How many of you are in your 20-30 somethings, rockin a cane or walking stick? You found yourself in the middle of a health crisis, and now a cane or walking stick has been introduced as your new best friend.
Do you recall your reaction when handed down the order? Were you shocked? Accepting? Pissed? Did you refuse to use the “walking aid?” Can I share with you something personal?
My last Vestibular Rehab appointment ended in a mini meltdown. Things were moving along just fine until the closing of the session.
The PT(physical therapist) casually throws out the statement, “Marissa, would you consider using the walking stick all the time?” She followed up with some additional words, but I tuned her out. I offered a quick, (and what I felt was compelling) persuasive, rebuttal, “I am in my early thirties! What is everyone going to think?” Next came the ugly cry.
The ugly cry must have been disgustingly ugly because the seemingly stern, AWESOME, physical therapist let out a few tears. In the middle of crying, trying to justify why I could not use a “walking aid,” I was gripping onto a nordic walking stick!
She calmed me down by agreeing to pump the breaks on the idea if it became a source of anxiety or stress. She didn’t hesitate to follow up with a statement reminding me how often I used the walking stick during our appointment.
Babe to the rescue! He offered the suggestion of starting off slow. “We will start by putting it in the trunk when we go out!” We all agreed.
When things settled down, I was offered a piece off advice I could not tune out…”Marissa, give people an opportunity to extend you grace!” The only message swirling around my head was that people were going to judge me. A condition considered invisible was about to become visible. That small glimpse of hope for a cure vanished.
It’s not like I’m unfamiliar with walking sticks! I take them on walks around the neighborhood and the park. When I head to a public place, I leave them at home and replace the sticks with babe. Using them all the time feels like a different ballgame.
Why a “walking aid?” According to trusty Wikipedia, “walking aids,” provide …
- Improved Stability
- Reduces lower-limb loading (If you are like me, you questioned this one. Basically, it means lower impact placed on affected limbs)
- Generating movement (Larger joints and muscles are used during walking and the aid helps take the pressure off. )
From what I gather my vestibular (balance) and somatosensory systems are jacked…the ultimate miss communication going on! Have you lost your balance and found yourself immediately drawn to the wall? Same idea. I am not using the walking sticks solely for balance support. I am using them because I need immediate feedback!
ANYTHING that provides immediate feedback helps me function. So you will often find me touching walls, gripping the shopping basket, holding onto babe’s shoulder, leaning against walls. Since I can’t build a fort around myself, there is clinching my teeth, hands in my pocket, pacing, etc. I had no clue I was adapting for deficits until the PT mentioned I looked like a moving chicken…head bobbing and all!
I am wrapping my head around the idea of using a single nordic walking stick,( basically a modified cane) all the time. I am going to start slow. Hoping SOMEONE can help convince me to go-all-in, so I can bypass this introductory phase and ACCEPT THE FACT!
P.S. Why does the word “Cane” have to sound so harsh! Say the word out-loud and see what I mean! Now say the words…CANDY cane, SUGAR cane, DEAN Cain( 20-something year old version). That sounds much more soothing.