Sunday, February 7, 2010

It's been a week

It's been a week since my last entry and I still don't have anything to say. I feel like I've shared everything there is to share. Dry and raw. That's what I was looking to accomplish through this blog. Twenty three entries... Is that all it took to say everything? Probably not. I often feel compelled to write about things I've already written about. Like I'd love to write about my legs right now. Yes, I will do that.

They hurt! And I felt pretty wobbly today. It's like this: anytime I lean in any direction, to any level, while I'm standing, I feel myself start to tip over... Like a teapot, kind of. I keep tipping for a second and then I jolt myself upright into a 90 degree angle to avoid falling. Sometimes I grab onto a door frame or wall for support. Basically my main problem is that I don't compensate well for a change in posture.

I can get pretty wobbly when I walk, like I can't keep my back straight. So I have to concentrate to avoid swaying too dramatically like a pendulum. Not only would I look stupid by swaying like a pendulum, but such dramatic changes in posture would even further increase the likelihood of me losing my balance and having to catch myself or worse: falling. It hasn't happened yet, though, despite the ice and snow outside! Pendulum walking would also hurt my back after a while. When I stand and sometimes when I walk, I can't seem to keep my feet firmly on the ground. I feel my weight shifting to the back and my toes rise up off the floor.

Until I figured out the mechanics of my balance problem, I didn't really think it was significant because I can stand on one foot and often even walk heel to toe, as if on a tight rope. I felt that surely I didn't need a cane because I could walk and stand unassisted. Yes, sure I can, but it shouldn't be as uncomfortable and difficult as it is.

Lately I've been imagining myself walking and standing with a cane when I feel myself tipping or my legs aching. I've also been noticing people's canes and how they use them. Many people with canes seem to limp or walk gingerly. I've also seen people walk a bit without using the cane -- some people don't rely on it completely! I know my Granddad uses a cane when he's out of the house, but he can walk without it. My old boss, too. She wouldn't use it inside the office or to and from the washroom. I would never accuse them of using their canes for attention because I know they have mobility issues. So why do I assume that people will think I'm using a cane for attention? I'm so gosh darned insecure!

I see a lot of those black canes with the "7" shaped foam-padded handles. I think that's the kind of cane I would like to use. Not those hook-handle canes, like what Scrooge McDuck had. Those look hard on the hand. Oh Scrooge... I love you. I have glasses now too, so I can dress up as you for Halloween again, like I did when I was five! I just need a top hat, which is fine because I LOVE hats. When I was little and in love with Scrooge McDuck, I LOVED his accessories. I thought they built so much character because he used them as props: adjust and take off the hat; take off the glasses; tap the cane on the floor to get someone's attention. I STILL think these make great props and I imagine that if I get a cane, I will wrap some sort of chain around it. That way I can shake it and bang it on the floor to get some percussion out of it when I go out with friends and there's music and/or dancing. There are also canes that can be made into seats. That would be good when I have to wait in line for things, like my concert in April to see Florence and the Machine!

Or hey, I could also get a pretty cane for special occasions. A friend of mine sent me this website called "fashionable canes" and there are some with crystal-like handles. Oooh! I'd love this one if it wasn't pink: -- I still don't know how to make hyperlinks on here!

How theatrical is this cane! It seems so contradictory, though. I don't want a cane because it will draw attention to my issues and perhaps make people think I'm looking for the attention, but if I do get a cane, I want to use it as a prop, or to get a fancy cane as an accessory!

Let's go back to my first point on the contradiction because I've never explored it before in this blog. See, if I use a cane, people I know and strangers will probably look at me in shock. "Oh my God! What happened? Are you okay?!" Then I'll have to explain why I'm using it -- that I have a Dandy Walker Variant that makes me lose my balance and causes leg fatigue and pain. So the cane will make visible issues that have been mostly invisible. Damn. I'm too modest to talk about myself that often! I think it will upset me to hear myself describe the condition and symptoms regularly.

It could be liberating to talk about everything, though. Perhaps after I keep talking to people about it, the phrases "Dandy Walker" and "neurological condition" will stop feeling so strange coming out of my mouth. Maybe the cane would help me feel more comfortable talking about my issues. It could also be liberating to have a cane because it would make my issues obvious to people. With a cane, my difficulty and suffering won't be as invisible as they are now.

Wow. And I thought I didn't have anything left to write about my health and disability issues! This was one of those beautiful occasions where writing makes me think. Then the thoughts just keep coming, seemingly from nowhere, spilling out of my brain faster than I can type them.


  1. I've been using a cane for almost a year. I found that people always ask if I hurt my leg. I simply tell them I have balance issues.

    Personally I chose a fancy cane - a black one with white flowers and red rhinestones in the middle of the flowers. I felt kind of funny using a cane, but the flowers cheered me up. I figured let strangers think what they want, it is my business. And I've actually gotten a lot of positive comments.

    I rarely use the cane in my home because my house is tiny, so I can always grab a wall or piece of furniture if I start to fall. But until recently I would almost never leave the house without it, if I didn't have a cane I had to be so slow and careful not to fall, and I constantly had to look down at the ground, but with a cane I am able to walk at normal or quick speeds.

    I would suggest you start with an inexpensive cane, and see how it works for you. In my case, I started with a cane my grandma had lying around the house and didn't use, and I found it helped so much that I decided I definitely needed one.

    My advice is to at least try it. You would be amazed at how freeing it can be if you are not constantly worrying about falling!

  2. You should try asking other people who you know use canes about how they felt when they first started using one - they probably felt the same as you do!

    I can see how it would NOT be comfortable having all sorts of people that you know asking and being worried about why you all of a sudden have a cane. Why not try talking about it with people you're comfortable with who you aren't sure know? Like "so what would you think if I got a cane? I'm not sure if I want a neon polka dot one, or something more subtle...." and then explain it somewhat ahead of time? I'd probably just stick with something like "balance issues" cause hell, it's no one else's business and it's the fast and easily understood answer.

    And how have you NOT fallen on the snow? I think I end up on my ass at least once each winter. I haven't managed it this winter since I'm in England, but I've came VERY close! Probably cause I walk fast. Ah well.

  3. Linda, "balance issues" is a great explanation! I don't know why I make life so complicated and expect everything needs this long, drawn out answer. I think of the future way too much. You have wonderful points about a cane giving a sense of security and independence. I don't think I'll try someone else's cane, though. I think it would be best to consult with a specialist to figure out what kind of cane and length would be best. I also imagined it is important to be trained to use the cane properly. I want to get optimal use out of it!

    Lindsey, I love your suggestions on how I could bring the cane up in conversation. Your technique is less scary than mine: "I have a neurological condition." That typically makes eyes widen and jaws drop! It probably isn't the best way to start the conversation. Haha! Explaining the cane ahead of time is also a great idea... Much less shocking than suddenly seeing someone with a cane one day! I'm sure I'd be worried if a friend of mine suddenly had one. But you're right. It isn't anyone's business, so I shouldn't feel obligated to say anything.

    I know! Isn't it amazing?! I usually fall once a year or two. Don't hurt yourself, Lindsey!