 years later, and I am the 3rd generation of known HSPers. Recently, my balance was becoming a major problem. I used the walls at home for support; however, expensive new wallpaper was going to put a stop to that practice. The more critical issue, though, was my difficulty at work getting around. I couldn’t support myself with the walls, my desk, the copier, the printer and then the fax machine to walk over to obtain a cup of coffee and then walk it safely back to my desk.
My mother, who by 73 was using 2 canes, suggested I purchase a cane to help with my gait and balance. I had been a member of the HSP group Listserv, where others shared their experiences and thoughts regarding assistive devices, so the cane issue was not foreign to me.
I purchased my first cane from House of Canes. It was beautiful – colorful and full of expression. However, it was quite comfortable on the chair in the living room. It stayed there for several days, because it didn’t think it wanted to go with me to work.
After some nudging from members of the HSP Listserv group, it finally left the house and rode with me to work. However, it stayed in the back seat for a couple of days. After more encouragement, it finally walked in to work with me one early spring morning. Once others saw it, there was complete acceptance. They picked it up and said it was beautiful. Little did I know…
Others see the difficulties we have with HSP, and at times maybe their eyes are "clearer" than ours are. Denial keeps us from having things that make our lives easier, more accepting – not only for ourselves, but also to society. I am sorry I fought my third leg for so long. Little did I know…
This has been an interesting journey, full of surprises, and challenges. I look to my third leg as an assistive helper. I can lean on it, open push-button handicap doors, chase mice at work, kill bugs, straighten ceiling tiles…one never knows. I have now purchased my 2nd cane, a very good expression of who Liz is, as it should be. Little did I know…. Thank God I know now…
Excerpts from discussions regarding canes
Using a cane for the first time Shared by Nancy:
I started using one out shopping and out to eat, etc. without much problem because I didn’t figure I would run into anyone I knew. I didn’t care what strangers thought. I noticed in the mall that people didn’t really seem to care at all and actually were better about staying out of the way, doors, etc. than when I didn’t use a cane and people practically bowled me over and/or looked at me really weird. So, I saw immediate benefit there and used it for those situations from then on. Now, for work it was a different story. I didn’t interview for my new job with a cane but there was no trouble in seeing that I definitely have a serious limp or balance problem, etc. The idea of tripping and falling at work and knowing that I might be considered a liability was a motivating factor. I could ignore it no longer. How I managed to get myself ready for that big step was this: 1) ordered a pretty cane from House of Canes and 2) Picked out a date in advance that I committed to as “my first day at work with a cane”. Preparing for that day and getting geared up for it helped. My co-workers have been fine about it. It’s probably a relief for them too in that I’m safer. No one wants to see anyone get hurt. I love my new cane and was complimented on it just this evening as I went to into the pharmacy.
Shared by Kathi:
By the time I needed to start using the cane all the time when I went out, I had already stopped working. I left work the end of July last year, so it’s been almost a year now. I didn’t quit work because of HSP problems, but I have to admit that I knew the time was coming where I’d start to need to use it, so there was a little relief that I was leaving work before I’d have to use it at work.
I first used a walking aid three years ago when I decided to start doing some short nature hikes. I love the outdoors and really enjoy nature walks, but never made the time to enjoy that pleasure. There’s a lovely state park just two miles away with many walking trails and I would go there on occasion to just enjoy the scenery, take photos, or park at the lake and enjoy the view. But I never tried any of the trails. The shortest is a half a mile, and with that help, I figured it was was doable and probably the one mile one, too.
So, I worked hard to find some WWW good walking shoes that I could wear and bought a hiking stick. That wasn’t really a cane……… I thought. LOL. I’m so glad I did that. I really enjoy nature walks.
Two years ago, I bought a folding cane for when Ed and I went to Busch Gardens. We went to Florida to visit his folks and did a Tampa Connection and visited Busch Gardens also. It helped a lot to steady balance while waiting to get on rides as well as the extended walking. I figured that wasn’t a "real cane", either, LOL, since it was a fold up cane.
As my legs started getting a bit worse, I finally bought my first real cane shortly after that. I picked a pretty one from House of Canes. I started to use it when I did Conferences and Connections, since I was standing and runnning around a lot at those. It really helped a lot.
I started everyday use of it where I didn’t think I’d see anyone or where I knew I really needed the extra help. Like to the mall or vacations or when I’d be standing a lot. As time went on, I could see how I was needing it more.
About 6 months ago, I realized I really needed to use one all the time outside of the house. My legs had gotten to the point that it wasn’t a choice, it was a need. I bought another cane, online, from one of the stores that is at the SPF Shopping Mall. It’s also foldable and the height is adjustable and the handle is pretty and it’s a flat one that is really easy to use. It was hard to first use it in front of friends, but once I did it, I realized I had made more of a big deal about it and it’s been no big deal ever since. Everyone else knew it was needed and a good idea.
I’ve gotten used to using it and you are right, everyone is great about it. The world is full of nice people. I still feel a little funny when someone I haven’t seen since I started using it sees me. But all of our good friends have now seen it. And it feels part of who I am, now.
Saturday, September 8th, 2012
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