Bought a Stick

I bought a folding walking stick this week – mainly as an experiment to see if it would help with balance.  Um … it does.  Which is good news.

I use a reacher because my back is bad and it saves some energy from moving about to get stuff. I noticed that when I went upstairs with the reacher using it as stick for support seemed to help.  So that, combined with knowing Rachel had success using a stick, inspired me to try for myself. I bought a fairly cheap one (£9.32 plus VAT) but it’s pretty light yet sturdy and I’m rather pleased with it.

I am really surprised how much it helps – particularly as I am wiped out this week and really weary.  It’s not so much for supporting my weight as my arms are too weak for that, but I can see in a desperate situation (like when I had to stand at my friends funeral) it would be a help.  Mainly it’s great for balance.  I didn’t realise how much I cling onto furniture, walls and doors before we filled in the DLA claim form and I had to really think about it.  Using the stick is like having something to steady myself with that moves with me.

I also feel a lot better about the idea of being out in the wheelchair (say at the theatre in December to see the panto) and then walking to the toilet if I have a stick to get me from wheelchair to toilet. Not only will it help with balance but it’s sort of more acceptable to other people I think and will be a visible sign of the struggle I have moving about in those kind of busy social situations.

I never thought a stick would be worthwhile but I’m surprised to say it is.  Having practised indoors I’m going to get the courage up to use whilst out.  I even have my eye on a rather colourful and funky Switch Stick (I found the purple polka dot one on ebay cheap which I might bid on) for when I’m feeling loud and proud 😉


15 Responses to “Bought a Stick”

  1. 1 Connie December 3, 2007 at 10:58 pm

    When I first got my cane, my Physical Therapist said all the things you did (use it for balance, to steady yourself, when you feel weak, etc.) but the most important thing was that it would help other people understand that I’m ill. It’s back to that same ole invisible illness situation. What a shame that people still don’t get it.

    I’m happy that you’re accepting of the cane though. It took me a while to feel ok with it. Get the purple one! Live it up!

  2. 2 Rachel M December 4, 2007 at 12:00 am

    I agree with Connie. The most benefit I realised was that people recognise me as a person who is having difficulties. For this reason, I would also recommend people with invisible illness to use it. (My doctor joked to get the one matches my hair colour. Then, get differnt colours to suit my mood of the day. :-p )
    Originally, I got the stick to support my weakness. I realised that it does not help much for weakness, especially when my arm gets too weak to grip on it. But as you mentioned, it helps with balance and there are other benefits.
    I am seriously considering on wheelchair, but it will take very long time for me to make the decision.

  3. 3 rachelcreative December 4, 2007 at 11:41 am

    Connie – I could hear the voice of my physio from last year (who I was referred to for headaches and neck problems before I had my CFS diagnosis) saying I should learn to use my muscles for balance and not a stick. I could imagine her tutting and shaking her head. It’s re-assuring that your PT encouraged you to use a cane.

    I decided that I should be able to use my body to balance but that using the stick might help me to move aorund more in the first place and so be able to build a little more strength. But then CFS never does respond in quite the way I think it will.

    It seems ridicilous to need a stick in hand to let people know how things are – but it makes sense now.

    Rachel – You inspired me to try the stick. If you can do I was sure so can I. Sticks are not brilliant for weakness – but at least you have something to cling onto instead of clawing at furntiture or people. But yes there are definate benefits.

    I still feel a bit weird caryying it round when I am not leaning on it, more gently swinging 🙂

    I am so happy to have my wheelchair. It has made some impossible things more possible. But a self propelled chair is no good for someone with CFS if they have to push themselves. It’s too exhausting. Although I would consider a chair where I could scoot me feet along the ground if I was on my own I think. But if you want to go places any distance it’s difficult because of getting it in and out of the car.

    I still yearn for an electric chair so I can be in control more and “walk” alongside people instead of out in front on my own. But the practicalities are still tricky.

    Have you considered a walker with a seat? Apparently four wheel walkers are more stable than three wheels.

    Sorry for the huge long comment!

  4. 4 Nina December 4, 2007 at 5:08 pm

    Yes, definitely purple pola dots!!! And Rachel, you DIDN’T have to stand at your friend’s funeral. It takes a while to work up the courage, but I have sat on the ground at funerals and religious services, and you should see me fall on the floor and scream for an immmediate IV at hospital emergency rooms. I think I should get an Oscar!!

  5. 5 rachelcreative December 4, 2007 at 6:31 pm

    😀 Oh Nina! I’ll remember you as my inspiration next time I’m in a situation like that. I got close last time I went to the airport (and didn’t use assistance). When I was younger I would sit anywhere. I guess I worry now about getting up again!! LOL.

  6. 6 Alicia December 4, 2007 at 10:19 pm

    Hi Rachel,

    I’m glad you’ve found something to help make things a little easier for you. Like Rachel M. mentioned, there are many times I’ve wished I could use a cane so that people would be able to “see” that I was ill, although I don’t need one at all. I imagine, though, that if the situation were reversed and I truly needed to use a cane or a wheelchair, I definitely wouldn’t want my illness to be so visible. I guess there is no such thing as a happy medium!

    At least with all your art skills and creativity you will have a really great looking cane!


  7. 7 bbabe December 4, 2007 at 11:08 pm

    I’m glad you found something that helps. Keep hanging in there; you’re an inspiration to all of us out there with chronic illness.

  8. 8 rachelcreative December 5, 2007 at 10:38 am

    Alicia – I suppose there’s no ideal when you’re having to deal with chronic illness and/or chronic pain! I think people can be a bit rubbish at trying to understand other people at the bet of times. Lets hope us glamourous chronics can help change a little bit of the world at least 🙂

    bbabe – no, you’re an inspiration! Ok we’re all an inspiration to each other 🙂

  9. 9 tammyrenee December 6, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    This reminded me of a walking stick my grandfather made from a sappling. He pulled it up by the root, which made a nice hand grip, sanded it down and stained it. While most people didn’t even stop long enough to admire it, grandpa had less issues with using one he made himself. He “bonded” with it, you might say. I’ve noticed other folks’ canes ever since. For the most part, you see the boring metal ones with white rubber stoppers, but every now and again, I spy someone with a decked-out model and have to smile.

  10. 10 rachelcreative December 6, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    That would be lovely to make your own stick. What a talented grandfather.

    Now I feel I am letting you down a little with my black metal stick with black stopper 😉

  11. 11 tammyrenee December 10, 2007 at 9:31 pm

    WWWWWHHHHHHHHHHAAATTTTT??????? You have the plain ole boring stick???? RACHEL! I’m so ashamed! Ha, ha. I’ll let you squeak by with that one for now, but I’ll be expecting you to soon paint on some polka dots or tie a ribbon around it or… something! I tried to make my own stick once, by the way. Not that I needed one, but simply because Papa’s looked so cool. Must have pulled up 10 or so sapplings with no luck finding the right root shape, ha, ha. At that rate, I feared I would deforest our wooded area before I ever got just the right look, lol.

  12. 12 rachelcreative December 11, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    LOL Tammy.

    I’ve ordered a purple polka dot one. It won’t go with any of my outfits though ….


    I have a mental picture of you yanking innocent sapplings up now!

  13. 13 Harper December 30, 2007 at 2:21 am

    Walking sticks are AMAZING. I finally broke down and bought one in August and it’s been a life saver. I have Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome and it can be quite fatigue inducing since my heart is usually working twice as hard as anyone elses. I have a cane that folds up and fits in my purse so I can use it when I need it. I also found a website ( that has a really interesting selection

  14. 14 lilwatchergirl January 16, 2008 at 10:46 am

    I *love* Switch Sticks. I have three! I don’t use them much nowadays, except in the house, as I tend to need crutches outdoors. But they are truly fab. 🙂 Plus they sell cool accessories to use with them, like wrists straps, and little bags to put your mobile phone in.

    Great blog you have here. 🙂

    – Naomi

  15. 15 rachelcreative January 17, 2008 at 10:38 am

    Thanks Naomi 🙂 I am a fan of your blog. Not of your health professionals though … but that’s another story!

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