Sticking with the stick

I am still having to use a walking stick to get about, I have found out that I┬áhaven’t done any major damage to my knee, just worn away a bit of the cartilage, but it is not something which can be fixed. I am going back to the physio next week, but they have told me I will not be able to run distances again, probably only 5 or 10Ks and certainly not on the road. My dreams of doing Ironman cannot happen. And that is ok, I can find other ways of keeping fit. My dog means that I am walking a great deal and it is certainly kinder to my joints. Which really, I do need to start thinking about as I am hypermobile, and not invincible.

But it does not give me the all out high that running does, when my knee is a bit better I am going to try cycling again, but I only really took up cycling proper because of doing triathlons. I suspect they are not going to happen now, although in a few years time if I find ones that run off road then I might be able to. I guess it is a case of patience something I am really, really not known for at all!

In the meantime I will carry on using my stick, because when I let vanity or pride get the better of me and I spend a day out and about without in by the end of the day I am limping and shuffling along at half pace and in a lot of pain, where as using the stick I am able to keep going for longer, with good posture and with only a little pain.

As it looks like the stick is going to be around for a while I have decided that I am going to get a funky one, so I have found the one I want, it is just out of stock for a couple of weeks, so I will have to wait that little bit longer. I have been putting off buying one as I was hoping it was a temporary thing, and it still might be, just kind of longish term temporary – not the few months I originally hoped – it has already been much longer that a few months.

It is hard adapting to using a stick, it is a very obvious declaration of a problem, but when you have something like a plaster cast people seem to be able to process it as broken leg, that’s ok. Whereas I get stared at by people. I am still relatively young to be using a walking stick and when I am using it there isn’t much of an obvious limp, so I guess people don’t know what to do with the information, so they look at me strangely. That’s ok, I can cope with it, but sometimes, when I am feeling vulnerable for using a stick, it makes me feel bad.

I have noticed I keep saying to people, when they mention the stick, ‘but this time last year I was training for a marathon’ as if I need to justify that this is only temporary, its not who I really am. Which is strange and it is teaching me a lot about identity.

I am also deeply uncomfortable using my stick when I am meeting new clients or have pitches, it feels like a massive weakness to be admitting and putting out there. And of course what does this say about my attitude to disability, or societies attitude? I am rubbish at being ill – even just a cold, because I do not like showing weakness, this is something I am working on and its ok to be ill and to need rest. I think in my head it is ok for other people to be ill, just not me.

I have done a lot of work with people with disabilities – I volunteered when I was a teenager at a playcentre for handicapped children and I never saw them as ‘weak’. It is just me I am seeing as weak. I think that also links in to depression too. I have never taken time off of work because of it, even when quite frankly I really needed to.

A lesson in patience, kindness and identity, all symbolised in a stick.