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10 Reasons Why Using a Cane Is the Greatest

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I have a chronic illness, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, that makes me prone to falling because my joints pop out of alignment without warning. I hesitated to start walking with a cane for a long time. I was self-conscious, and I didn’t want to have to explain myself in public.

• What is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome?
• What Are Common Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Symptoms?

But I’m over that now. Here are 10 reasons why using a caneis the greatest:

1. Accessorize

Have you seen the number of different cane styles available on It’s amazing. It took me forever to decide, and in the end, I ordered two. A black one for “sophisticated” days and one with a bright red wooden handle for the other days.

I intend to start collecting fun and sleek and matchy-matchy canes like some women collect purses or shoes. Like anything fashion-related, using a cane is just another opportunity for self-expression.

2. Increased Stamina

At first, I was only thinking about balance. I was only thinking about keeping myself from falling on my face and how it would be better if I stopped glomming onto walls and door frames for support in public places.

But it turns out that using a cane is also an energy saver. Because my body doesn’t have to work as hard, I’m not as exhausted at the end of a day as I otherwise would be. It almost makes me feel like I can keep up with the rest of the world, if I can rest on my cane wherever I happen to be standing.

3. Self-Defense

I feel safer when I walk with a cane. I’ve always liked to take hikes on backwoods trails or in abandoned parts of town, and I usually just tried to push the risk of assault out of my mind. At first, I thought using a cane would make me more of a target because it was proof of my weakness. But the opposite is true.

As my friend Megan says, a cane is like a “don’t fuck with me stick.” Who’d mess with someone using a cane? And if they tried, watch out! My hiking stick is lightweight and has a pointy tip that could do some serious damage.

4. Mindfulness

I’m not the most coordinated person in the world, and when I added one of those self-standing stoppers to the bottom of my cane, I started tripping all over it. So using a cane forces me to go a little bit more slowly, which is a good thing in this frenzied world. It counterbalances my tendency to push myself.

Being forced to go slow reminds me that I don’t really have to keep up with anyone or anything besides my own body. A cane is like a built-in meditation teacher, a continual reminder to stay present. It’s a spiritual win.

5. The Sound

I have a signature rhythm now, a third knocking step. And I kind of like it. It’s an idiosyncratic Alyssa beat whenever I walk into a room. Maybe I should come up with a theme song to go with it?

6. An Aura of Mystery

Who is that youngish, well-balanced woman with the enviable taste in walking accessories? Is she injured? Is she dying? People want to know more. And I’m kind of OK with piquing others’ curiosity, as long as I remember that I don’t have to answer their nosy questions if I don’t feel like it.

7. Spider-Crushing

A cane is an excellent way to rid yourself of creepy crawlies, either by crushing or by gently brushing them out the door without actually having to bend down and nearly touch them.

(No spiders were harmed in the writing of this post.)

8. Depth-Tester

Say you’re considering a dip in a public fountain or shallow pond. Use your cane to test the waters before hopping in! Or, better yet, glue a magnet to the bottom and collect some quarters.

9. Keeps Strange Dogs Away

I like dogs, but they tend to be afraid of me now. This is probably because dogs are smart and can immediately see the weapon potential in a long, sturdy stick.

Pre-cane, on the beach or at the park, I was always getting jumped on and left with muddy paw prints all over my leggings. Now I don’t have to worry as much about getting knocked over by random four-legged canines.

10. Window-Smasher

Are you locked out of your car at a gas station in the middle of nowhere? Are you stuck in a burning building with windows that don’t open? Are you locked out of your house and really need to pee? In emergencies such as these, remember: a cane can shatter glass.

So don’t worry if you have to start walking with a cane.

You’ll see. Life is better this way.

Thinkstock Image By: 3drenderings

Originally published: November 7, 2017
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