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I'm partially sighted, but feel embarrassed and self-concscious about using my symbol cane

Gill_SK Community member Posts: 2 Listener
edited January 2022 in Sensory impairments
I have been registered partially sighted almost three years. I have Stargardts, glaucoma and thickening corneas.  In recent months I have noticed myself that my sight is getting worse, I have a lot of blank patches where I just can’t see, it’s so hard to explain.
i have had a symbol cane hidden away for almost three years.  A coucellor suggested I start using it.  I am so embarrassed and self conscious about it.  I think people I know will think ‘why has she got that? She’s ok without it”.  I can see without it but I do bump into things and people, trip up and walk in front of people totally oblivious.  Most people don’t say anything but after a horrible incident in a supermarket I am considering using my can so people know there something wrong and I’m not just drunk, rude or ignorant.
Any advice would be lovely.


  • chiarieds
    chiarieds Community member Posts: 16,143 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @Gill_SK - & welcome to the community. Thank you for joining & saying about yourself. I think you will find this recent thread about using a cane helpful & informative. Please see:

  • janer1967
    janer1967 Community member Posts: 21,964 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi and welcome to the community 

    I am in the same situation blind in one eye and partially sighted in other also in a wheelchair so not as easy to juggle cane and chair 

    However I'm getting to stage I need to use it like you more as a signal cane to make others aware as I keep going into things 

    I've stopped going anywhere alone now used to go just local where it was familiar but can't do this now 

    Good luck get using your cane not embarrassing at all and you may find 0eople more helpful 
  • Alex_Alumni
    Alex_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,562 Disability Gamechanger
    Welcome to the community @Gill_SK

    Thanks for reaching out and sharing your experience, as our members have mentioned, you've every right to use your cane, and while it can take some time to become accustomed to this, it can be a really positive boost to your independence and quality of life.

    I hope you've been able to have a look at the thread on overcoming feelings of self consciousness that chairieds shared. It shows that you are certainly not alone in your feelings, and I hope it's able to reassure you that it's okay to feel anxious. This is a big change, which can be a lot to cope with.

    In my own experience, as someone with cerebral palsy, when I do use a cane I find it very useful in signposting to anyone around me that I might need support, a seat, or help with stairs- whereas that might not be clear without it.

    If you ever feel like you need support, or have any questions to ask, you know where we are :)

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  • Sammac
    Sammac Community member Posts: 11 Listener
    Hi. My advice would be to do what you need to do, without worrying what other people think. As the saying goes, the people who matter won't mind and those that mind don't matter.
  • Tori_Scope
    Tori_Scope Scope Posts: 12,506 Disability Gamechanger
    edited January 2022
    That's great @Gill_SK :) I'm glad that you managed to do some shopping,  and that people generally reacted well. You should definitely feel proud of yourself! 

    Maybe you could make a little list of places you'd like to go and use your cane at? This could help you to increase your confidence in using it, or in visiting other places where you might have had a negative experience in the past. 

    Just to let you know, I've moved your post into our category for discussions relating to sensory impairments, and renamed it so that other members can find it more easily.
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  • john920
    john920 Community member Posts: 24 Connected
    I can relate,  I registered sight impaired last year and have a symbol cane. I'm really self conscious about using, spends most of the time in my bag, I'm embarrassed using it which makes things harder for me especially in shops and where there is lots of people,  I too bump into people and things. Difficult thing to accept. Hope you find a way through it
  • john920
    john920 Community member Posts: 24 Connected
    Hi @john920 It would make it a little easier for you if you used your cane especially in shops. It would allow other shoppers to give you a bit more space. Build up your courage and go for it. Take care.
    Hi, yeah I agree it would make my life easier and after 14 months I'm kinda worn out fighting it. It's odd, I wouldn't think anything of anyone else using one but i do when it comes to myself, my sight loss was very rapid so its do with identifying myself as sight impaired,  that's the issue
  • Sandy_123
    Sandy_123 Scope Member Posts: 54,418 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @john920 welcome,  I think once you've used it a few times, if Won't  feel so awkward. If I see some1 with a white cane I would give them more space to make it easier.
  • Jules_H
    Jules_H Scope Member Posts: 61 Courageous
    Hi Gill_SK,
    Like you, I felt the exact same way. While I have distorted vision with blank spots in my left eye (so fully understand about those "blank areas/spots), I can only see long distance with my right eye, which really doesn't help when smaller items are in front of me as I often walk straight into them. I've had my fair share of embarrassing mishaps in shops.
    One incident a few days before christmas changed my view on my symbol cane though.... while everyone else was binge buying for the holiday season, I was trying to do my normal shop, but wearing a face mask over glasses and light blocking glasses, if the right side steams up or I take my glasses off to change to the other pair, I can't see anything. I walked into the supermarket, the right side immediately steamed up and before I could do anything, I walked straight into the high stack of tinned sweets they'd put right in the entrance. 

    Being self conscious about using my symbol cane, I'd had it folded up in my bag, but the day my right side completely steamed up, and kept steaming up (regardless of the "no steam" wipes) gave me an insight into what it will be like when my right eye stops responding to the injections. That fear was much greater than my self conscious feeling with the cane. I felt utterly useless, and I will admit it did scare the beejeezus out of me. I didn't know whether to just stand there and shout "help", attempt to sort my glasses out without falling over the stack I'd knocked flying.. it honestly scared me.
    While there are still times I keep my cane folded, it's always in my hand, and while chances are I 'an navigate areas I know from memory, that day proved extremely useful to have, regardless of my embarrassment.

    Also, at the end of that incident, this specific supermarket employs a security guard who is a permanent wheelchair user.. he whispered something to me I'll never forget - "you're not responsible for your sight loss, so never be ashamed of it or who you are.  If people can't accept this part of you, then that's their problem not yours. And bashing into things is a learning curve", with that, he winked at me like he understood about how difficult it can be to adapt too the aids we have to rely on.

    My heart and empathy goes out to you as I'm experiencing the same thing, you're not alone ❤️
  • SueHeath
    SueHeath Community member Posts: 12,420 Disability Gamechanger
    You know i'm really glad i read this thread - i have been told to start using a walking stick when i go out into the world. But as yet i havn't because of the same type of feelings. So what do i do at the moment i only go out if i'm with my husband and use him as support and i feel this is having an affect on my confidence - so i will try it x
  • john920
    john920 Community member Posts: 24 Connected
    I've only really started using my symbol cane recently , it's took me about a year  to finally using it regularly,  it has certainly made my life easier in shops etc
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