Cane can and can’t

ou know those old dance routines with the fancy foot work as dancers swing canes from one side to the other? The dancers engage in fast, fancy foot-shuffling around the cane as if it were a small, steady table. These dances look so smooth and easy that surely anyone could do, right?

Not with my cane, I can’t. No smooth moves with my cane.
I trip over the thing just walking down the hallway from the bedroom to the kitchen. I wake up feeling as spry as Fred Astaire until my cane-side foot stubs a toe hard against that metal rod. As pain surges up my leg, a lot of angry impulses breathe in and out of me.  I don’t dare act on any of them lest I trip again.

The medical field labels canes as tools to help folks like me who wake up thinking, “Hey, I think I will just stroll down the hall to the kitchen for breakfast.” I stretch, slide my legs over the side of the bed, stand and crumble back to the bed.

“No I am not strolling today. Not without a death grip on my cane, and not until I get some oil on these ‘Tin Woodman’ joints.”

At least in the movie the Tin Woodman could ask Dorothy to magically heal him with a liberal application from his oil can. Not me. I get a death grip on the cane and begin a serious conversation with my stiff hip. “Just one step. Just one. Believe me, it will get better. I promise.”

The cane assists me by turning my wobble-hobble into a Hop-Along-Cassidy routine to the lounge chair where I lay the cane on the floor. Unfortunately, a cane on the floor or leaning against the wall signals play time to visiting grandchildren who reach a sneaky hand forward to quietly lift the cane. Only when the grandchildren use my cane does it swing across the room in true Free Astaire style.

The grandchildren can’t resist grabbing the cane because it pulls apart and folds into three sections. The youngest children snap the pieces apart and pop them together over and over again. The internal bungee cord holds all the pieces together.

Really, I don’t mind their playing with the cane, unless I need the cane and they abandoned it in another room. Then, I’m up the creek without a cane to paddle.

Canes extend my reach so I can tap that sneaky kid on the head, “My cane, leave it alone.” Or with the cane, I can snag the fuzzy blanket back from the sneaky child or slip a spare colored pencil from their collection on the coffee table.

Canes silently announce “I need help.” Once I hesitated at the top of a couple of deep steps studying the descent without a handrail. The cane indicated, “This not-so-little-old-lady needs help!” A kind gentleman held out his hand to help me descend. Other times, the cane opened doors, carried a package, and earned me generous cautions, “Now be careful, watch your step.” No one ever said that when I hurried through the heavy doors without a cane and a load of packages.

Of course, people notice, so the cane is a conversation stimulator. Some overtly stare,  a few dare, to ask, “What happened?” I just say, “You know how Fred Astaire floated across the stage dancing with a cane? Well, I didn’t float, I flopped. I won’t try that again.”

About jottingjoan

retired former newspaper writer. Many children and grandchildren. One husband.
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