Shopping with a Cane

I normally walk pretty well with no help. And on a good day, I bounce along just fine. I try to work out a few times a week just to keep things moving. But the last couple months have been different. I’ve been here before, but not for this long. My right leg doesn’t want to keep up, which makes me wobbly and unsteady. Then the exhaustion hits and I feel crossed-eyed until I can sit and rest a few minutes. You know the feeling: the drunk walk.

Walking problems were the beginning of my MS battle

Looking back, a walking problem was the beginning of my MS battle and is what sent me to the doctor. My primary care doctor sent me to a neurologist. Going to a neurologist may not have been a surprise to any of you, but that one thing sent me reeling. I had always been healthy and, in fact, the caregiver when anyone needed support. How on earth can I be sick enough to need a neurologist?!

The spinal tap confirmed MS

And then the year-long search and innumerable tests and blood draws until the spinal tap confirmed MS. I already knew. Google and I had a close relationship during this time, and he kept showing me MS when I searched my symptoms. I was a month shy of my 60th birthday at the time of diagnosis.

Then Ocrevus came along...

Over the next few years my progression has gotten steadily worse. I tried different medications, but none were aggressive enough according to my neurologist who specialized in MS and myasthenia gravis. But then Ocrevus came on the market. I was her first patient to use this new drug.

More on this topic

Ocrevus was working well for me when my husband and I moved across the country. I had been on this drug for two and a half years. My new neurologist told me I have primary-progressive MS, but Ocrevus was doing its job and I was moving along just fine.

Started using a cane

Which brings me back to today. I’m due for my next infusion in a few weeks and hopefully, this difficulty in walking will go away after that. But in the meantime, I started using a cane when out.

Using assistive devices in public is an eye-opener

Now, I have to say, if you’ve never experienced using an assistive device in public, it is an eye-opener on two levels:

Vanity: It is very difficult to finally accept that you need assistance, whether it be a cane, a walker, or a wheelchair. And God forbid that you run into anyone you know! How embarrassing that would be! Except, it would be more embarrassing to appear drunk or to even fall.

So I sucked it up and started using the cane this week. But only when I’m out alone. When my husband is with me his arm is my cane. People think we are a sweet, loving old couple when in reality we are just holding each other up.

Convenience: You know that when you use a cane, you basically are giving up one hand and one arm, right? Try to use only one hand to do anything. Not so easy! I only shop in stores with carts. That helps me walk steadily and one can put a cane in the basket.

So I needed to shop for just two things today. Took my cane and off I went. Those two things became six. Six large items. Three large bags. And my purse. And my cane. I do not have enough hands for this.

Lessons learned while shopping with my cane

I learned a few things today:

  1. Get a smaller, cross-body purse.
  2. Make sure the cane has a wrist strap for holding when checking out so that it will not fall loudly to the tile floor even though you’ve propped it up against the edge of the counter.
  3. Put your items in the cart to carry to the car. Yes, you have to bring the cart back and then walk back to the car, but in the long run it is worth it. Except you shopped too long and now that wall of exhaustion has hit you square in the face.
  4. Take with you a friend, daughter, husband, sister, or any person with two free and working hands.
  5. Shop online!

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