Sunday, February 10, 2008

Mobility Training : What to do if your knob gets stuck in a drain.

Unfortunately, I missed this particular lesson, so was at a bit of a loss as to what to do when the tip of my long cane got well and truly jammed in the grill of a drain, while out for a walk not so long ago. It would probably have taught me not to do what I did, which was pull on my cane too hard so that the tip came off, something my mother had always warned me about.

A long cane is a poor substitute for a guide dog, but a long cane without a tip is, well, pointless. Whereas a dog anticipates obstacles and danger, taking you around them so that, most of the time, you are blissfully unaware of them, with a cane you basically clatter into things and have to work out a way around them. Or, on occasions, you miss the obstacle with the cane and find it instead with your shin. Nor is the cane much use at detecting anything above waist height, such as overhanging branches.

Anyway, despite its limitations I’ve grown very reliant on it in the absence of a dog, so had to set about finding a replacement tip. And what an array there is to choose from – pencil tip, marshmallow tip, Canadian rollertip – I wasn’t sure if I’d accidentally logged onto Boots the Chemist’s website instead of RNIB.

In the meantime, I had to find a new cane quickly. I’d tried using the old one without the tip, but steel on concrete doesn’t feel good, and I was worried that, walking down the street, I was going to create sparks and set someone’s trousers on fire. Fortunately, my local guide dog centre had a spare cane for me to borrow. I say borrow, although they never got it back as within a couple of hours of me getting it, I had tripped on a kerb. To describe the fall as ungainly would be kind. The words ‘sack’ and ‘potatoes’ spring to mind, and I managed to break my fall with my new cane, which was now two new canes. I managed to bravely hobble back to work, where colleagues dished out sweet tea and sympathy.

I do think that the cane manufacturers could be a little more creative with their designs for cane tips. For example, why not the “TasarTip” for temporarily stunning annoying people who get in your way. It would have to be a low voltage as old ladies would be the main targets, for me anyway. And how about the “TrimmerTip” fitted with a small circular saw that could remove hedges and branches with one easy swipe. Of course, the multiple-tip user would have to be careful not to get confused as this could get messy.

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