Cane walking (part one)

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In an attempt to accelerate the recovery of my achilles tendon injury, I underwent two Shockwave treatments; one in November and one in January. After each of those treatments, I was not allowed to walk for two days. For the 12 days after that, I was advised to “walk as little as possible, and as slowly as possible”. Knowing myself, I knew I had to find an external tool to keep myself from disregarding all pain and barge up and down the large Jan Schaefferbridge at the end of my street, to then do an aerobics video in my living room. File under: how I acquired this particular injury.

Inspired by a Hannah Witton video, I decided to buy a foldable walking stick that fit inside my purse. On a side note: there must be a difference between a cane and a walking stick, but I haven’t been able to figure it out and will therefore use both words when referring to the same thing. Anyway, this walking stick would both be supporting me and making sure I couldn’t walk faster than I should, but it would also signal to the outside world “I have difficulty walking, please don’t rush me”. Because The Netherlands in general and Amsterdam in particular is a stressed out mess.

Having lived here for the majority of my life, I am well aware of this fact, but I must say that every time I (due to illness or injury) am not able to keep up with the pace, it’s a shock. Amsterdam’s public space in particular is completely unsuited for anyone who has even a small mobility issue, let alone a large one. There’s bikes everywhere, curbs are often ridiculously high, elevators and escalators are regularly either broken or blocked by (you guessed it!) bikes, the traffic situation is often completely unclear. On top of that, most if not all Amsterdam pavements are wonky and far from smooth. I have been told that this is due to ground water level shifts and not because we are bad at laying pavements.

What also doesn’t help, are the almost constant renovations and works in various areas of the city. And of course the fact that after all this, a huge amount of tourists and a huge amount of people actually living here who are trying to get to work are thrown into the mix.

The resulting situation can only be described as “a complete mess”. Amsterdam has clearly become a city for young, healthy people, and I’m quite sure that I don’t have to explain to you why this is Not Ok.

1 Response
  • Samantha
    May 14, 2019

    I have to admit that, as a mobile, healthy person, Amsterdam in particular didn’t cross my mind to be so unfriendly towards the elderly and people who are less mobile. But, now that I think about it, I can definitely see how canes, wheelchairs, scoot mobiles, and walkers are a hassle in the hectic mess that is Amsterdam. That’s quite a tragedy.

    Unfortunately, Amsterdam is not the exception. My work in another town has a hightened entrance, making the shop difficult to enter for the impaired. The city, the only one who can change the entrance, doesn’t care. Head office insists we stuff the shop to the brim with stuff, making it difficult for people in wheelchairs and scoot mobiles to navigate.

    My village seems to be doing much better for the accessability of shops and doctor/pharmacy at least. The only hassle is public transport because most trains require ascending a few steps to enter the wagon. I don’t think you could take the bus; you’d have to order a service. So yeah, leaving my village would be a real problem…
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