Embrace The Cane!

Last week I filled out the fab VIP Daily living tag. Created by Holly and Elle and Within this tag a question I answered I talked about how I embraced my cane after feeling self conscious.

I also have been talking to a lovely guy, and a similar conversation arose so I thought I would give a more in-depth story of how I embraced my cane.

I first had cane training lessons when I attended a specialised college for the blind. My sight was deteriorating, and after speaking with my Mum about it, she suggested getting in touch with the mobility department and asking for cane training encase I needed to use one in the future.
And that’s what I did.

In my free periods, I would have cane training with a mobility teacher, she was very patient with me; knowing how much I despised the thought of using a cane, I saw it as an embarrassment, and a way to draw unwanted attention to myself.
I used to cringe when having to use the cane on campus, and about in public.

The specialist college that I went to had a large number of visually impaired people who were mainstreamed in high school, and they didn’t use a cane, the majority of these people, like myself, felt confident without a cane and just saw it as a nuisance. So for the whole time of my college years myself and others who were visually impaired did not use a cane. And as horrible as it sounds, I actually believed that I would get mocked and sneered at if I were to admit I was taking these lessons.

I was in a juxtaposition with myself; I didn’t want to learn to use a cane, because that meant there was a possibility I would need to actually use it, but when I was out with my mobility teacher and it was just she and I, I felt more relaxed and wanted to conquer it. I was eager to learn and get things right, and would constantly chastise myself when my swing was out of time with my footing. (I am a left handed cane user; so as I step out with my right foot, my cane swings across my body to protect that side from being caught by an obstacle).She taught me how to swing in step, how to go up and down stairs and how to cross a road safely and properly as a cane user. By the time I left the college, I felt confident that I could actually use a cane if ever I needed to.

*********

The first time I used the cane was about a month before I lost my sight completely. Again, I admitted to my Mum how hard it was to get around, how I felt scared a lot of the time and would ask people to come with me somewhere, or guide me whenever we were together.
I would see bollards or wheelie bins at the last possible second, and on a few occasions, it was too late and I got a bruising from inanimate objects. Likewise, I would jump out of my skin and sop dead thinking there was an obstacle in my path, but there was nothing there.

I was constantly nervous leaving my home, and avoiding doing so at all costs unless I was assisted. I was losing my independence and I hated it.
I said to my Mum that when I came home for the summer, I would conquer my embarrassment of the cane and use it, because I knew it was time I used it. I was becoming a danger to myself, and potentially others.
Mum agreed.

Note to self: don’t tell Mum anything!
Mum tells the entire family i’ve decided to use my cane after all these years! “Even though she should have been using it years ago!”!

Every time I went to leave the house: “Sassy are you going to take your cane?”

*Hates self for telling Mother about the cane*

“No, I don’t need to., it’s really sunny out and I know this town like the back of my hand.”

A few days of this conversation happening…… Mother had asked me to go to the shop and get some bits, knowing I would struggle finding the items and the stress of it all I waited until my Sister got home from school and asked her to come with me.

“Yes. But only if you take your cane.”

“Francis don’t tell me what to do, i’ll use my cane when I need to!”
“Well i’m not taking you to the shops then, Sassy you said to Mum weeks ago that you know your sight is too bad to not use it, and that you know it’ll help you not only get around safely, but it will allow people to see that you can see them and not just being ignorant!”

*Fuming at my little Sister for telling me what to do, and showing sense*

“Fine! Let me go change.”

“Go change? It’s really warm outside Sassy, what are you on about?”

I’ll be back in a second!””

“Why the hell are you wearing a hoody?”

“So I can wear my hood up.”

“What? Why?”

“So people can’t see me.”

“Sassy you’re wearing a bright pink jumper with your hood up in summer, people are going to notice you, regardless of the cane!”

“Just shut up and let me do what I want!”

*All the way down to the shops*

*Oh god this is so embarrassing, see I knew people would be staring. I hate this so much*
“Sassy you look so stupid. Put your hood down.”

“No!”

“Put your hood down and your head up, everyone knows you’re blind anyway. It’s pretty obvious who you are !”

By the time we got home Mother was already back.

“Why are you wearing a jumper, and with the hood up?”

“So I can hide.”

*Mother just laughs and listens to Francis retail the scenario. While I stalk off*

From then it became a bit more of a frequent occurrence, if I left the house I would take it. Still under duress I will say! But I used it more often, still deliberately leaving it behind if I could get away with it!

********

The day I lost my sight, and actually realised I couldn’t see I kept thinking thank god I brought the cane!

I left the hospital with my Parents and embraced this ugly duckling, that had transformed into the beautiful white Swan before my eyes. Figuratively speaking of course! 😉

In the strangest of ways losing my sight, opened my eyes to the independence I could now have with this ugly white metal object.
Because I couldn’t see people watching me, or staring, they didn’t exist.

The cane became MY cane: my aid, my ally and an extension of me.
And from then, on I’ve never looked back! 🙂

I hope you liked my story 🙂

Have you ever felt in a situation similar to mine? Or as a cane user can you relate to my story?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below! 🙂




Much love, Sassy x

20 comments on “Embrace The Cane”

  1. I’ve been a wheelchair user for 20+ years. As I’m paraplegic and can’t walk, I have no choice. It’s the same to me as you are describing your cane is to you. I remember my first time out in a chair and my first time out alone. Somehow I survived. We all survive. I wish it were easy at first, but it eventually works out fine.

    • Hey George!

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, I truly appreciate it!

      Yes, I wish it were easier from the start, but I think it helps builds your personality and gives you a thicker skin.

      Thank you for your wise words 🙂 xxx

  2. If I were to hijack your story and make it my own, I’d still be at that point were I felt the need to hide behind a hood or a hat.I am a visually impaired person in denial. I can’t get over that mental speed bump that is preventing me from embracing the cane as an ally, rather than fearing it as my arch nemesis.

    I’m sure one day, like you, I will pull down the hood and let the world see me for who I truly am. For now, at least, I am resigned to skulking around in the shadows like a hooded crusader. Hiding my identity from all, at least in my minds eye. Fending off the inevitable, the embrace of the cane and my condition as a whole.

    Thank you for sharing your story, listening to your experiences are really helping me come to terms with my own reality. Keep them coming.

    • Hey,

      Thank you for being so open and honest, i’m really glad my post is helping you figure things out within yourself!

      Don’t feel bad or beat yourself up about it, we all take our own time to travel a similar distance, it’s about each persons individual journey.

      When you do embrace the cane, you will probably go through similar thoughts and emotions but, at the end of it, you’ll learn to like it, and what independence and freedom it can give you 🙂

      Sending you big hugs, i’m always here if you need to talk 🙂 xxx

  3. Love your story. I didn’t realise the training involved and I think it’s very wise that you underwent the training ‘just in case’.
    Oh wow, families! You write so well – very funny. I love the image of you in the middle of summer in your bright pink hoodie being incognito with your sis being so annoyingly sensible! I can’t imagine it felt very funny at the time though, I’ m happy for you that you feel how you feel now about it. It must have been amazing to realise the independence your cane could help give you.

    • Hey Lucy,

      It’s funny, until I started having sight problems, I too didn’t realise such things, going to the college also opened my eyes to the amount of support and equipment blind people can use to make their life easier 🙂

      Ahh yes my darling little Sister, there’s almost a 9 year age gap, so I felt even worse that I was being chastised by a child haha. I’m glad she did though 🙂

      Haha I know, I looked like an utter muppet! Even as I was doing it I knew I was being ridiculous, I just needed to have some control over something, even if it made me stick out like a sore thumb 😉 xxx

  4. It is something I have never experienced, nor even thought about and you captured the process so brilliantly. Embarrassment is the funniest thing, it crops up in the most unlikely places. I am just really glad you got the hang of your cane and that it’s been such help to you. Your mom sounds great, by the way!

    • Hey Tanya,

      Yes you are right, embarrassment truly is a funny thing. I have this weird fear of embarrassing myself, and so therefore I automatically overthink and make things worse for myself when I start to feel it!

      Thank you, I shall pass on your kind words, she really was amazing 🙂 xxx

  5. thank you for sharing your story, I think so many people can relate to this including myself. I think it will give a lot of people comfort to show that they’re not alone. Thank you for the lovely mention as well! xxx

    • Hey,

      Thank you so much for your encouraging words, I hope that even if one person can take comfort in knowing that they are not alone in feeling like this, but eventually it will pass, then I feel I have done a good job!

      You are most welcome, thank you for being wonderful 🙂 xxx

    • Hey Laura,

      Thank you for your comments 🙂

      Well I am glad I have spread some more knowledge about this blog 🙂

      Yes, it’s a strange concept, but I think for the most part it’s because people whose vision has deteriorated over time like mine, are in denial as to how bad their sight really is, and using a cane reinforces that. xxx

  6. Oh Sassy I’m so thrilled you’ve embraced the cane and made it your friend but I do love the teenage strops that prevailed even for something as important as this – don’t teenagers just find something and everything to strop about?! Very funny account of family life but I’m so pleased that you’ve accepted the cane – I hope it’s bright pink! #BloggerClubUK

    • Hey.

      I know haha, typical teenage behaviour, we can’t do anything without some dramatics thrown in there for good measure 😉
      Thank you, I’m glad I stopped being so stubborn,, I wouldn’t have a life if I hadn’t embraced the cane!

      Thank you for your lovely comment, and see you again 🙂 xxx

  7. I can only imagine what it was like but I think you are very brave, I had no idea that you could get cane training but imagine if you hadn’t done it! Sounds like you did completely the right thing and you are very brave. Thank you for joining us at #BloggerClubUK hope to see you again this week X

    • Thanks Claire, yes it’s called mobility training, and if like me you have lost your site at a later stage in life, you get a rehabilitation Officer to help you navigate your way through the world safely xxx

  8. When I was a teenager I worked in a college for blind students. I was always intrigued by how well they used their canes and full of admiration on how they coped without their site. I never imagined that anyone would feel embarrassed by having to use a cane, I also couldn’t understand why my cousin, the same age as me, was embarrassed to wear her glasses even though her eyesight was really poor. These are tools to improve your life, not cause embarrassment. It’s so strange how the mind works though, because when I became wheelchair bound, guess what? I was so embarrassed to be seen out in my wheelchair. I can’t explain it, it truly is daft, but you can’t help how you feel. Of course realising that your embarrassment is wasted because no-one else sees it the same way, does help a little. I’m glad you are using your stick now, and I am getting used to being in my wheelchair. WE need this things to get one with our lives and have our independence, so let’s continue to embrace them xx #blogcrush

    • That’s really interesting Ann, I’d be intrigued to know which blind school it was?
      Yes it is a minesites of looking and feeling different, especially if you have reached an age where you understand the judgement of others. It’s psychological come out we all just want to be liked and accepted for who we are, and if we don’t fit within the social norms box, we feel obliged to think differently of ourselves.
      It is strange that your cousin felt that way, but as you said yourself it’s just something that happens. Xxx

  9. Sisters can be SO annoying when they’re right, am I right?! It’s great that you’ve learned to love your cane, though I feel your pain when you didn’t want to use it. I’ve had a similar experience not wanting to use the tools that would help me because of what I felt they represented. Building up courage to blog about it! Thanks for sharing your story #BlogCrush

    • Certainly Alice, and especially if they are younger than you!
      I hope you manage to build up the courage to blog about it, I would absolutely love to read your story and your journey coming to terms with using your tools xxx

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