I’ve been using the aforementioned vertical stabilizing instrument for 1.5 weeks now. Like my husband suggested, It is the initial phase of a social experiment; one that I am also a test subject of. This technique might be inappropriate for anything to be considered statistically significant…but for me it removed the overarching fear that I’m progressing. The data it did provide was unexpected- on many levels.
Phase 1: The issue of how to make this stick work for me.
Stripping away all of the emotional implications, I had to consider how I was going to schlep this additional item during my concrete jungle expedition. I imagined it in four stages. The first was walking out of my house and across the street to the train station. There were many possible places that could now could be viewed as obstacles in the first jaunt alone. I had to get down my stairs, and cross the street and then get up the stairs to the platform. I did this pretty effortlessly most days. Of course when my balance became compromised it changed what is the default normal. When this episode began it was the snowy ice period of January just to kick things up a notch.
I had seen my new physical therapist who trained me on how to use the stick…as if one foot/leg is weaker than the other. It wasn’t the most intuitive process…and I quickly realized that it wasn’t compensating for my unpredictable foot-drop. What I was doing was adding a limb to confirm my connection with the earth… a tripod of balance. Once I figured this out, I became be less rigid in the process. I began to move the cane back and forth between hands as I needed it- not forcing myself into a regimen of usage that felt more military than assistive.
After a few days… I became emotionally comfortable carrying this thing around. When I was seated, or it was in the way… I magically folded it up and stuck it in my back pack. When the time is appropriate I would pull it out and it would snap in to place. Not unlike those collapsible magic wands that droop unless you hold them just right.
So with that check mark completed I was able to take notice of how people respond to me. Right off the bat there were some exceptions made on my behalf. Those New Yorkers aren’t had cold hearted as the movies would like to portray. On my first subway ride with stick in hand a young woman offered me her seat. Cool. When I walked up the subway stairs on the first day… hanging on the banister as usual—cane present but not used… I could feel the explanation of why I was talking so long…falling off of my back pack. This is very cool. For the first time in almost 20 years I had a signal to the world that I have something to contend with that goes beyond a first glance.
This is very interesting.