My Ego vs The Cane
Last updated: June 2019
Living with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a never-ending journey of self-discovery. Every day I find simple things in life that, before diagnosis, I took for granted. Things like walking a great distance without tiring, spending entire days riding rides at amusement parks with my kids, or simply opening a bottle of water. Now, it seems each day I encounter a new “challenge” or learn something new about my “post-diagnosis” self. I’ve learned that perhaps I’m not quite as patient as I thought I was. I become easily frustrated with a body that doesn’t cooperate with what I want it to do. More often lately, my feet are stumbling and my knees are buckling even after walking seemingly short distance some days. Luckily, I can still get out a walk around for at least a small length of time- but even small excursions out can quickly wear me out for the rest of the day.
The pre-diagnosis me
One of my favorite “pre-diagnosis” activities was shopping. If there was a bargain within a 30-mile radius, I would find it. Clearance sections look out, here I come. Well, it just so happened recently that all 3 of my kiddos needed new shoes. I set aside a large number of “spoons” for the day to take my brood out, together with my husband, and we decided to make a day of it.
Our first stop was the shoe store and we made pretty quick work of it. 3 pairs on 6 tiny feet later, we had some extra time to run in another store. It was in this second store where I learned one of my greatest lessons about what my new PsA life is like.
Lo and behold in this second store, tucked neatly in the clearance section, filled with scales, bathroom gadgets, and overflowing bins was a great quality, perfectly priced cane. Hmmm I thought. My hips are aching, my legs feel leaden, and my back is ridiculously stiff- maybe I should take that cane for a spin. It was all in jest at the beginning--haha, don’t I look ridiculous, a perfectly young and healthy-looking person, using a cane. Canes, crutches, wheelchairs, those were for elderly people or those with obviously injured legs. But in the back of my mind, I thought wow, this feels pretty good…
After some consideration, I put the cane back and continued on my way. I’ve never considered myself a particularly vain person-sure I enjoy looking nice, but I’ve always been pretty comfortable in my own skin, not caring all that much about what other people think. At least I thought that was the case.
The battle royal: My ego vs PsA
Once I was home I began to second guess myself. Why didn’t I get it? It was a quality, well-made cane at a fantastic price. It made walking long distances easier. It would allow me to do more, for longer periods of time, without taxing my body so much. What was I thinking? Then it hit me. I knew exactly what I had been thinking….I’m too young for a cane. At 38, the thought of using a cane seems absolutely absurd. What would people say if they saw me using one?
“I don’t see anything wrong with her.”
“What is she playing at?”
“People these days, so lazy.”
Even to myself I thought, "No, I don’t need a cane...I’m not that bad..."
Call it denial.
Call it vanity.
Call it my ego.
Whatever you want to call it, it got in the way of me doing what was really necessary to make my life with PsA easier. By passing on that cane, I let my ego get in the way of more play time with my kids, longer strolls with my husband, and overall a better quality of life. I never really thought I cared what other people thought about me, but this event has taught me that maybe I do care. I don’t want people to assume that just because I look okay on the outside that I’m healthy on the inside. I cringe at the thought of people judging me and I care about how I look to others. I let my own ego of how I would appear to others get in the way of making the right choice for me.
Many would ask, and rightly so, “What’s the big deal? It’s only a cane. Get over yourself.” But really, it’s more than that. It is giving up another piece of the old me. In my heart, it is admitting defeat to this disease. But I refuse to go down without a fight. Fighting this disease means doing everything in my power to make life better for me and better for my family. It means accepting the “new” me. If making it better means using a case every now and again, then so be it. Off I head, back to the store, praying that it is still sitting there on the clearance rack. This time, I am going armed with a stronger sense of self and a fighting spirit.
Use what you can to make your life with PsA easier
There are a great many devices out there designed to make living with PsA a little easier.
- Openers and mandolins to help in the kitchen
- Support bars and chairs to help in the bathroom
- Walkers, canes, chairs, and shoe orthotics to help make traveling easier
Do you usually need to recover from a vacation?