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Why I Have a Love/Hate Relationship With My Mobility Devices

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“Ooh! Your cane is so pretty and shiny!”  How I wish I could see the beauty in the golden cane I have been using. I wish I could see how the sunlight shines off of it. Instead, I see a plain old boring cane that someone older than me should be using.

I have Charcot Marie Tooth 1A, wear ankle foot orthosis, and now use a cane. The cane use started when I transitioned to new hinges braces and was tripping more than I care to admit.  My knees had cuts and bruises on them, so I had to do something. I knew I could not keep hurting my knees that way.  That is when I decided to talk to my orthotist. Together we decided to keep trying and working with hinged braces and I should use my cane more.  I was already using it for walking long distances and/or on uneven terrain.  Yet, the idea of using it more was a bit… well, unsettling.

I can not fully explain why using my cane more was unsettling.  It helps with balance and provides support while walking, so logically it is a good idea. Getting my emotions on board with logic took a bit of convincing.  I started to use the cane more and I tripped less, coincidence? Maybe using the cane was not the worst idea. Maybe I was worried about what others would think. Maybe they think I am too young or that I really do not need it. To be honest, no one says anything to me about the cane. They may ask why I wear AFOs but nothing negative is usually said about either.

Now that I am getting comfortable using my cane, I am starting to use a mobility scooter when I know there is a lot of walking.  This is much harder for me to accept and use. Part of me hates that my condition is causing me to need to use mobility devices. I know it makes doing things easier, but won’t everyone look at me and stare?  Well, not really. I found that when I use the scooter, no one really says anything or even pays attention to the fact that I am using it.  Hmm… maybe it is just me.  Perhaps I need to get out of my head and just do what is best for me.

I know that the cane and scooter help me. They make it easier to do the things I enjoy. The mobility aids prevent me from falling and becoming exhausted.  So, why do I have such a hard time accepting that I need them and they make life easier? I am always wondering what strangers may think of me.  I know that most of the time they are not thinking, “Look at that lady on the scooter, I wonder what is wrong with her?”  I realize it is just me thinking that way. I do not think that when I see someone using a mobility device.  Why do I worry about what others think?

The other day, I went to the grocery store and used their scooter.  It was so much easier to do the shopping and keep up with my teenager.  I remember thinking, “why haven’t I done this before?”  I had no real clear answer other than that I am worried about what others will say. Yes, I realize that is not a good reason and I need to just do it.

I know the benefits of using these aids. I need to now get past my own insecurities and just do it.  That is the tough part for me. It is definitely a work in progress. I need to love the devices for how they help me get out and live without hating that I need them.

Getty image by Russell Binns.

Originally published: July 12, 2022
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