I’ve been in a lot of pain lately. Technically, I’ve been in pain since around 2003–for about FIFTEEN YEARS. Apparently, I have degenerative bone issues from Ankylosing Spondilitis (which I realize sounds like a made up name), meaning my spinal disks are too thin and the vertebrae scratch together….which makes me go from “mildly uncomfortable” most of the time to “EXCRUCIATINGLY painful” at other times, and sometimes so bad I’m even unable to walk.
Which sucks. Boo-hoo-hoo.
A few years back during my very worst episode (where I couldn’t even get out of a chair or walk without crying in pain), I broke down and bought a cane for when I might need help walking, to take the strain off my spine. I just went to the drugstore, and bought the least ugly one they had, in plain black. But it was therapeutic-looking and hideous, and made me feel like a frail old failure.
Recently, I posted about it online, telling about how I had to carry it when taking our daughter Myla to school, and it freaked out some of the kids, wondering if I had gotten hurt or something. I asked if there was any way a CANE can be “cool.” And apparently there is! People told me about some cool ones you can find online either on Etsy or Amazon…and some people even suggested I make my own. ..WHAT?!?!
When I found out that some people use resin to make decorative cane handles for cosplay and fun (and sometimes for real use), I thought, “Hey, maybe I CAN do one myself!” So I’ll show you what I did…
I started with a base of aluminum foil. I was thinking I’d make some sort of hideous monster, like I depict my pain. I surrounded the foil with 2-part apoxie sculpt–it’s a sort of clay you mix together from 2 parts, and it dries to a rock-hard strength within 2 hours. You have to use gloves because of the chemicals (which are a little tricky to work with), and you can use water to soften it up.
After wrapping the foil ball in apoxie clay (I left a hole in the bottom to fit on top of the cane), I did my best to sculpt with some metal tools and marble eyes…what came out wasn’t a monster, though–it looked more like a boston terrier Fu dog–a protector of sorts. And I was totally okay with that.
I needed it to be rounded to be able to hold on to it, so I made its ears fall back a bit, and added decorative designs on its face, sides, and forehead.
Once it dried (about 6 hours later because I was impatient–24 hours is best), I painted it in solid black so I could add this metallic rub on top of it for a metallic glow.
Later, I asked my super skilled husband to saw off the curved handle of my hideous cane. Thankfully, it was adjustable at the bottom, so cutting off the top still allowed for me to lengthen it to my needed height. Using E6000 clear glue, I pushed the dog-head onto the sawed-off cane and let it dry.
And it turned out pretty cool! (…Well, as “cool” as a cane can be…)
I still thought it needed some sort of transition, so I wrapped metallic tape around the neck, painted it black, and did the metallic rub again. Finally, I sprayed it all with clear varnish to keep it fairly smooth, and keep it from getting scratched.
It’s worked out well so far! I haven’t scared any children at Myla’s school–they actually love looking at it now, as weird as it is.
And while I wouldn’t exactly call it “cool” (maybe “less-than-lame”), it feels MUCH less embarrassing to carry around.
Living with constant pain is terrible. You don’t want to talk about it for fear people will pity you. You feel like a failure, like you can’t do the things you used to do. I was in the Army. I used to play roller derby. I used to feel strong. Now, I have to carefully take each step so I don’t cringe from imbalance. It’s depressing and discouraging. You feel like a less-than-human being for your family. You get well-intended input from people, asking if you’ve tried certain medicines or books, yoga or acupuncture, tens machines or infusions, Injections or pot. And I really don’t mind so much–there’s not much info on AS, and anything I’ve learned, I often learned from other people, so I always appreciate and am grateful for the effort.
Still, I’ve tried every legal thing I can try, with no luck. So if I have to carry a cane sometimes, the least I can do is make it a less-than-lame cane. And if you ever need to make a cane for yourself, or for a costume or cosplay, give it a try!