We’re fast approaching the season of goodwill. And so, too, is the usual question of what I would like for Christmas from my nearest and dearest.
I’m easily pleased with anything like a new hot water bottle cover, warm socks, jumpers and that kind of practical present. Anything to keep me warm during winter.
My walking stick is emotional support
However, there’s one thing that will never be on any Christmas list and that’s a new walking stick. Whenever an MS nurse or a member of an MS team see what I use it’s fair to say that they’re not exactly impressed. They’d much prefer me to use a duck handle aluminium aid, instead of the antique cabbage-stalk walking stick I’ve been using for the last few years.
They see it as old and less supportive. But actually, it’s anything but. The walking stick originally belonged to my father. So emotionally, I feel that dad is with me, which has taken away the insecurity and stigma of having to use a stick at all. This was a pretty big deal for me.
Having to accept I needed something to help me get around was a huge mental hurdle to overcome. But dad’s stick helped me to do this.
The cabbage stalk is always the centre of attention because it’s as unusual as it is distinctive. Quite aside from the distinguished appearance, it has a one-twelfth of a shilling coin on top of the stick.
It makes me feel having MS is not about me
At the end of the day it’s just a stick. If you’re unsteady a fall is sometimes unavoidable. Nothing is going to prevent it from happening, least of all a walking stick. Vain as I am, I used to worry about how I looked to other people when they saw me using one. One thing I hadn’t considered was how dad’s legacy would help change my state of mind.
The cabbage stalk is always the centre of attention because it’s as unusual as it is distinctive. Quite aside from the distinguished appearance, it has a one-twelfth of a shilling coin on top of the stick. When people inspect it, as they so often want to, it makes me feel that having multiple sclerosis is no longer all about me.
A healthier state of mind
I’ve come to realise there’s not much I can do about actually having MS. But there’s a lot to be gained from having a healthier state of mind, which helps me to live with it. It’s not always been easy. But then MS or no MS, isn’t that the same for everyone?
Although he’s no longer here to share the yuletide season with us, I carry an enormous debt of gratitude to my father. We didn’t always see eye to eye about my condition – after all MS is tough on everyone.
But every time I use his stick to help me on my way, I want to say thanks dad for helping me to get over ‘it’. And I look forward to a happier, if not healthier, new year.
Martin is an MS blogger and influencer. You can read more of his blogs at martinbaum.co.uk.
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