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The First Time . . . Using a Cane

Updated on March 6, 2019
Jen's Solitude profile image

I've been living with MS for 25+ years and have tried almost every medication available. I have also been evaluated and tested extensively.

A continuation of first time experiences, brings us to . . . the cane. Are you wondering, at this very moment, whether it is time to begin using a cane? It can be an intimidating and daunting experience. Yet, once you come to terms with it, a cane can also offer liberation to walk about when a steady gait no longer occurs automatically.

I have been using a cane for a good nine years now, off and on. More on than off, in the last five years or so. It was the first visible concession I agreed to make. The type of concession that tells the world there is something wrong with me, physically. That visual statement to the world beyond my front door, was a big deal the first time I made it. Needing the cane however, went a long way to a smooth adjustment. Necessity trumps pride and realigns a faulty self-image. Who knew?

Today, in most outdoor excursions, I couldn't make it without a cane by my side, providing me with a third wheel as it were. Are you considering using a cane? If so, you may benefit from the top 3 reasons I decided a cane was for me

The Top Three Reasons I Use My Cane


That is what it really boiled down to for me. An ever-increasing need for more balance when I walked.  With balance comes stability, safety, steadiness, security, all the good "S" words.

Walking when muscle fatigue is in full swing is exhausting. Foot drop slowly and effortlessly creeps into my gait, which brings about an insidious unsteadiness which makes trips and falls much more likely to occur. Add generalized MS-fatigue (lassitude) on top of all this and it isn't hard to deduce that a cane would be helpful.

I remember one particularly tiring day. I was at a religious function, dressed up in my brand new suit, wearing only small-inch heels. I was on my way to the car for my lunch and planned to rest while in the car because my fatigue was terrible that day.  Walking close to where our car was parked, I felt the slightest of an incline but before I could respond, I had lost my balance and down I went. I was so tired I just laid on the ground even after I realized I hadn't broke any bones, just badly scrapped my knee. I could feel the burning pain that comes when you slide on asphalt and your skin has been removed, but other than that pain, I knew I had  escaped serious injury. Naturally, all my fellow congregants who were also outside, ran to my aid. When I didn't jump right up as many naturally do when a slip and fall occurs, they were afraid I had seriously hurt myself. I assured them I was ok, but needed a minute before they could assist me to my car. Of course I lived to tell the tale, but I also realized the fall would not have occurred had I had my trusty cane as a stabilizer bar. By this time I was already regularly using a cane, I merely forgot it that day.

Not to give the impression that canes prevents all falls, but they do help us avoid many of the falls that come about from unsteadiness and imbalance. 

There comes a point in everyone's life when we realize, it's time . . .

Is it time for you to begin using a cane? Then do it, you'll be glad you did.

Finding the Right Cane For You

Now that you've decided to successful tackle this first time experience of using a cane, I whole-heartedly recommend you make it as enjoyable as possible. Once you have figured out the basic type of cane you need, don't just grab one from any place, put some time into finding a cane that fits your personality. It takes some of the sting out of the early experiences. I purchased my cane on-line. There are no shortages of creative artistic canes out there. Take a little time and find the right one for you. If you have to use a cane, you might as well like the cane you're using, don't you think?

I have a small collection of different types of canes.

After my slip and fall described previously, I made sure to keep my collapsible cane in our car. It is my back-up for those times I leave the house cane-less not realizing how tired I will be in just a short while.

I have my very first cane, which I also like to use at more formal occasions when I'm not dressed casually.

Then there is my hand-carved cane. I just loved the workmanship, so added it to my collection.

Last but not least, my walking stick. It is very tall and I use it when in the woods or hilly ground where a normal cane might sink into the dirt or grass. I enjoyed having it by my side the last time I was able to take a small hike in the Pocono Mountains.

If variety really is the spice of life, spice up your MS life with a cane you really like!

Concluding Thoughts to Consider

To wrap things up. Using a cane was never an easy decision to make, but it was a necessary one.

Am I glad I use a cane? Absolutely.

Should you be using a cane? No doubt just asking yourself this question probably means the answer is yes! But you will have to come to that conclusion when you are ready to do so. No rush, just be careful until you get there mentally and emotionally. Also your doctor or physical therapist can be a good source of encouragement if you need a cane, but have been putting it off. They know first hand of the damage that occurs when an unsteady person without a cane has a terrible fall. They will give you permission to view yourself in a different light and still be good with the person you are on the inside.

As one of your earliest first time experiences, you will look back at this decision to use a cane as the start of many, in which you mentally rose to the challenge, in order to face.

You are beginning to hit your stride in the lifelong marathon run that is our MS!


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