Friday, February 24, 2017

Not All Walking is Created Equal

A response to the girls who questioned why I used crutches when I could walk.

Since the middle of January I have alternated between using a cane and forearm crutches to walk with. Sometimes depending on the day and the place I will walk with no aid. At school, however, the walking distance each day is so great I use the crutches everyday.

I have recently received the diagnosis of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a connective tissue disorder. One of the more affected areas of my body are my hips. This causes chronic pain and instability. One of my doctors suggested the crutches and they have been invaluable in helping me get around school.

With having a service dog I am used to constant questions, some of which get very personal. I generally try to give an answer that will help educate. When asked about the crutches depending on the person, the situation, and my mood I give one of two answers: "I have EDS, it is a connective tissue disorder that affects my hips. The crutches help me to walk." or "I have bad hips."

I am perfectly fine giving either answer. Sometimes I don't mind telling people why I use crutches, other times I'm in a hurry or am not in the mood to give the whole talk. I don't owe anyone anything.

So far I've had pretty good reactions from people. My favorite is when they treat me the same as before the crutches and cane arrived. I enjoy being independent. I don't like to be pitied or looked at like I can't do anything for myself. I also don't like to be questioned on the validity of my illness.

This was something I ran into yesterday in the elevator of my building. I had run down to take the trash out to the dumpster. I left Jenny in my dorm and since I was taking the elevator down and then right back up I left my cane in the room also. Going down was fine. Going back up some girls I didn't know started questioning me. At first I tried to answer their questions, but they didn't understand how I could be walking right then, but couldn't walk without crutches around campus.

I didn't present this nearly eloquent enough then. I will try to do better now, but here is my answer.

Yes. Sometimes I can walk just fine without any aid. I might not even limp. Other times I need a cane or crutches. It's just the fact of my life. I have an illness that causes pain in a variety of areas in my body, especially my hips which are rather important in the walking process. Due to the weakness of my connective tissue my joints are also very unstable. Especially my left hip which tends to move around in the socket. Walking aids help take some of the weight off my leg and hips which help to decrease pain. They also increase stability and reduce the likelihood of my hip ball moving where it shouldn't or me falling.

So the answer is yes, I can walk. Some days are better than others. Some days I need help. That's okay. Not all walking is created equal. I am thankful for the mobility I do have. I know I am blessed to be able to do everything I can. Using a cane or crutches is just a small part of my life and what makes me who I am. It is not the end all be all.


  1. I like to think of my cane as not only necessary to help me cope with my latest EDS injury, but it also helps me when I am feeling well by making me more stable so I don't get another injury caused by a minor miss step. So it is prophylactic as well as therapeutic.

    1. Yes, you're very right. On my good days I just use the cane. I've noticed though when I feel like I can do it and go without anything I normally end up pushing myself too hard and paying for it later.