Starting to Use a Cane as a Young Woman
Updated: Feb 8
About six months ago, I realized that I needed to add a cane to my daily life for safety reasons. I wasn’t able to stand in place for long periods of time and my stumbles from balance problems were becoming more common. I knew that I needed to add one and I even approached my doctor to get a prescription.
I had to figure out where to get a cane and realized that I didn’t know anything about them: there are specific ways to walk with them, they need to be a certain height to prevent extra pain, there are various handle types for different purposes. I also realized that the canes that accept prescriptions (and, therefore, are reasonably priced) are all very simple and medical-looking.
I needed something to start with, however, so I looked all over and found that Goodwill had a Medical Supply building that is only for medical supplies (from wheelchairs to C-PAP machines and more) and they require a need for the supplies in order to even enter their warehouse. It allowed me to see and touch canes of various types and even try them out when moving around the warehouse. It was such a relief!
I still found that a physical therapist was necessary to make sure the cane was at the right height for me and to learn the specifics of walking with a cane (you have to move your whole arm to keep the cane flat, not just your wrist). But as I got more comfortable with using the cane, I started struggling with the need to use the cane.
I started ignoring it around home. When I had to leave home, I felt extremely self-conscious about having a cane. I had specifically picked a cane that has a little bit of a blue pattern on it, but I felt like it still drew so much attention to me and I felt more disabled than ever.
Realizing that I needed to do something (and that the pretty looking canes are soooooo expensive), I went to a craft store and bought a bunch of stickers. I then sat down at home and decorated my cane top to bottom with some stickers that were just pretty and some that were very personalized. And you know what? Suddenly, it was much easier to accept the cane because I had made it mine.
Amusingly, now that I wanted people to see and comment on my cane, I found that people were actually avoiding looking at it. No one even noticed that I had decorated it, even those I regularly interacted with. But having it decorated in such a way that I felt more comfortable with the cane because it reflects me now helped me come to terms with needing it.
I still don’t always use it around the house when I should, but I’m coming to terms with it and I’m saving money up to buy a hand-carved cane in the future, to match me even more.