Sunday, November 16, 2014

Walking around in style with my Top & Derby walking stick

Who says assistive devices have to be drab, ugly, and without color? Not me. And two award winning companies agree: meet Omhu and Top and Derby who infuse the mobility sector with color, design, and cool looking walking sticks. I jotted up a post a while ago about Omhu. They bring us totally rad canes, made from natural wood and high-strength bicycle-grade aluminum materials, in six gorgeous colors. Our friends over at Top and Derby make a great cane, too, and I think you’ll agree that this is a really nice departure from the usual cold and clinical ones.

Check it out.

Top and Derby feel like “…no one should be walking around with a gnarly looking cane…” and, thus, the entrepreneur, innovator, and designer collaboration of Matthew Kroeker, Gerrit de Vries, and Ben Grynol created their debut, the Chatfield cane. It’s both gorgeous and extremely functional.

The design and materials of Top and Derby’s cane are pretty amazing

To start with, the Chatfield has a distinct and intuitive handle, beautiful solid walnut shaft, and sneaker inspired tip (or, as they like to call it, shoe, since it’s a bit like a sneaker sole). Top and Derby do not skimp on quality either. The Chatfield handle is aluminum coated with silicon so your hand doesn’t slip while gripping and it totally absorbs vibrations while you walk. The solid walnut shaft is coated with a durable satin finish, and the shoe? It’s made of a durable thermoplastic rubber material. To top it off, it comes in three colors, all perfectly complimentary to the walnut and you’ll love their descriptions: Lights-out Black, Crybaby Blue, and On-the-vine Red.

"The Chatfield" arrives - thanks Top and Derby!
(c) cgermans photography 2014

I just bought a Chatfield cane and chose On-the-vine Red. It’s pretty sweet. I ventured out with it for the first time during a recent excursion around the coastal, walled city of Dubrovnik and the gorgeous island of Split, Croatia. What fun I had walking around as a wide-eyed tourist with a bit more support. Minus the lady who kicked the cane out from under me while we crowded outside at the airport terminal. Ha, ha! I’ve since forgiven her.

Yet, for me, using a cane is a vulnerable move

Buying the Chatfield was fun and easy (see aforementioned design shout outs and easy-to-use shopping site linked below) yet mustering up the courage to actually walk around with a cane is an entirely different story. It’s extremely personal. For me, using a cane releases some of the denial that’s been buried deep down for a while. The last time I used a cane was during a trip to Portland three years ago. I’ve since rested said cane against the wall and left it there. I haven’t wanted to admit that I need help. You know this denial I speak of, right? When you gasp, “oh crap, I cannot walk long distances without difficulty and really do realize that a cane will help and improve my life but I cannot muster up the courage to walk around town with a cane because what will people think and what if I see someone I know and then I’m exposed and then what?” the realization becomes all so real. I thought I was better than this.

The chances of seeing someone I knew while visiting Croatia, however, were pretty slim so I felt it was a good testing ground for me to try out the Chatfield. It was great! Super sturdy, very comfortable, and easy to use. With my Top and Derby cane in hand, I be-bopped along the stoned streets of Split, where Roman emperor Diocletian retired, walked the city walls of Dubrovnik while trying to catch glimpses of Game of Thrones filming (we saw Tommen!), and climbed seemingly thousands of steps as Dubrovnik is a very hilly town indeed. The Chatfield was my friend during these walks and gave me the support I needed.

Me and my Top and Derby "The Chatfield" while on holiday in Croatia
(c) cgermans photography 2014

Practice to progress

Using a cane is not a natural move for me, however, as I have the tendency to walk very quickly and without much focus. It took a bit of time getting used to but after walking more deliberately and slowing things down a bit, I grew to like the cane as it gave me the relief I needed. I felt empowered and so much happier because I was actually reserving energy by making it easier to walk. Except for those brief occasions when I accidentally kicked the cane in the same way as that lady at the airport. Gotta watch out for that. With less weight on my bad leg, I found I could walk more easily and more happily yet with cane in tow, I had to juggle other things like my camera bag, ice cream cones, and shopping bags and so I found it frustrating to only have one free hand. I did get somewhat used to it, though, and especially enjoyed having it with me as we approached very large tourist groups. It’s amazing how folks hop out of the way when they see someone walking towards them with an assistive device. Outta my way everyone!

So, with that, I wrap this up with a promise. I promise to practice to progress using a cane when walking longer distances. And, while we are certainly not happy to live with disability we may as well walk around with a bit of style. Agree?  What's been your experience with adapting to an assistive device? Any cool walking sticks out there that you like and would like to share with others? We'd love to hear from you. 



Check out the Top and Derby and Omhu products here:
Top & Derby:

Tip: definitely follow their sizing charts, as you want to be sure you are properly fitted for your new cane.

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