Mobility Matters
Stepping Out in Faith

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FROM THE TOP TO THE TIP OF THE BOTTOM

All right.” I let out a long sigh. “I can at least try using a cane.”

Bob winked as if he were certain all along that he’d win me over.  He bent down and felt around his feet, lifting a large black nylon bag I hadn’t even noticed him carry in. How could I not notice that big bag? “Superb.” He smiled confidently. ”Now what size do you think you’ll need?”

“Size? What do you mean?” Would I need other equipment, like special shoes?

“I’m referring to the length of the cane you’ll need,” he explained. “How tall are you?”

“Five foot one.”

“Fifty-two inches would be about right then.” He rummaged through his bag and extracted a folded cane, then slid his hand down the length of that section. “Yes, this is the one.” He seemed to be feeling for something else. “This cane has a marshmallow tip. That’s because it’s small and shaped like a marshmallow. Here, feel it.”

marshmallow tip

I tentatively reached out and slid my fingers over the smooth white tip.

He poked around again, his fingers feeling for a specific texture. In spite of myself, I was intrigued. He withdrew another cane. “Now this one has a more rounded tip. It’s called a gliding hook tip.” He held out the bottom to me. “Feel the difference?”

“Hmm.”

glide tip

I pictured myself gliding effortlessly down the street. Gliding seemed good. Like ballroom dancing.

Bob took out another. “This one has a pencil tip. Feel how long and narrow it is.”  I politely touched the pencil-like tip, which made me think of my teacher pointer.  Bob went on. “This tip can fit into smaller areas, giving important tactile information.”  

pencil tip

He surfaced again with yet another cane and tip. “This particular one comes with a roller ball tip. It’s perfectly round. See how smooth that is. It just rolls down the sidewalk.”

I noticed his voice took on that admiring tone sports car aficionados use as they describe the attributes of a 1965 Corvette. They rattle off any number of details about it. I almost asked how much mileage he thought this particular cane would get.

roller ball tip

He explained how each cane was divided into four sections. “See this?” He stretched an elastic cord outside the red casing. “This enables the user to fold the cane up into neat sections. Isn’t that nifty?” Bob’s eyes sparkled.

For a moment, I softened toward him.

Bob, the Cane Man.

folding cane - 4 sections

His voice took on a persuasive tone. “Want to try a few canes?” And go for a spin?

“Ah, well, hmm.…” I couldn’t get out of this situation without being outright rude.

“Try the fifty-two inch,” Bob said, deftly unfolding it. “Are you right-handed or left?”

“Right.”

He placed it in my hand, straightening my thumb and index finger while curling my others around the top. “Don’t worry about this elastic strap. It’s necessary to store the cane compactly when you aren’t using it. For now, let it hang. Just walk around the room,” he encouraged. “Back straight, head up.”

Was I a model now?

“Is that the right length? Would you like to try a shorter one? I have an excellent forty-nine inch. Lighter weight, too.”

I stretched out my hand to take the shorter cane. “So many choices and decisions!”

“Amy, fitting yourself with the best cane is key in how you progress. Ideally, your cane should be a little longer than you are tall to give you a better reach. You can experiment with length and tips until you find the one you feel best most comfortable with–then stick with it.”

“So Bob, your advice is to stick with one stick, is that it?”  I grinned then frowned again. Comfortable! What was he talking about? I’d never feel comfortable with a cane of any kind.

“The cane you’re holding has a roller tip. Let’s try that now.”

I stepped out onto my hardwood floor. Roller Derby, here I come!

From the Top to the Tip of the Bottom
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20 thoughts on “From the Top to the Tip of the Bottom

  • September 2, 2014 at 6:07 pm
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    I had no idea so many sizes and types existed, I hope you got the right one for you

  • September 2, 2014 at 6:13 pm
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    Very interesting Amy. I had no idea that there were so many different types of canes that someone without sight could use. I enjoy your writing style too. Although I don’t know anyone who is blind, you kept my interest through to the bottom!
    ~ Jodene

  • September 2, 2014 at 6:44 pm
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    I remember the first cane I received. Oh how I cried. I was 20 at the time and having a cane seemed like the worst possible thing I could have. I tried to fool myself into thinking that my visual impairment wasn’t that bad and that I could get around without it. But once I started using it, I was able to get around much better.

    Now, I’m grateful for it (especially in the airport when I get to go through the security lines faster 🙂 )

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  • September 2, 2014 at 7:33 pm
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    Roll on brave soul. Great post!

  • September 2, 2014 at 8:25 pm
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    So, Amy, which one stick did you stick with? Thanks for sharing – I appreciate the pictures!

  • September 2, 2014 at 9:35 pm
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    Hi Terry,
    And that is only the basic graphite cane and tips! There’s a lighter cane that opens up in a telescopic fashion, each piece a little bit smaller than the piece above it. You throw it out and it “unstacks,” (For lack of a better word). There is a tip that resembles a flying saucer and other assorted metal tips–flat, circular, and eliptical-shaped. They also have colored canes now that come with at least one color tip–red. The length varies according to one’s height.
    Thanks for reading!
    Amy

  • September 2, 2014 at 9:37 pm
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    Thank you so much, Jodene! Ha ha! “Through to the bottom!” I like that double meaning!

  • September 2, 2014 at 9:42 pm
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    Benecia,
    It is so difficult, certainly. You feel so “out there!” on display and think the world ‘s watching you.
    I’m so glad that kept with it long enough to realize that you were getting around much better. Sometimes, our distaste keeps us from using it long enough to discover that! Like you, I realize that having a cane can be helpful in airports!
    Come back and read some more of my stories!
    Thanks,
    Amy

  • September 2, 2014 at 9:43 pm
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    Hi Kerry,
    ha ha! I will! =)
    Amy

  • September 2, 2014 at 9:45 pm
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    Lisa, I ordered the round rolling ball tip. The pencil tip kept getting stuck between sidewalk squares. The glide tip kept gliding to the side for me. The marshmallow tip usually melted on the hot sidewalk…nah, just joking. But it got stuck, too, and I ended up jabbing my stomach with it! Take care! Amy

  • September 2, 2014 at 11:29 pm
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    Howdy Amy! I really enjoy your blogs. Sometimes it’s like you’ve read my thoughts and found the words that eluded me. Like so many others, I’m also struggling with ‘cane acceptance’, so I understand how difficult it is. I like to think of myself as ‘walking around’ blind. I tell myself that I can see well enough on a reasonably bright day to avoid all but the small obstacles. I usually notice things like curbs drop offs and I certainly don’t walk into walls. One of my issue though, is that I use a support cane due to a bad left knee and being right handed, I’m unable to use that and a long cane together. Also like so many others, it makes me VERY self-conscious. I’ve overheard enough rude comments to realize that many people think that white cane means total blindness, and they get rude or even angry that I have the audacity to fake a disability. I hope to be able to dispense with the support cane after knee surgery this winter, but I know that I’ll still hesitate to transition to that long cane.

  • September 3, 2014 at 12:19 am
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    Great post! I love your easy writing style. It makes learning something new very interesting and entertaining. Thanks!

  • September 3, 2014 at 1:23 am
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    Hi Quincy,
    So glad that you enjoy my posts! I like how you put that ‘walking around blind.’ I was like that for years and years! 😀
    I’m so sorry that you’ve heard people say rude comments. I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone actually say something rude but I’ve had people watch me, narrow their eyes and look into mine as if they were testing me. LOL!
    Yes, people DO think that a white means total blindness. It’s kind of what people have been unconsciously programmed to think / believe. So it’s up to us to change that perception since we’ll be the ones to directly benefit from the change.
    Sorry to hear about your knee problems. Handling ONE cane is bad enough, let alone trying to coordinate two! I hope your knee surgery goes well this winter. Take it easy.
    PS I think when the time is right for you to transition into using the cane, in time you’ll feel both relief and a renewed sense of independence. =)
    Amy

  • September 3, 2014 at 1:26 am
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    Thank you, Helena!
    Your words are music to my ears. 🙂
    Amy

  • September 3, 2014 at 1:30 am
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    Beautiful post, Amy! You write in such a way that I feel like I’m “in this” with you. I know your book is going to be a great success!

  • September 3, 2014 at 3:55 am
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    Loved reading about all this. Big learning curve, will look completely different now to these walking sticks.

  • September 3, 2014 at 4:23 am
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    Thank you, Laura.
    You’re such an encouragement!
    Amy

  • September 3, 2014 at 4:50 am
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    Renee, I’m so glad!
    As an English teacher, it was such a privilege to teach English for Specific Purposes. Most of the time I taught the international military about weapons and helicopters, tanks, submarines, you name it! I was so fascinated by these topics. I’ve now channeled that privilege into teaching others about the tools involved in the life of a vision-impaired person with the same passion!
    Thanks for reading!
    Amy

  • September 3, 2014 at 6:24 am
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    I’m so glad to finally ‘meet’ you through this blogging challenge Amy. I read a brief snippet about you and was intrigued. Wow: I didn’t realize so many canes existed! Good to know, although I hope no one in my family, myself included will ever need one, though you have certainly paved the way! 😉 I appreciate your sense of humour and writing style: a joy to read. Keep it up! <3

  • September 3, 2014 at 1:13 pm
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    Good morning, Elly!
    Nice to meet you as well.
    I’m glad we share a sense of humor! 🙂
    Thank you for following your intrigue!
    Amy

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