The first snowfall may be pretty, but it also brings a host of other problems
I know that I have to be careful when I’m out and about walking in the winter. There is ice, the sidewalks aren’t even and can often be treacherous. I’ve taken to using my cane when I go out and about for my walks now. If I’m outside in the snow, I’ve made a promise to myself that I will always have it with me. That wasn’t always the case.
When I was learning to walk again back in 2013, I used my cane. It was a constant companion and helped me get to and from wherever I was going. After almost a year, when I was finally able to walk without it, I was happy to hang it up in the closet and have rarely taken it out again. I’ve been trying to figure out why this is, and I think it has a lot to do with what it was like during that time of my life.
Back in 2013, I was just trying to stay alive and take it day by day. My cane was my saviour at then. Over time, it became a reminder of the multiple sclerosis and how it had changed my life. I also noticed that people treated me differently because of it. I was almost never given a seat on the bus but the moment I got on with a cane, people would give me their seat right away.
I began to miss the days where I was treated like a normal person and not someone that would break in half should a strong wind pick up. I came to view my cane as a symbol of my disease and though I needed it to walk, I hated it.
When I was finally able to stop walking with my cane, it was a joyous day. However, there have been a few times when I wished it had been with me, when I would have relied on it, but I stubbornly pressed on without it. I’ve come to realize that I viewed it as a sign of weakness when it is really a sign of strength.
I’ve come to realize that my issue with my cane really had a lot to do with internalized ableism. I was not strong if I used a cane, I was weak if I had to rely on one. Now let me be clear, I don’t think this of anyone else who uses a mobility device. Only myself.
I have this misguided view of myself and always try to hold myself up to this standard which I have no hope of reaching. I don’t know when the idea took shape, but I thought that if I was using my cane that I was not tackling my disease or disability. I was letting them both win.
In reality, it’s actually the other way around. I’ve come to realise that my mobility device is a sign of strength. It shows the world that no matter what I’m going through, no matter how bad my legs or body are, that I will keep going, that I am mobile.
I need to let go of this internalized ableism, this idea that I’m weak if I rely on my cane, when it is really a sign of my strength.