Sticks and stones …but mostly sticks

February 23, 2014 at 10:58 am | Posted in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 3 Comments

It’s been a week of ups and downs – the ups were two days off, Monday and Friday, for textile/embroidery related things which were great fun – the downs were a ‘flarette’ and … nope, that’s it, just the flarette really! It meant that on Friday, when I visited a textile fair with some friends, I was hobbling around with a stick and slowing people down .. and climbing in and out of the ancient, slightly decrepit minibus, which looked like it had recently been ‘gone over’ by a bunch of worse-for-wear rugby players, was really ‘interesting’! Still, if it hadn’t been for the minibus I wouldn’t have got there at all, so thank you driver! In spite of the flare I managed to have a nice day – and a very sociable one – not just with the friends I travelled down with, but with everyone there. The small size of the event meant that everyone was chatty, which was really nice, especially in the canteen where I spent a rather large amount of time, since I couldn’t walk well!

The fair was in a school, meaning that in the canteen you either sat on the end of a bench or had to climb in – which I couldn’t do. At one point I limped up to the end of a table where there was a lady sitting the other side already, sat down and accidentally bashed her slightly with my stick. When I apologised she just smiled and said ‘which leg is it?’ ‘Left’ I said. ‘Oh good,’ she said, ‘it’s my left too, so if we sit diagonally we should be fine!’ It turned out she was an autoimmune arthritis sufferer too – and a lovely lady, although sadly in a worse state than me, making it hard for her to actually do all the crafts she loved. We had a good conversation though – as I did with several other pleasant ladies I shall probably never see again!

She said she’d decided to leave her stick in the car, because she didn’t want to become too dependent on it. I only use mine occasionally, when flaring, because bits of me give way and then I can’t walk at all but I can hobble if I’ve got my stick; but it raised an interesting point, I thought. Can one become too dependent on a stick? Maybe. I know that when things were getting better yesterday (hurrah) I felt safer with my stick, just in case – but I did I really need it? Maybe not. Does it matter? Well, probably not if I was happy to just carry it and not use it, but that looks weird and then all the old folk in town give you the evil eye, a look that says, ‘Ha, suppose you’re one of them “benefit cheats” I was reading about in The Mail.’ I know I shouldn’t care what they think … but it’s hard not to. ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones’ but a hard stare from a pensioner cannot hurt me!*

Perhaps the answer is one of those fold-away canes – but the problem is they’re not exactly feather-light and my handbag is quite heavy enough as it is!

Answers on a postcard please …

* I have nothing against pensioners, and chances are they have nothing against me and it’s all in my head … but we do have a large percentage of pensioners in our town, which is why they are statistically most likely to be the ones giving me ‘the look’!



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  1. Oh, darn, Polly. Don’t you hate it when RA shows up just the same time as your holiday. I don’t think you can get too dependent on a walking stick or cane. I know when I’ve been recovering from surgery, I’d start forgetting my cane as I got well. I think your body knows what it needs and hopefully you won’t be needing that walking stick much longer!

  2. No – I don’t think you become dependent either if you need it. It’s a different thing if you don’t say “Don’t really need it but just in case…” if you see what I mean. I used crutches the year before last (ooohhh it’s wonderful to say that!) for 9 months and the pain specialist suggested when it would be appropriate to cut back a bit. I hate the lopsided feel of a walking stick/1 crutch so I started by walking around the house without them and then took them with me when walking outside, walked as far as I could without and then used them. Like all exercise, I got further and further without using them. I did get laughed at walking along with a pair of crutches in my hand and waving them around a bit 🙂 Eventually I felt safe to not take them with me.

    But they live in the umbrella stand – I haven’t taken them back. I paid a 20 euro deposit – I don’t need it yet 😉

  3. Sounds like you had a wonderful time, Penguin, even if you did have a painful, gimpy day. Maybe one day you’ll take a photo of one of your embroidery artworks so we can see it–I’m intrigued.
    As for the cane, I see no reason at all not to carry it “just in case” when you’re not sure you won’t need it. There’ve been plenty of times that I’ve left mine at home because the flare “wasn’t THAT bad” but later, when it got very much worse I ardently wished I had it. Having rheumatoid disease is reason enough to bring it along.
    Here’s to a great week! 🙂

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