Thursday, November 17, 2011

When "Cute" Makes a Difference

Nina has a prescription for forearm crutches. It is exciting that she has gained the balance and strength necessary to use them. The walker has been great, but Nina's gait (the way she walks) is just painful to watch. She hunches down, elbows bent, legs bent, and she drags her feet. Let me tell you, she can go fast! But the point is to get her to walk properly. Her body needs to learn how to move.

The piece of paper with her prescription is a symbol of moving forward. It is exciting!

I stopped by to order her crutches, and I realized quickly, that our options were based on shades of gray that screamed: "I am adaptive-medical equipment!"

"Can we get them in pink or purple?" I asked

No. No we can't. Insurance will only cover certain models, and "cute" is not their priority. I get that. What I don't get, is that there is no difference in cost. As a matter of fact, the crutches that were recommended to us, the ones that are "cute," the ones where we can chose a color, are more affordable that the ones that insurance would cover. But it doesn't matter, because it is what it is.

The thing is, sometimes, "cute" is significant. When Nina is in her wheelchair, people stare. A small child in a wheelchair seems so sad, yet it is equipment that allows her to be independent and go long distances. She got to choose the color, and she loves that about her wheelchair, it is her very own. We have seen lots of walkers, and Nina really notices them. She can tell you which ones she likes and which ones she doesn't like.

All the medical equipment we use is part of who Nina is. The wheelchair, the walker, and now the crutches...those are her legs! Sure people will stare, but if she likes them, if she thinks they are "cute," if she gets to pick a color, then it really doesn't matter what others think. For her, crutches are an accessory; like a bracelet, or a necklace. She wears them proudly.

We walked out without ordering gray crutches. We will call insurance and try to figure it out.

It amazes me, really, as I learn to parent Nina and navigate the world of Cerebral Palsy, how small things can make such a big difference. But we do it, and we try, because we love her. Because we want her to feel confident and secure. And yes, sometimes, the reality that she had nothing at the orphanage makes me want to give her the very best. And this time, it is colored crutches.



  1. If you really have no other option (which would surprise me), I knew a girl from Easter Seals who wrapped her crutches in colorful ribbon. She could change it out whenever she wanted to and it looked darling!

  2. Or could you spray paint them?

  3. We use "Walk Easy" and my now 14-year-old son orders Maroon every time! (His favorite team's color!) The crutches are only $125. I know that is a big "only" but sometimes, we find it just easier to fit that into our budget than to deal with insurance....also, since he started using them at 3, we have called them "Power Sticks" much better than "crutches" in my opinion. Everyone we know thinks that is their "technical" name! ha Go Nina!!

  4. I'm so proud of you, Ellen!

  5. There has to be a way around boring old gray if you come up against a brick wall and absolutely cannot get pink or purple. Spray painting, as Cindy suggested, is a neat option I didn't think of. And so is ErinL's suggestion of ribbons!

    I was thinking of reusable vinyl stickers so that they could be taken on and off as the mood strikes. If you check the scrapbooking aisles of craft stores there are usually lots of cool options.

  6. So glad I found your blog, and I can read things like this and have a new persepective about things. Hope she loves her pink crutches : )

  7. Back in the day :) I decorated Sarah Kate's boring green and tan gait trainer with a Sharpie and some letter stickers. The bar across the back said "Girl Power" and it solicited a lot of comments. She was too young at the time to really grasp "cute" but I felt like it put other people at ease to see that bit of humor.

    When she graduated to canes, we spray painted them in a color of her choosing, and of course she gets to pick what colors are used in her AFOs. Drives me a little nuts, though, that there are so few designs for older kids.

    When she started having a reaction to the foam in her AFOs, she had to start wearing knee socks all the time. We bought whatever wild, colorful, crazy socks we could find - now that's her "trademark" at school, because they wear uniforms (she wears a skirt 95% of the time) and none of the girls deviate from the standard white.

  8. Go to the Walk Easy Website. They're what I've used most recently. The PT who told me about Walk Easy said if insurance won't cover it then you can do a tax right off, since you have a prescription.


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