Last updated: April 2022
The term 'walking stick' conjures images of high-hat gentleman strolling the streets of London. 'Walking stick' sure sounds better than ‘cane,’ doesn’t it? Most of us wouldn’t object to a walking stick, but using a cane takes a different mental turn.
Canes: A family affair
I grew up in a multi-generational home, and I watched my grandfather use the same wooden stick for over 40 years. He lost a leg in a railroad accident and as an amputee with a crude prosthetic, he was dependent on that cane. It is now a prized possession of one of my sisters and you can feel the well-worn thumb indentation in its wooden curve at the top. It wasn’t fancy – just a wood cane but it served my grandfather well.
About two decades ago, my husband had a hip replacement and he also had to get a cane. His wasn’t one of those wooden ones, but instead, it had a fancy aluminum shaft. It was considered fashionable because it was gold-toned and had a brown handle instead of the customary aluminum-colored cane of the times. He no longer needs to use it as a walking aid, but we still have that cane. In fact, it still sits close by in case I need to use it.
Walking assistance for MS
Along comes my MS and the need for me to have a walking aid, and I turned to the trusty cane. By now the marketplace for canes had exploded and just choosing which style was a tough choice, let alone what color. Yes, I said color because canes come in an explosion of kaleidoscope hues and patterns. I treated picking out a cane just like I used to pick out shoes and why settle for one when you can have multiple?
The wide and fashionable world of canes
Walking sticks/canes come in a variety of styles and sizes. You’ve certainly seen the television ads for the cane with the foot that adjusts to your terrain as you walk, using a swivel mechanism. I haven’t tried that model, but I gave the wide bottom cane a try for a while. I have also used the collapsible canes that are suited for travel and the rigid canes which give me the necessary support.
My collection of canes is a variety of styles, colors, and finishes. I have one resting in just about every corner of my home, keeping them always handy just in case it is needed. Sometimes they even gather in small groups, as if they are having their own clandestine meetup in the corner. My own hip replacement surgery was supposed to eliminate my dependency on a walker and get me back to using a cane, but that transition is coming along slower than hoped. For now, my canes are used for brief times, but I am mainly trusting a walker to keep me upright and moving.
Coming to terms with mobility issues
For many of us, MS has slowly created new challenges for us, particularly in the area of mobility. I know that is definitely true for me. I went from walking without a care in the world and never having to think about taking the next step, to always having a cane within reach, and now to grabbing my rollator walker for better footing.
A positive perspective on walking assistance
Many people are hesitant to get a walking aid, such as a cane. They might view it as surrendering to MS. I looked at it from a different vantage – using a cane helped me conquer my new limitations with MS instead, and keeps me safe from falling. I also embraced my cane as an accessory to my wardrobe, making it much like a walking stick but with a practical purpose. No matter what you call it, if you need help to stay upright, consider getting a cane but be sure to make it one that fits you and your personality.
Wishing you well,
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