I have a confession to make. I kind of have a fetish for canes. I can't help it, I have some weird genetic trait that forces me to start collecting things that pique my interest. This compulsion to collect has led me to possess way too many antique wristwatches, vintage New York travel books, old cameras, memorabilia from the 1964 world's fair, antique New York City postcards, aged tie clips, and a whole bunch of other stuff. Before I got sick, I had more pairs of shoes than my wife, and she's no slouch in the shoe department.
As my disability has progressed, I've been faced with having to accept the need for an ever evolving series assistive devices, most of which I resisted for as long as possible. With dogged determination, I insisted on struggling until I was way beyond the point where the use of an assistive device was a choice. I waited until they became absolute necessities.
In retrospect, I realize how asinine this stubbornness was, although I also realize it's only natural to harbor the mistaken notion that you’re "giving in" to the disease by using a brace, cane, or wheelchair. I suppose it's a form of denial. Despite a gait that made Quasimodo look like Fred Astaire, as long as I didn't need any "assistance", I must not be doing that badly. The result of this foolishness was that I often wound up frustrated and angry, and made things more difficult on myself, which in turn only made me feel worse about my condition. Once I grudgingly accepted the need for some assistance, life started to become easier. The best example of this is that I just about became a shut in before I agreed to get a power wheelchair, the device that once again opened up the world to me and led me to discover my inner "Wheelchair Kamikaze", and to start this blog.
One of the tools I steadfastly resisted using for way too long was a cane. At some point in my MS journey, I'd been given a standard medical supply store cane, a hideous and bulky contraption of gray metal tubing and ugly rubber appendages. I tried it once in my apartment, took a gander of myself in the mirror, and then relegated it to its permanent home in the back of the hall closet. No way was I going to be seen in public using an apparatus as hideous as that. I'd stick to limiting my mobility to a range of about 50 feet rather than suffer the indignity of using such a beastly piece of equipment.
Soon enough, though, it became clear that I absolutely needed a cane, when I couldn't even make it around my apartment unassisted. I figured if I had to have a cane, I might as well have one that I liked, so I started searching the Internet for acceptable candidates that I wouldn't be embarrassed to be seen with. I soon found there are quite a few Internet cane stores, offering a wide variety of styles. Who knew?
After agonizing over the choice, I placed an order with one of these Internet cane emporiums. It was a nice enough dark wood stick, and I did find that I wasn't mortified to be seen using it, but the "collector" spark in me had been lit. I started searching high and low across the Internet for the most interesting canes I could find.
During a search of eBay, I came across the products of a man named Jerry, who imports beautiful canes made of exotic woods from Costa Rica. The canes come in a wide variety of styles, and many have handles that are hand carved into the shapes of all kinds of beasts and other figurines. Not only were the canes striking, but they were cheaper than the much plainer items sold in other places on the Internet.
I ordered my first cane from Jerry (who is eBay name is costaricatreasurehouse) with low expectations, figuring that for the price the cane must be of shoddy construction, or have some other fatal flaws. When it arrived, I was happy to find that it was of extremely high quality, and was actually quite artful. I've since ordered several more canes from Jerry, my favorite being one with a handle in the shape of a cobra, complete with fangs and forked tongue. It's a real attention grabber, and people comment on it constantly. Little boys especially seem fascinated by it.
I recently wrote Jerry a note telling him of my Wheelchair Kamikaze blog, and he agreed to offer a 10% discount to anybody who buys one of his canes from eBay (click here to go to his eBay store) and mentions "Wheelchair Kamikaze" in their correspondence with him. The offer is good on all of the canes he sells, except for ones that are already discounted. I'm really hoping this arrangement works out, because it seems to be a classic "win-win", in that it will generate more business for Jerry, and mobility challenged readers of this site will get a discount on some of the nicest canes I've come across.
Here's just a small sample of some of the canes Costa Rica Treasure House offers...