Doing the best you can

June 27, 2009 at 5:24 am

I hope that you do not blame yourself for this injury because of not using a cane. It is good to learn from our experiences and a cane would definitely help prevent falls, but what I hear from you all the time is that you are doing the best you can in a tough situation. I think a lot of us do not like using a cane not really so much because of “vanity”, but rather rebellion/anger at this illness that we are not going to let it take over and control our lives nor let others see “disability” before seeing “ability”. It feels to me more like a struggle to remain in control of our lives than so much how we looked.

I work with children with cancer. Lots of the most beautiful faces I have ever seen are on children with little hair so it has not ever logically felt like hair was important. Years ago, I was told that I had cancer. thank God, that was not true, but I was stunned when preparing for a trip down chemotherapy lane that I cared so much about the fact I would lose my hair, until I realized that it really was not hair that I was mourning–it was the sense of being part of this world without standing out as “ill” or different. Using a cane makes it so obvious that something is different especially in young people.

All this to say– use the cane because it makes it safer, but please do not beat up on yourself about when you do not use it–you are doing the best you can in a situation that is tough and you put others first all the time–including doing a lot for them when it might be better for you to rest. Most of this is because you care deeply for them, but maybe there is a bit of anger that you are not going to let this illness take over your life.

My tiny suggestion is to ask when you see the ortho about if he/she has any additional suggestions to help prevent falls like better AFOs like Julie suggests–not so much because of vanity, but because you have better things to do in life than to let stumbling compromise that and because having a way that is less obvious helps you preserve autonomy with dignity in a world that often does not understand so well what it means to struggle just to walk.