I resisted it at first. When the physiotherapist helping me with my injured knee first suggested walking with a cane, I shrugged him off. “It’s not that bad.” But the truth was, it hurt. I just didn’t want to use a cane.
What exactly was I afraid of? Being seen as old, frail, weak? But that’s not what I think when I see other people walking with canes. Or is it?
Clearly I needed to confront some internalized ableism and ageism here!
A week went by. A friend who’s just had hip replacement surgeries, first one, and then the other, offered me her cane. She’s a fitness instructor at GoodLife. We chatted a bit about rehab and recovery and bonded over “being good at it.” We’re both compliant sorts. We do all the exercises, ice all the things. So why not the cane?
I took it to physio and asked for instructions. I already knew the counter intuitive thing. You use it with opposite arm to the injured knee. That makes sense since that arm swings with that leg.
I still wasn’t entirely at peace with it. I posted on Facebook that I probably chose a bad month to let more of my grey and silver hair show! The cane and the silver seem a bit much. I’m still struggling a bit with self-image here.
I’m channeling Marion whose birthday it would have been last week. She called her cane “nuisance.” Mostly she used it to direct people around and point at things. Could I work at being a bossy cane user? Probably not.
But the thing is it, it helps. I can walk further without knee pain. I’m slowly healing. Also, people are super helpful when they see the cane. I was worried that strangers would start engaging me in conversation about my injured knee but so far, people have just been super smiley and helpful.
The other day I even did a search for stylish canes! The two sets of cane imagery that resonate with me are wizards and their staffs (see above) as well as top hats and canes (see below)
How about you? Have you had experience walking with a cane? Love it or hate it?
3 thoughts on “Sam learns a new trick, walking with a cane, and worries about her own ageism and ableism”
Check out Urban Poling (Nordic Walking or Exerstriding in the US) for an alternate to a cane. I looked but can’t find the post where they talk about “ability” vs “disability” and how the poles can help you reframe the mindset because they allow you the ability to be active with less pain. I teach Nordic Walking in Chicago and have witnessed this first-hand.
I used a cane when I broke my toe in half in 2012, and sometimes I use one when I’m having a severe SI flare-up. It’s just easier. Granted, as I’m younger overall and younger looking than I actually am it never occurs to me to worry I look “old”. Not sure how I’d feel about that, TBH. Will have a think. Thank you for the prompt!
PS: bonus is getting a seat on all pubic transport so you can read without sloshing into fellow travelers.
I expect it will add to your “distinguished dean” persona!
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