26 April 2012


The ability to walk is something we often take for granted. Most of us are fully mobile, able to quickly dash to the other room to get something we forgot, to hike out to the barn over uneven ground without worrying, to pace the floor as we think.
Having your ability to walk suddenly impaired is a very eye-opening experience.
I have palindromic rheumatism – a mild, non-degenerative form of arthritis that flares up without any rhyme, reason, or warning, and then disappears. My ankles are the joints usually affected – one or the other, thankfully never both at once (so far), and occasionally I have troubles in my hands and wrists. Honestly, I have a very mild variety of the trouble: I can go years between flares, often the pain lasts no more than a few days, and the longest episode I had lasted a few months. Advil manages the pain, and really, it’s not so bad.
However … when my ankle gives out, putting weight on it can feel like the bones are grating against one another inside the joint. This, of course, makes walking somewhat more mindful than it is the rest of the time: every step is carefully considered, and I place my foot gently, testing the joint before shifting my weight, to see if it’ll hold without pain or not. Even during the course of a flare up, the pain will ebb and flow – I can be walking fine, then suddenly my joints are screaming at me to stop.
Now I have figured out how to walk without stressing that joint – usually. Gently testing the steps, not twisting the ankle at all, and walking on the ball of my foot rather than heel-toe, or with a careful limp that prevents the full flex of the injured ankle. None of it is particularly graceful, and sometimes, I just need a little extra support.
So, today I picked up two rubber cane tips at the drugstore ($2.99 for both of them), and went out to the stand of poplar saplings with my machete. I cut two straight and sturdy trees that looked like they could probably be stuffed into the openings of the cane tips, shaved the bark off, and shaped the ends.
I have a little bit of sanding to do, and I need to add a coat of Howards Feed-n-Wax, then they are ready for use.
If you’re local to me and you’d like one, just let me know!

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