The Cane Chronicles
Last year I wrote a blog about aging gracefully.
I emphasized the need to accept our natural bodily changes with dignity, push our egos aside and celebrate the privilege of growing older.
And then it happened.
One morning about a month ago I could hardly get out of bed.
I assumed I was having an arthritic flare up in my left knee. I had these flare ups a few times in the past. But not like this. This was a bad one.
The doctor confirmed that it was arthritic inflammation. He gave me a cortisone shot and hoped that my knee would respond as well as it had in the past.
Advil. Ice/Heat. Heat/Ice. Advil.
The recovery time was taking longer than I had hoped and I was becoming increasingly more frustrated with my self-imposed lock down on the couch.
My ego held me hostage in a place of fear. I was longing for simple activities like just leaving the house to make a quick stop at the grocery store. But walking was a challenge.
I was afraid to leave the house for fear that I would fall and maybe break a hip…yikes! My balance was off and my thinking was self-defeating.
And then while icing and heating my knee on the couch one night, I read an article on “How to get through arthritic flare ups”. Apparently, I was following all the recommendations except the last one: “let go of any shame and self-judgment regarding the use of supportive devices that could assist in your mobility; i.e. canes, walkers, scooters, etc.” The article said that unless one was bedridden, it was important to stay mobile if only in short spurts.
Whaatt???! Was it time to invest in a cane????
My ego went into full overload:
Ego: “What would people think if they saw me using a cane? Are people going to see me as an old lady? Am I getting old? If anyone asks, can I just lie and say I was involved in an adventurous activity that injured my knee (skydiving?)”
Me: “Get over yourself. No one would ever believe you jumped out of a plane for fun. Get a grip and stop playing the victim! You need help…don’t be afraid to ask for it!”
So even though my ego was still blathering in my ear, I mustered up the courage to hobble into my local CVS the next day and asked for the cane display aisle.
And within minutes I saw her.
She had an ordinary look but I could tell she was for me. When I placed my hand around the handle, I immediately felt a connection.
I felt supported and balanced by her. She took the burden off my achy knee and was my ticket to mobility.
I named her Hilda.
She was the inner warrior I needed to give me the confidence to be out in public, flaws and all, and not care what I assumed others might think of me.
I was pleased at how much easier and less painful it was to walk around the grocery store with Hilda and was surprised with how much help I got from others. For the first time I can remember, I actually had a guy, who by the way called me Ma’am, (I have to let that go) run across the parking lot and asked if he could take my cart back to the store after I emptied out the groceries. At first, I hesitated, once again trying to do everything for myself, but then gave in, and said thank you and released the cart. It felt good to get some help.
Being a martyr can be exhausting.
Oh…and on a side note, I have to say that I found some other good uses for my cane. I used it the other day as a pointer when I wanted to point something out in a distance to a neighbor…and…I killed a spider with it (RIP). I’m feeling very comfortable now with my aide.
So, what’s the message here?
Let go of critical mind chatter when you need support. Push your egos aside. Asking for help has no age limits. It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of humility and strength.
Thanks for reading,
M.Ed., Mental Health Counselor, Life Coach, Advanced Certified Hypnotherapist, Reiki Master and Author of eBook, Finding Happiness Even Without a Fairy Tale Childhood