So here's the deal, I'm going through a rough time. I have been for a while. So I'm going to journal about it, and those who want to know can read about it, and those who'd rather not can simply not read about it. Here's the other thing, I don't like talking about it to people's faces in public, it makes me uncomfortable. However since on my bad days I have a limp, that makes it really hard, because well meaning people ask me questions because they care, and that is awesome that they care, but sometimes it makes me very self conscious, and then I bumble through a quick explanation (which we haven't found yet) which sometimes leads to a much longer explanation that I usually just let dwindle away and smile an uncomfortable cheerful smile and be all like "It's all good though, we'll figure it out."
Some days when I'm tired or a headache has come on, I stutter and slur my words I even overly produce saliva which added to a mouth that doesn't want to work properly-well you get the picture. On those days I usually just try to get out of the social situation as quickly as possible.
My muscle fatigue and pain has lead me to stay at home a lot more. Two weeks ago I made the mistake of going for a walk downtown in the evening when my legs were a bit sore, by the time I got to my front steps I could no longer put weight on my right foot. Thank goodness that my partner was with me and I wasn't alone with the kids, I wouldn't have made it back up the hill, and my youngest still needs a booster seat so calling a taxi would not have been a very safe option. Needless to say, choosing to go on a ten minute walk now takes a fair amount of consideration for me. I didn't want to have a cane, I thought: I don't really need a cane. I have days where I hardly limp at all. What would people think of me? I don't even have a diagnosis where a cane would be necessary. It's just pain. More people will ask questions, questions I don't have answers to. What if I bring it and I don't end up needing it, am I just going to walk around with this cane and look like I'm looking for attention?
I had so much insecurity about using a cane, that I either stayed inside when I really wanted to walk, or I put up with way more pain then I had to getting back up the hill to my home. So one day my son asked me to go into the antique store, and I said "sure". Right by his favourite things to look at was a barrel of canes and walking sticks. There were some really pretty walking sticks, all gnarled and stained pink and purple. But there was this one...the top of it was naturally shaped like a femur, it had a more natural stain and a crack but something about it, didn't feel like a "I've given up" cane. Let's face it is my biggest fear about the whole thing, that getting a cane is like giving up and in to whatever this is. So when I brought it to the counter, the man told me that the cane had belonged to an auctioneer, that he not only used it for his limp but also for his livelihood. That made me feel better about it. Having something to lean on was going to be okay, it was cool looking and had good energy. So I left the antique store feeling a little self-conscious and figuring out the best way to use it to keep some of the weight off my sore leg. I got the hang of it, but when I went into a restaurant where I know the manager, I felt a little foolish because I still felt a bit like do I really need this? I answered a few questions awkwardly, but what was great about it was while I was standing looking at the dessert fridge, I could lean on it. Usually I would be needing to shift my weight from foot to foot, stretch and move around in one spot to be comfortable. I didn't need to do that at all, standing in one spot was relatively painless. After that, the kids and I went for a further walk, I didn't spend my time downtown watching the clock, worried that if I got tired we wouldn't make it back up the hill. This little auctioneer's stick was going to get me up that hill, no matter how much my leg hurt. It struck me that I felt so much freedom from something that always been a symbol of limitation to me. I accepted this "cane", in fact buying it had really brightened my outlook on life to come. I wasn't going to lose my freedom, I was going to be able to go for longer walks with my kiddos, even walks by myself.
I got home and explained my happiness at my new found freedom, how my outlook had changed, how before I was having pain and mobility issues I saw canes and wheelchairs as confining and restrictive but to someone who cannot travel easily otherwise these things can be symbols of hope, freedom and normality.
So the reason I'm writing tonight and not at Nuit Blanche, is because my pain isn't just in one leg or even just my legs for that matter. The next day, my other leg decided it was going to hurt even more than the one I was using the cane for and the arm that was holding the cane to help me walk was feeling quite painful as well. I am grateful for the day of freedom the cane gave me and the new perspective, but using a cane is just not going to work for me as my pain is not simply located in my one leg and the cane actually seems to exasperate it in other places.
Illness is simply another catalyst for learning, and I am thankful for everything I have learned so far, about myself, about friendship and about different human perspectives, but sometimes I really wish I could learn about this stuff by watching an after-school special.