I’ve been using a stick for about 12 months now and have only just appreciated the benefit of using 2. I used to watch people at The Sussex MS Treatment Centre hobbling around using 2 sticks and I would compare their mobility (or lack of it) to mine. I would think, “Phew, glad I only need 1 stick” but misunderstood how liberating it is feeing equally balanced on both sides!
When I use my stick I find that I keep my left hand firmly gripped to either the wall or my husband/relative/stranger as I’m terrified of the lack of control I feel. This is ok in some circumstances but what about open spaces where there is no wall or Husband to lean on? My feet refuse to work properly using one stick too so I will often take the 2 steps from my front wall to the car (or similar) by closing my eyes tightly and hoping for the best! I’ve also noticed the strange posture I’m developing from leaning on the stick to my right side and my neurologist recently described it as follows;
“Her gait to my mind was rather maladaptive, holding her legs hyperextended and circumducting with a degree of ataxia on top. Her gait looked extremely effortful and I am sure there is room for improvement here”
I won’t pretend to understand exactly what he’s talking about but the phrase, “her gait looked extremely effortful” certainly sounds correct!
Anyway, my long suffering Mum and I took my children on an outing on Sunday to a park for a kick about in the sunshine. We parked within staggering distance of the grass and my Mum had brought a fold up chair for me to sit on so we were well prepared. There was a grassy slope to negotiate, the type that’s built in large, outdoor places to prevent travellers from moving in. I just about got over this but an hour or 2 later fatigue and long grass prevented me from getting back over the slope and the short distance back to the car. This meant I now had a fair walk to a gate at the end where Mum could meet me with the car and the children. Ever prepared, my Mum grabbed her hiking stick from the car and suggested I try it. It was a revelation!
Suddenly, I found I could walk at a fair pace without any help from walls or human props! I felt so liberated and even found that my feet were co-operating! The sense of achievement I felt when I made it to the car was brilliant! I also had no back ache from leaning slightly to my right.
The following day I was due to take my son to his friends’ house and as usual, fear of the unknown was causing panic to rise in me as the morning went on. My Husband (the hero) rummaged around in the garage and produced a stick more or less the same as my Mums! “I bought it last year but you rejected it” he said as he polished it up for me and adjusted the height. Half an hour later I was walking confidently (ish) across of the courtyard at the play date!
I’m sure I look more disabled with 2 sticks and people may be looking at me thinking the same as I did but I feel so much more confident and independent which is far more important!