This time last year I was using a crutch, and probably thought my relationship with walking aids would be akin to a serial Tinder aficionado – you know, lacking commitment and over before it ever really begun – but with the latest knee news, (more on that below...) it looks like my stick and I are in it for the long haul.
I arrived back from our holiday to an MRI scan the following day. The results were rapid, and a few days later the root of my knee pain was revealed – a tear in the lateral meniscus. I couldn't glean much from my GP in relation to likely treatment, but I'll see an orthopaedic specialist soon.
So I’m no longer in the dark, and that's a good thing. In the meantime, I wait. I’ll carry on with my rehab exercises but must take it easy on the walking front.
Given I've done my time with a number of walking sticks, I thought I'd share some tips on how to wear your stick, so it doesn’t wear you – along with a roundup of some pretty good ones.
1. Own it
Be prepared for questions. As a young person using a walking stick, it rarely goes unnoticed. People might be surprised, and I say let them! Questions vary, as do my answers. If I’m not in the mood, “it’s a long story” usually shuts them up. Generally, though, I’m happy to share (I spend most days on my own after all, so will take pretty much any human interaction I can get!!!).
The length of time it takes to be fully comfortable with the ‘new' you might take longer than you think. I have said this before, but focusing on what you can do, rather than the things you can’t, does help to frame changes in a more positive light. Allow yourself time to adjust – but accept that you can’t swerve it forever.
2. Find your new style
The day I ditched the standard NHS-issue grey walking stick was a revelation. The gold stick I had bought made me feel like I had taken control – it was like any other accessory, and could easily be part of my life.
What I wear hasn't really changed, and I don’t believe it should. Minor tweaks are enough. I avoid anything maxi (a serious tripping hazard!), and have had to swap my heels for trainers (*sob*). If like me, you need to wear trainers, make them your thing. Go bright, go bold! You might find something you really love.
I choose to cover the cast I wear on my ankle with tights or socks, because it's a bit ugly, and I don't have much time for that!
3. Out in the open
Your mobility mates deserve a bit of respect. Don’t hide them away in cupboards, or wardrobes! Keep them where you need them. In the early days, I needed my crutch at all times, even to get out of bed in the night, now, not so much.
I like to buy stuff (!), and so my collection quickly expanded and began to look messy. At this point, I started to look for storage solutions and opted for this umbrella stand. Re-purposed, it works well for keeping sticks of all sizes together. I love the beech wood, contrasted with the black, in a minimalist Scandinavian style. It occupies a space in the hallway, generally tidying things up, but not hiding away the aids I need.
Umbrella stand - A Place for Everything.
4. Arm candy
When it comes to clothes, you know sometimes it's good to invest. The winter coat to see you through multiple seasons – a classic white shirt and well-fitting jeans. I’ve come to realise things you use every day (even walking sticks) should be built to last, and where possible, beautiful too. I’ve found some lovely options for all budgets (linked below). I'm the proud owner of the leopard-print number, and an amazing turquoise and walnut Top & Derby.
All sticks and crutches below are available from designed2enable.