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Confessions of a New Cane User

Posted on September 2nd, 2014 by Margit Novack
From www.movingsolutions.com | info@movingsolutions.com | 610-853-4300

I thought that using a cane would make me feel dimished.
Instead, it has made my life larger. 

 

The following is a guest post from Andrea Frayser of The Intentional Caregiver:

I have to make a confession. This has been the hardest post for me to write. I have sat down, time and again to put the words together and they just wouldn’t come. It has taken me weeks of prayer, of introspection and a swift kick in the butt to finally get this done. I guess the kick dislodged the words, so here we go…

cane

I use a cane. (Even typing that statement pulled at my heart.) Please understand that I have been fighting this inevitability for several years. I would rather rely on my husband, children and friends to prop me up, and yes, sometimes pick me up, as long as I did not have to use a cane.

I understand the benefits of using the device in my mind, and over the years, I have had many conversations with friends and clients convincing them to use their canes. But when it came down to me getting one – oh boy – all of that good sense just went to the wayside.

To me, the cane represented weakness, old age, and an inability to care for my family. Therefore when necessity prevailed and the need for the cane became apparent, it felt like accepting this device would also mean that I had to accept being weak, losing my vitality and not being able to do the thing I love the most- caring for my family. I really felt that using the cane would change people’s view of me from a fortress of strength and stability to a pile of dust, and I was not ready to accept that reality shift.

I needed some serious reinforcements to support me in this decision. My husband, who also happens to be my best friend, went with me to pick it out. After trying out several models I found one that suited me. It was young looking, sparkly and had a comfort grip handle. I used it to get to the car, where I proceeded to break down and cry. Partially because it was so much easier for me to get from the sidewalk to the car and I had less pain. Admitting that seemed like I was choosing my comfort over my family.

We went to Sam’s Club to pick up a few things, and my husband asked me if I wanted to “take ‘er for a spin” inside Sam’s. I couldn’t do it. So he graciously went in, while I stayed in the car and watched the people go by (yes, and to cry some more). To get my mind off of my “problem” I went on Facebook to see what was going on in other people’s lives. As I was looking down at my phone, a hand appeared through the window and a giant box of my favorite chocolates appeared, quickly followed by a kiss on the cheek. He went back into the store and shopped, leaving me time to dry my tears and think.

In my heart, I went back to holding my children’s hands when they were little to keep them safe. I realized that now that they are adults, we were still holding hands but they were doing it to keep ME safe. I also realized that my stubbornness in using the cane was keeping me dependent upon them and others, that in reality, they had slowly become my guardians and caregivers and that I was not really caring for their emotional health with my choice. By the time my husband had returned I had decided that I was going to try to make peace with this.

When we got home I decided to use my cane to walk to the door. My son saw me walking towards the house, he ran and opened the door, and said “Hey Mom, looking good!” (I cannot describe how good that felt.) When my daughters came to visit, they both ribbed me horribly (in my family that is a sign of acceptance and love), and I could sense the feeling of relief that came to them seeing me walk steadier (the jokes about no longer looking like a drunken sailor were also an indicator).

That night, when we sat down to read the bible and pray together, I asked them how they felt about my new accessory. They all agreed that they loved it because, it gave me freedom, and they would worry less about me because I had my “personal assistant” and that I could go back to being Mom again. Amazing how our own visions of ourselves can be so far off from what others really perceive.

I named my cane Whizzy- for two reasons. First it is because I can now “whiz” around from one place to another, without waiting for someone to steady me, and second as a reminder that “Wisdom is proved righteous by its works.” (Matthew 11:19) Every time I pick Whizzy up, I am reminded that it was the wisest choice, and that by using her, I am providing proof of Godly wisdom to myself and others – especially my children.

The response and support have been overwhelmingly positive. There are some who look at me with that look of: “why her?” The real question is: ”Why not me?” I deserve to be able to feel safe and secure, to reduce my physical pain, to not have to rely on people to keep me on my feet, (literally) and to have to dignity of being able to overcome my negative thinking and experience the emotional, physical and psychological freedom that comes with my lovely red cane – Whizzy.

5 Responses to “Confessions of a New Cane User”

Terri Rooney, Marketing Director/Country MeadowsSeptember 4th, 2014 at 11:55 am

What a wonderful, well written story! In my profession I deal with both seniors and their families who struggle with the need to use a cane or walker. I believe you have truly captured the emotional struggle of dealing with a life change such as this. I see many children who truly repect their parents choices but at the same time worry about their well-being. There are so many fine lines that are difficult to cross. Thank you so much for telling your story so beautifully! I will pass on your experience as a learning tool to other dealing with this difficult situation!

Margit NovackSeptember 4th, 2014 at 9:30 pm

Thank you Terry,
I added this as a guest post because I had the same thoughts. I also thought how using any assistive device, including hearing aids and walkers, must evoke the same mixed, complex emotions.
Regards
Margit

wonderful message about finding the good in the unpleasant. I used a cane this past year after hip replacement (at age 52) and found that relying on its help enabled me to concentrate on other things besides my pain – like my family, my work, my overall health. it’s ok to accept help when it helps you be whole.

Due to both of my hips now reduced to prostheses; “appliances” made of titanium, steel and porcelain; to help me “walk better” due to my natural hips which had failed me, due to the bone dying (necrosis), I also had to face the challenges of using a CANE!! At first I was mortified, thinking “I am OLD, face it, it HAS HAPPENED! ” And then the physical pain began-“which hand do I use today”, as in the beginning it hurts after an hour r two, let alone having to depend on it ALL DAY! AND the looks and stares from young people, ghosts of who I USED TO BE, N USED TO LOOK LIKE! I tripped over it, accidentally hit other people, dropped it (if I was alone, it was tons of fun trying to pick it up), sympathetic people offering their help, moving aside to give me “room”, offers from kind people giving up their seats on the bus or train….uggghhh, so NOT FUNNY…One day in a pharmacy, I saw a very cool n hip (no pun intended) looking “device” so I bought the damn thing, and decided if I had to depend on this THING to help me get around, I was going to look cool n hip, so help me God!! The cane does not define me. It HELPS me
To do what I need a little help doing-walk! I still have my legs, and from the many operations ive had to insure that, I now use the cane when needed, and to me its a blessing and kind of a “badge of honor”. I am 58 years YOUNG TODAY, and pain aside, I have my legs and can walk, even if at times I have tears rolling down my cheeks because of the pain. I AM BLESSED TO HAVE MY OLD LEGS, AND THE COOLEST SILVER N BLACK CANE EVER. I AM TRULY BLESSED. AMEN!!

Margit NovackSeptember 9th, 2014 at 4:22 pm

“My cane does not define me, it helps me..” That is exactly the message of this post. Thanks for your comment. I am sure others feel the same way.

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