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In the past 18 months or so, the symptoms of my chronic illness have meant that there are some days that I need to use a stick to assist my walking or else I can’t leave the house. I started out with some standard, NHS-issue grey crutches while I got used to using an aid to walk; but I found these ultimately to be quite heavy and painful on my arms and across my shoulders. So last year I finally took the plunge and began to look for something that was more permanent, lighter and easier to use.
While browsing online, I found that there was a world of brilliantly designed sticks out there in loads of colours, patterns and for almost any purpose you could think of. Something so simple as having a wide choice of designs available was ultimately really helpful to me in coming to terms with using a stick as a mobility aid, as I was able to find something that I felt expressed my personality a little and could even coordinate with my outfits!
Through a bit of trial and error with different kinds, I discovered that my absolute favourite type of walking stick are the folding ones. They have an adjustable height feature so I can change the height dependent on the shoes I am wearing and, happily for me, they often come in the widest range of colours and patterns. The collapsable design is ideal as sometimes I feel fine when I leave the house but get worse throughout the day, so I can stow my stick away in my handbag in case I find that I need to start using it at some point. To round it all off, I’ve found this type to be really affordable too.
I also love the type of stick which opens out into a stool on three legs; although they cost a little more they are perfect for going to gigs or festivals, or for any place you find yourself that has the potential to be ‘standing room only’.
Now that I’ve turned into a bit of a collector of different patterns and colours of walking stick, I love to match them to what I’m wearing. Just because I need to use a stick doesn’t mean I can’t feel stylish and look great when I want to.
I know it might sound superficial but treating my stick as part of my outfit, and sometimes planning what I wear around it, helped me so much. It really opened the door to me starting to see it as a positive thing. Because honestly all I could see were the negatives at first, which meant that I was ignoring the hugely obvious benefit: I could actually leave the house independently on some of my worst days when that just wasn’t possible before.