Okay. After a stream of cranky blog posts, I had decided to ramble on about something totally practical and a bit fanciful. Having become a (very probably) long term mobility aid user, I have also become a little bit obsessed with walking sticks. Because of the nature of my disability (or so a kind physical therapist told me) and my lifestyle, the Canadian designed forearm crutch has proved the best match for my particular mobility issues. Since forearm crutches are not the most commonly prescribed mobility aids in the United States (although inversely, in Europe and Russia, they ARE the most commonly prescribed aids for acute and long term mobility problems), I thought I would post a picture of what the average, run-of-the-mill, PT or doctor issued forearm crutch looks like:
My own stick looks a lot like this stock photo. Sturdy. Functional. Trustworthy. But definitely dull as dishwater. (Although the Tornado Tip does give mine a bit of extra edge…)
I am not ashamed to say it. I have a real love of classic fashion and high quality, eye catching clothes. And accessories. Especially handbags. Soooooo…One of the first things I did in my post-aid life was scour the web for sleek and fashionable forearm crutches. I was totally excited to stumble upon Che Koala’s Stix sidebar and to read her witty and informative posts about cool crutch options and their pitfalls. If you are a forearm crutch user I highly recommend hopping over to her Oz based site pronto. It will not disappoint.
I wished from the very moment I was issued my aid that it were black instead of grey. Because as we all well know, black goes with EVERYTHING and black is ALWAYS chic. It would have been easy enough, with the help of the Internet, to locate, purchase, and implement a single black forearm crutch. But. As I have Ehlers-Danlos, the particular crutch I was prescribed by my PT has a feature–an anatomical hand grip rather than the standard cylindrical hand grip–which for me is absolutely necessary; it takes some of the pressure off of my wrist and finger joints, which due to their lack of functional collagen, are super prone to hyperextension, carpal tunnel, and osteoarthritis. It turns out that finding a single black forearm crutch with an anatomical hand grip is a bit more difficult than finding a single black forearm crutch with a standard hand grip. Further, residing as I do in cities with extremely cold winters, I have come to appreciate my crutch’s vinyl coated, flexible steel arm cuff (see stock photo). It can expand to accommodate my sleeping bag, er, down coat, and can be shaped down so that it fits comfortably over a sweater, thin shirt, or bare arm. I’ve been quite disappointed to see that most, if not all, of the single black forearm crutches with anatomical handles on the market have plastic, non-adjustable arm cuffs. So this limits my options even further.
But. I have also discovered that there are a few very special (re: luxury) forearm crutch models on the market that would probably meet all my requirements. Since these models are for the moment quite out of reach, all I can do is drool over them. But a little drooling never hurt anyone, so without further ado, I shall post them and discuss their merits. First we have the Thomas Fetterman Titanium LiteStix:
(Yes. It is true. It is not entirely black, but the silver shaft is SOOOO shiny and sleek it makes up for not being black. Plus it beats my gun-metal grey model ten to one.)
Fetterman is himself a forearm crutch user, and he custom makes each crutch from a single titanium rod according to requirements of the individual customer. Note the anatomical hand grip and Tornado Tip (also a Fetterman invention) that Fetterman affixes to each and every crutch (As a long-term crutch user, he understands well the risks of carpal tunnel and other joint related crutch pitfalls. I actually think it’s fair to say that Ehlers-Danlos or no, the anatomical grip and Tornado Tip are best all for long term crutchers. Too bad more mobility aid manufacturers haven’t caught on to this…) Also, the flexible cuff is padded and sheathed in leather. These are DEFINITELY the Bentleys of forearm crutches…
Fetterman also distributes these gorgeous wooden models, which are crafted by the carver Ed Openshaw:
This model is also not entirely black, but folks it is ROSEWOOD. Um. Adequate compromise, if I do say so myself. If the LiteStix are Bentleys, then the Openshaw model can only aptly be described as an Aston Martin…
But. There is a (slightly) more affordable custom crutch option out there, and these are manufactured by the Canadian company SideStix:
SideStix boast a lot of the same features as the Fetterman models, although as you can see, they are not crafted from a single tube. I also really like that SideStix is committed to designing products that enable their users to do everything they want, like for example, scamper up a snow covered mountain or hike across a pebbly stream. This is probably the model I’ll go with if A.) I ever have the disposable means B.) I am in the United States long enough to have one made and shipped to me.
In the meantime…I’ve got my own sturdy (albeit boring) sidekick with its trusty Tornado Tip. And I must say I was pleased to discover, on the Russian internet that forearm crutches are A.) Much cheaper in the Russian Federation B.) Available in greater variety. I am seriously considering snapping up one of these German-made ‘kanadki’ (as they are called in Russian) during my Moscow stint. Or who knows, maybe I’ll even find something better…