[Tripping On…] Two Main Canes

Depending on how long my spine takes to heal fully, I may acquire more canes, but having these two solid canes has been a game-changer. I received the one to the right with the u-curved handle at the hospital, from their physical therapist’s department, as covered by my insurance. The other, to the left, I bought at a drugstore after I noticed it was difficult to lift myself up. Two canes make walking faster, too.

I don’t think I’ll invest in a walker or crutches.

Having two canes, effectively making me a quadruped, helped especially on the first few days after my surgery to make sure that after I took a step that the next didn’t feel so insecure. I guess the main disadvantage for hospitals and physical therapists in recommending a quadruped configuration is that they’d prefer the patient walking on their own, but I’m not your doctor, I’m just some dude that ran into health problems and had the gumption to write about it at length. For me, using two canes has been helpful since I don’t have to worry about taking that next step, whereas for them, they may want you to worry so that you can eventually become confident.

Besides, I didn’t get much formal guidance from the hospital.

I had to figure out much of the healthcare stuff on my own. The same might be true for you. I didn’t realize how much drainage would drip from my spine surgery wound, for example, and it took over a week for my body to stop hurting constantly. It might have been nice to know some of those details, but I’m learning them now, and maybe others out there can learn from these experiences. So when I say that two canes works for me, that’s based on my specific situation, where after getting spine surgery, it took me over 30 minutes to stand from my toilet on the first day, and slowly, that number decreased, especially after I got a raised toilet seat. After my spine heals completely, I may still use the raised toilet seat, since I’ve gotten used to sitting on it and it’s nice having a higher center of gravity when using the toilet.

These are adaptability lifestyle changes that one only learns after surgery.

I complained to my spine doctor’s office and received some of the pre-surgery paperwork a few days after my surgery, so at least I eventually got the sort of information that would have been helpful, but I imagine that more people will be needing spine surgery younger than ever thanks to our sedentary lifestyles in front of computers with configurations that aren’t ergonomically fair on our bodies. I wasn’t terribly abusive to my body, never rowed to excess, and still, just through years of sub-optimal ergonomics at home, over six months of working with improperly configured ergonomics at work, then working from home with no proper ergonomic equipment due to COVID, I found myself where I am today.

Maybe my writings can help others through their surgery processes?

If so, and if you get one cane, see how a second cane feels. I may use the second cane that I bought using my own money more often because it folds up, so I could bring it anywhere, but I’ll keep using the first cane. I marked my specific height with tape, so I can get other canes close to that height – the top of the cane should rest at the wrist. It’s been 11 days since my surgery, 2 days since I last needed to regularly take painkillers, so it’s not like I’m fully healed yet, so it’s hard to say how long I will need two canes, but I know it’s been helpful having two objects to help prop me upright. It would be nicer, still, if for the first few days I didn’t have to move using my own body weight, and just let my body heal, but that’s not so much of an option for me.

I could have taken the portable urinal with me, but I left it.

Those can be fairly pricey outside the hospital, but for me, I don’t feel comfortable urinating outside of a restroom. If I did, then I could have probably spent most of my first day back home from the hospital in bed, but I’d rather write about how I’m feeling and what I’m experiencing. I’m at the point now where my wound seems to be healing up nicely. The light-red, pinkish, non-blood drainage is still gushing out at a fairly moderate pace, but it’s decreasing overall. If I would have known I could have just put many paper towels between my wound and my clothes, to prevent leakage, that could have been better peace of mind, but much of this was me figuring out what works well for me.

Maybe that won’t work for you, or maybe you wouldn’t need to worry about it?

I live alone, so I had to have a family member stop by daily to remove the old wound dressings, help me clean it, then redress the wound. If you live with others, you’ll need to rely on them to do that more often, but they can check on things more often. I’ve had to rely on taking wound photos so I can see how things are healing. That’s where most of this information is probably going to be subjective, but still, it would have been nice to have had some of this subjective information so I might have thought about buying a second cane, a raised toilet seat, and putting more paper towels between my wound and my clothes earlier on. Not much can be changed for me. Hopefully, I won’t need to worry about any additional surgeries. While necessary for me to return back to my former physicality, even at its best, it wasn’t as enjoyable as, say, avoiding surgery entirely.

Still, I’d rather have had the surgery than deal with my worsening spinal condition.

Quotes: None.
Sources: My personal experiences.
Inspirations: I took the photo to capture this moment in time and then wanted to write about this moment in time for the same reason: I might not need these canes by the time this essay publishes.
Related: Sober Living essays and Tripping On [The American Healthcare System] chapters.
Photo: This second cane replaced the one I wrote about in “Take Only Memories,” which wasn’t suitable for daily use, but was helpful during the first few days.
Written On: 2020 September 11 [6:09am to 6:37am]
Last Edited: 2020 September 11 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]
My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.