Why I Only Occasionally use Mobility Aids
Since July 2022, my journey of mobility has been a dynamic one. Alternating between a cane and forearm crutches, I navigate the world with assistance. However, there are moments when I confidently walk without any aid, depending on the day and the environment.
Recently, I received a diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis in both my knees, and although not officially diagnosed, I strongly believe I have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), a connective tissue disorder. My knees and hips are particularly affected, causing chronic pain and instability. To help me in this endeavour, one of my doctors suggested using a walking stick, which has now unfortunately proven to be invaluable.
Having a mobility aid means I often encounter curious questions, some of which delve into personal territory. Generally, I try to respond with an answer that educates the person. Depending on the individual, the situation, and my own mood, I offer one of two explanations: "I have arthritis that affects my knees, and the mobility aid helps me walk," or "I have bad knees." I am comfortable with either response. There are times when I don't mind sharing the reasons behind my use of a mobility aid, but other times I may be in a rush or simply not in the mood to engage in a lengthy conversation. Ultimately, I owe no one an explanation.
So far, I have received mostly positive reactions from people. What I appreciate the most is when they treat me just as they did before I started using crutches and a cane. Independence is important to me, and I dislike being pitied or viewed as incapable of taking care of myself. I also find it frustrating when the validity of my illness is questioned.
Recently, I encountered a situation online that highlighted this issue. I shared a photo of my crutches on my Instagram story, and a few hours later, I posted a picture of myself without any aid. A girl I didn't know began questioning me. Although I tried to answer her inquiries, she couldn't understand how I could walk at one moment and then rely on crutches later.
I realised my response at the time was not as articulate as I would have liked it to be.
Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to provide a better explanation.
Yes, there are occasions when I can walk perfectly well without any aid. However, there are other times when I require a walking stick or crutches. It's simply a fact of my life. My condition causes pain in various parts of my body, particularly my knees, which play a vital role in walking. Furthermore, due to the weakness of my bones and connective tissue, my joints are highly unstable. Walking aids alleviate some of the weight on my legs and hips, reducing pain and enhancing stability, thereby decreasing the risk of falls.
In summary, the answer is yes, I can walk. But some days are better than others, and on some days, I require assistance. And that's perfectly okay. Not all forms of walking are equal. I am grateful for the mobility I do have, recognising how fortunate I am to accomplish what I can. Utilising a cane or crutches is merely a small part of my life and contributes to shaping the person I am today.