My birthday was looming and my birthday twin (you know that anyone who shares your same birth date and year is your b-day twin, right?) Kerranna was going to be in town in NYC. We wanted to spend the day together to celebrate, but I knew that with the way my walk had deteriorated recently there was no way I would be able to handle walking around the city without assistance. The time had come. I needed a cane.
I had a doctor recommend that I get a cane back when I was first investigating what was causing my gait issues as an adult. He said any falls meant I needed help, because any fall could cause injuries that could then make walking even more difficult for me. I brushed it off 1. because I was 24 and NO 24 year old wants to walk around with a cane, let alone in Paris with a cane! Yes, I was living in Paris when all this stuff started to really go down. 2. It seemed so cumbersome. Living in a city you need your hands to carry your groceries, hold your purse, get out your metro card. The thought of having to do those things and deal with a cane in my hand was so unappealing.
Fast forward 7 years and my walk was considerably worse at this point. The thought of having to carry something in my hand all day vastly paled in comparison to the thought of falling, or not being able to get around on our super fun birthday-twin celebration day. Also, I was turning 31 and was already married- age, and a secure relationship really have a profound affect on a person’s confidence, at least it did on mine. My husband was actually the one to suggest we go cane shopping. The repulsed feelings I had in my 20’s at the thought of using a cane, were now non existent. The comment was a soft blow to my ego, but I knew he was right so I nodded my agreement, and that weekend we went to a medical supply store to find a cane.
The store we chose was right around the corner from our apartment. I got the name from an older woman in our apartment complex. We met in the elevator and she was using a cane with the cutest butterfly pattern. I complimented her cane, asked where she got it, and tucked that little nugget of information away for one day and finally that day had come. Based on her cane I had higher expectations of the store. It was pretty depressing when I walked in. A lot of walkers, scooters, electric recliners, and those things that go over your toilet so you don’t have to squat so far to sit down. The site was overwhelming because I saw it as foreshadowing of what my life will be like, and I was not ready to thing about it yet. Then this rough looking old store cat rubbed up on my legs, I bent down to pet her and was brought out of my funk.
I had not done my research at all into what to look for in a cane, do I need that off-centered hook thing? Don’t you just need a stick with a handle? How about one shaped like a candy cane? Should I get a fold up one? What about the one with the 3 pegs on the bottom? Hey look, this one has a seat attachment! And an umbrella?!
I decided that the offset canes with a cushioned handle were the most comfortable, but was not finding a pattern I really liked. Realizing that I would just have to make do with the options at hand I resigned to getting one that at least had some purple on it- my favorite color. I told Patrick I was ready and let’s just go check out. Then he pulled it out. Purple and pink polka-dotted perfection! She was mine, I just knew it! I put down whatever was in my hand, grabbed his selection and I made a bee line for the till. The mangy old cat hung out with me at check out, and then out we walked (me and Patrick, not the cat) proud owner of a new fabulous cane.
The next weekend I boarded the Mega Bus at the good old Rensselaer train station and headed down to the city. The ride was mostly ok except the very end. I forgot how bumpy the last bit into the city is. Not big bumps, little ones like you get when you drive over those annoying strips on the highway that are to wake you up if you have veered out of your lane and into the shoulder. The bus was vibrating from those little bumps and when other things vibrate I get spazzy. Stiff muscles from a 3 hour drive in a cramped bus seat + 10 minutes of vibrations = I was MESSED UP! I was also more grateful for my cane than I ever thought I would be.
Once we parked I managed to get myself down the stairs of the double-decker and onto 10th street. But my legs felt like they were VIBRATING. My stomach felt queasy, and even with the help of my cane I could barely make it out of the way of the passengers and pedestrians on the sidewalk. I managed to get myself tucked away in the corner of a building so I could regroup- stretch my legs, sip some water, eat a sugary snack anything to help calm down my muscles! Nothing really worked. I waited, located the resto my friend was at, and just decided to go for it.
I cannot tell you how grateful I was for that cane on that day. I NEVER would have made it around the city without it. Whatever was going on in my legs after that bus ride I had never felt before and did not know how to cope with it. I was grateful for the cane to assist me through whatever was happening with my body so I could walk to the restaurant, and I was also grateful how others GOT OUT OF MY WAY when they saw me bumbling along with my cane. It was like a sign saying LOOK OUT, HERE I COME, MAKE WAY FOR THE QUEEN!
Finally I made it to the restaurant. My legs calmed down a little bit during the walk, but they were still keyed up. It made hopping up on to the bar stool even more complicated than usual, but I made it work. Kerranna and I had lunch and then headed out to explore the city and enjoy the day together. Eventually my leg function got closer to normal, and I was still extremely grateful for my cane.
That night I headed home on the last train back to Albany. It was a MUCH smoother ride than the bus down and I know I will never be able to take a bus to the city again- so not worth it for me!
Having a fun day to look forward to made buying and using my cane easier than if I just had to start using it on the regular. It was like when I bought my hiking poles in preparation for one of my first dates snowshoeing with Patrick. Instead of just needing a cane because there is something wrong with me, the cane was a device that I got to use to have a great birthday with my best friend. That is exactly the mentality I have about my cane and any other assistive device to this day -they are tools we get to use to live our lives the fullest.