Walkers, Canes, and Sticks OH MY!

I have temporarily had to use wheelchairs, walkers, rollators, scooters, canes, and walls many times over the years during recovery from an MS flare up, or some other self induced injury. I am trying to be grateful that after having Multiple Sclerosis for over 20 years, I am only now at the point that assistive devices seem have become a permanent rather than temporary feature of my life.

With so many assistive devices available in the world today, how do you decide which one is perfect for you? Is there such a thing as THE PERFECT ONE?

I believe the answer is NO!

While I am learning to navigate this new world of mine, I’m hoping to not only share my experiences/opinions, but also to ask you to share yours as well if you don’t mind.

For any of you that have written about this in the past, please feel free to drop your link in the comment section as well. Maybe someone will “stumble upon it” and find the answers they have been looking for?

So many options:

Although it’s not pictured here, I think MY STICK, is my go to, most used aid. Simply for it’s convenience. It’s small (in comparison to the other options) and definitely portable. I didn’t realize how much I had been using walls, people, and other objects until Covid tried to make me fear touching people and things and vice versa. Unfortunately, I forgot my stick in Colorado on my last visit and it seemed impractical to ask my daughter to send it back. The problem is I can’t find one JUST LIKE it. It’s much taller/longer and I feel even thicker than any cane I have seen. ( 4 or 5 feet tall)

I ordered the one (actually 2), pictured below, from Amazon when I got home from Colorado. While the price was right, and bonus that I have now have two for next time I lose one, it doesn’t feel as strong as the wood one. I do like that it will “break down” or collapse when I am at a doctor’s or in my car etc, but I’m afraid it will break down when I don’t want it to. We shall see…. maybe there is another story in the making?

My 2nd go to is the rollator/walker

After one of the many times, I had to “learn to walk” again, the doctor and I discussed the possibility of my using a walker.

I was concerned that leaning on a walker would not help my posture. Maybe it would improve something, but at the cost of something else? He had to write a special script for me to have a “taller than average walker” with a bench or seat on it so that I could use my arms to help keep me upright, not just to help me raise my legs. (if that makes sense) The result is that I have a BIG, like bariatric, walker that I love, BUT it is SO big, it doesn’t fit in my trunk, and to be honest it’s kind of heavy. I almost feel invincible when I am using it. I am 90% confident, I can keep myself up if I trip, and I have a ready made seat available if I need it. * Bonus, if you sit on it, someone else can push you if they had to.

Another option I have – The manual or transport wheelchair

As far as wheelchairs go, I believe this is the smallest and lightest type available. It’s actually the first assistive device I had to use because I couldn’t move either of my legs. I’ve also used it multiple times when I haven’t been able to bear weight on a lower limb from surgery etc. They do make knee scooters, and crutches, but with my lack of balance, using them would be asking for trouble. I also use mine when I have to a distance of more than 1/2 a mile to make. I hope the more I use the rollator, the stronger I become and that distance will be longer. I used to try walking behind the wheelchair (using it as a rollator/walker), but not only can it not support you leaning on the handles, without enough weight on the seat, but you have no way to reach the breaks if you trip.

I have used a wheelchair at the airport for years, which allows me to still travel as much as I do. Most airlines have changed the type of wheelchairs they have though, so it’s thrown a bit of a wrench in the works.

I can completely understand WHY they changed.

This type of chair allows them to not only push more than one passenger at a time, but allows them to store the passenger’s bag under their seat.

Once they have dropped you off at the gate though, you can not move if you have to use the restroom or something unless you have carried along another assistive device. There are no wheels on the sides of the chair for you to use.

I have carried my walker or stick with me, when I could walk, but I’ve had to keep my own wheelchair with me when I was not able to walk at all.

Bonus or alternate uses for a wheelchair:

Instead of attempting to carry something with both arms, use the wheelchair as a cart or dolly.

I used to rock/roll the twins to sleep. We’ve also used it as their “stroller” because the weight in the seat allowed me to lean a bit. If my legs got tired, I could put them on my lap, tie them, in and use my arms.

The Power Wheelchair

The last piece of equipment I own is a power wheelchair that my parents purchased second hand for me. If insurance doesn’t cover it, which they most likely won’t if your condition is temporary, and maybe even then not, these chairs are EXPENSIVE.

I most commonly use mine outside of my home because of the uneven ground. I don’t have a lift or other way to transport it, so home it stays. I actually started using it a lot more than I ever have after the last surgery. When you are using a manual chair, if you cant use your legs, you have to use both hands navigate which makes balancing laundry or trying to vacuum difficult. It proved to myself that I could do it, but using a power chair with one handed controls allowed me to use my other for whatever task I was trying to complete. Much easier! You probably shouldn’t, but when I could keep my legs straight, I could use the chairs power to push heavy things.

I want to remind you that I am not a doctor or expect at any of the things I have written about today. I’m trying to accept my knew limitations as gracefully as possible, and hope that by sharing this information, it might help. Again, if you use assistive devices or have any tips/ stories to share, please insert your link or comment in the comment section!

Thank you for reading!


8 thoughts on “Walkers, Canes, and Sticks OH MY!

  1. I’m full time wheelchair l got mine paid for through Medicare if I remember correctly it was $3000. It has held up much better than the standard chairs. It’s starting to break down now after 2.5 years. I’ve been through 3 rollators. Gravel roads are hard on everything. I haven’t found any heavy duty aids. Someone should hire me for a equipment testing person.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I totally agree with your walking stick concerns every adjustable one has failed too. I started getting solid sticks, not ideal but no collapse.

    Liked by 1 person

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