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My new cane.
I don’t love this exact cane. Not specifically. It is the concept of this cane that I love. This is an idea that I have been struggling with for some time, almost as long as I have been struggling with my identity as a PWD. “I’m not that kind of disabled”, I always told myself. “I’m over reacting”, I would say. I casually brought it up with The Guy now and then, and in the way that he has about him he would nod and wait for me to bring it up in a way that meant I was ready to talk about it, because he is not going to push me into something I am not ready to do (we had the same dance with my decision to begin using Vicodin for occasional pain relief again). Finally, after about three trips on the Seoul city subway than ended with me in tears on the seats reserved for PWD and the elderly barely able to move enough to make it home, I was ready to have that talk.
My legs and hips don’t always hurt, which is why I think I wasn’t really anxious to push myself to ask my doctor for a walking aid. I worried how it would look to other people to see me some days with one and some days without one. I worried about how it would look if I carried it at the beginning of the day because I didn’t need it yet but knew that I would need it by the middle…I basically worried about how everyone would think of this cane but me.
Getting it was no big deal. I made an appointment with the physical therapy clinic, they picked one out based on my height and the length of my arms, had me practice with it both walking and on stairs, taught me how to go up and down stairs, and told me to come back with any problems. It took a little getting used to, walking with it as if it were a part of me…but already I can feel the difference it has made in that one hip (and the subsequent joints that often hurt as a result of that hip pain).
Sure, I could do without absolute strangers jumping from across rooms to open doors for me or assist me with things, because, let’s be clear, the cane was intended to help me get a little more independence back, but I will work on it. I am also having to explain the sudden appearance of it to people who know us, including every cab driver w/ base authorization because they all know us (we live in a rather unique place)…but I am getting over the awkwardness. This cane has allowed me to walk without as much pain. It isn’t perfect, and I haven’t used it on a high pain day, but it is a step. I also realized pretty quickly that I will have to exchange hip freedom for some (I don’t know how much yet) shoulder pain, as the arm in which I use the cane is not used to doing that work.
Overall, however, this was a good decision. That is how care management goes. You have to weigh the gains against the costs, and decide what you are willing to give up (keeping my disability invisible from people I don’t want to explain it to, for example) in exchange for something I want (more mobility and independence in that mobility). These things, medications, mobility aids, etc., are meant to help PWDs improve our quality of life.
Also, now that we know what size cane I use The Guy has promised to find one that I will, indeed, love. Someone brilliant told me that little detail makes a ton of difference.