How to use canes. The psychological leap.

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How to use canes. The psychological leap.

Postby Uprightnbreathin » Fri Nov 02, 2007 6:55 pm

I have MS and have problems walking most days. How do I get myself to start using a cane psychologically? I have random falls and have even fallen and broke my jaw. This (using a cane, or canes) can't be a problem limited to just me? I already know I would need the ones that also get support from your fore arm as my wrists have low strength. Also.... what are the canes I am talking about called? I would feel embarrassed to use a cane, or maybe two!!----- How do I get over it?
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Postby TwistedHelix » Sat Nov 03, 2007 5:38 am

Hello Upright,
This is one of those problems that many of us face at one time or another: the psychological difficulty in acceptance that lies at the heart of "dealing" with MS. In my view it has two main components: coping with changing your own image of yourself, and imagining how others are going to see you and what they'll think of you. Because you say you'll feel embarrassed I guess you're very concerned about what other people will think, so I suppose it might be useful to ask yourself what you think when you see people using some kind of walking aid – chances are it's nothing more than " oh look, that guy has something wrong with his legs" if, indeed, you give it a moment's thought at all.
Also, it sounds as if the falls you have had are pretty serious and happen fairly frequently. When I was a bit more mobile I used to fall often and it was the fear of injury, and the dread of falling somewhere and being stuck without help, which made the use of a walking stick a much easier option to take. I felt much less embarrassed if I tripped and fell while using a walking stick, (and other people could plainly see I had a "reason" for falling and not jump to the conclusion I was drunk), than if I had just simply sprawled onto the floor in the middle of the supermarket.
I know the kind of cane you're talking about but I'm afraid I don't know what they're called, (it's probably something different here in the UK anyway), but the thought occurred to me that they are very often given to people with a broken leg, so if you find yourself wondering what other people are thinking, try telling yourself that they'll just assume that.
I hope that helps a bit,
Dom
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Postby ssmme » Sat Nov 03, 2007 12:00 pm

About 6 months prior to my ms dx, I made it to the emergency room twice from injuries from falling down. My gp told me that when he was in the army the army physicians had a meeting once a year to discuss non-combat causes of death and injury within their ranks. He said that statistically, more deaths and serious injuries are caused by falls than anything else. He believes this statistic can be carried over to the general population. Please, do anything you can to keep from having further injury. Are you sure you need a cane? I got a foot drop orthotic which helps keep the front of my foot from catching every slightly uneven piece of pavement and helps me not trip up the stairs also. I haven't had a serious fall since using the orthotic starting about a year ago.
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Postby Brainteaser » Sat Nov 03, 2007 4:44 pm

Hi Upright,

Over here the crutches you speak of are called 'Forearm Crutches' but I think in North America they are referred to as 'Canadian Crutches'.

I think Dom has summed things up pretty well.

Just another slant on this - maybe you might look at the bigger picture. Let's assume that with medical advancements, your use of any kind of device is temporary and will not be forever. I'll be donating my crutches to the MS Museum. Also, in my book, one cane is better than 2 crutches which is better than a WC which better than bed etc. etc.

It's hard but we need to get a positive twist out of all this.

Cheers,
Phil
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Postby Uprightnbreathin » Sat Nov 03, 2007 4:50 pm

I would like to thank everyone for responding to this question. I know I am going to have to face the music and admit my limitations. Wish the timing was of my choosing tho. I hate to have this staring me in the face within a year of my Dx!! I just can not take another face plant if you know what I mean.
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Postby Terry » Sat Nov 03, 2007 6:49 pm

I used a cane for a while, and though it was unpleasant, it was far better tban falling. I did notice that people would look at me as though they wondered why I used it, but I did my best to use it proudly. I, at least, was able to do the things I wanted to do.
Also, instead of a cane, I learned to use my sons' arms as much as possible.
I also parked next to the cart corral at the grocery, used the bars there to get myself to the carts, then used the cart to get through the store.
My canes (2 of them) are now hanging in the closet. They are a nice reminder of how much better I feel.
If I have to use one again, I promised myself that I'd get a beautiful one, and think of it as a flashy accessory.
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Postby TwistedHelix » Sun Nov 04, 2007 5:47 am

One thing I forgot to mention: I did a fair amount of travelling after my diagnosis, and my cane was my constant companion. I spent six months in San Francisco, seven weeks in Hong Kong and China, some time in Canada, Egypt, Switzerland etc. and it became a personal tradition to place it in the local waters of everywhere I went, so although it now hangs useless in a cupboard it is a surprisingly emotive reminder to think that I dipped it in the river Nile, the South China Sea, an underground lake in a cave in China, Lake Lucerne and so on.
Okay, I know that all sounds a bit weird but that's nothing to the looks I get from friends when I tell them I have " dipped my stick" around the world!
Dom
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Postby oreo » Sun Nov 04, 2007 10:41 am

After having had a couple of nasty falls myself (used my head to shatter a commercial plate glass door) I purchased a set of canes even though I only use the right one at the moment. I say a set because they are indeed right and left handed. Instead of having the standard rounded handle grip, these canes have a moulded plastic top that matches the palm of the hand. I don't grip the cane as much as I rest on the cane. They are great for that BUT you cant hang them off things when you go out.

One big advantage I discovered using them was that they help combat fatigue. When the Mrs. wants to go shopping if I use the cane I can do six or seven stores without problem. No cane and I'm toast after 2 stores.

I also noticed that no one much gives a tinkers damn about people using a cane no matter how young you are. So don't let pride get in your way. If the cane can improve your quality of life that buy it and use it.
Carpe Diem
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Postby Brainteaser » Sun Nov 04, 2007 6:04 pm

Hi Upright & Dom,

I don't want this to sound like "my sticks have been further than your's" or something. But Dom's post on travelling with sticks has touched off some memories.

Since using my crutches consistently about 5 years ago, they've been with me to the US, Mexico, England, France, Thailand & Malaysia and shortly (touch wood) they're headed off to India.

So, Point 1 is that crutches don't necessarily stop you from doing things. Point 2 is that they can create some amusing and positive situations - such as when I've had plenty of Thai hotel boys falling over themselves to help me out or being upgraded on various flights to Business/First class. Even on the Eurostar I was upgraded, much to the chagrin of a British businessman who had the same character genes as bromley/Ian and was clearly wondering how they let this Aussie spastic on board! :wink:

Cheers,
Phil :D
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Postby Loobie » Mon Nov 05, 2007 4:45 am

I am really thinking about making the plunge myself. I am fullly ambulatory but I do fatigue easily, especially when navigating any terrain with any type of grade; even 2 degrees seems like a hill to me now. Anyway, we were camping and I was leaning on the fire poker we had made (1"bar bent with a handle) and it was incredible how much easier it made for me to just stand there. I didn't feel the need to "balance" myself and it allowed me to interact at the campfire for much longer. For me it would not be a neccesity, but an improvement in quality of life. Also, with my foot injury, which happens to be on the foot of my GOOD leg, it will help me keep weight off of the injured foot. I'm scheduled for surgery on it but we are postponing it until after my blood draw for the extension. I don't want any cortisone or any surgery related crap messing with my MRTC's!
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Postby Brainteaser » Mon Nov 05, 2007 4:13 pm

For Loobie or others where you may need a cane only some of the time and/or you don't always want to expose it in public, there is a folding cane available which could be carried in your bag or briefcase and whipped out when you need it. For an important meeting etc - fold it up and put away.
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Postby Muu » Tue Nov 06, 2007 4:29 am

Long before i was dx with ms i went to a fashion fayre and saw the fashion designer Betty Jackson who requires a cane. There she was with her steely grey immaculate bob, red lipstick, long leather jacket and black cane. The overall impact was amazing. She had accessorised her cane. I didn't think at the time i would ever need to use one myself but it may come to that. If so I will definitely "do a Betty".
muu
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Postby lgwright » Tue Nov 06, 2007 8:08 pm

I faced the same exact problem back when I was still walking. The funny thing was that with it it was obvious I had a medical necessity and without it I just looked like a stumbling drunk. So, I looked better and was much safer. A person can spend more time worrying about how they will be perceived in public with a cane but the truth is that nobody thinks a thing about it. Reverse the role. How would you react if you saw someone with a cane? It's really a matter of pride but a few face plants into the pavement will get you over that.
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Postby REDHAIRANDTEMPER » Wed Nov 07, 2007 5:43 am

for me the fatigue is what kills me everytime..so i use a cane alot..specially on the weekend..however i am getting to the point that i am thinking to use it all the time only to stop the fatigue i get....i do end up tripping and falling into the wall....which has been great to see when ya come to and see where your face went into the wall...ya know the hole that is now there...lol...so am using it more on the weekend but will be using it also during the week.....i have stairs in my house and at work..so i think using the cane will help me a great deal....

chris
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Postby carolew » Thu Nov 08, 2007 6:52 am

ssmme,
I wanted to know what kind of foot drop device you are using.

Actually, I would like to know any or all the names of the foot drop devices the good people of his community are using.

I bought one with an elastic strap that pulls the foot up but rubs on my lower leg and damages my skin.

Another model could be better. I did see the ones that are like an 'L' shaped piece of plastic but it fits only in those ugly orthopedic shoes, so... I am still searching... thank you. Carole
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