Clicking Along With My Cane  This is the sound that followed me while walking through the mall last Friday. At first I didn't even notice the sound. I was using my cane which I hadn't used in a couple months.

  Let me back up and start from the beginning.

  My husband and I took a small vacation last week. We left on our adventure on Wednesday morning. It was a 4.5 hour drive. By the time we arrived at the campground, I was completely wiped out. Of course, we had to go purchase groceries for our stay, so no rest for the weary. I tried to rush through the grocery store but being in a store you're unfamiliar with can be frustrating. Why is every WalMart laid out different? They're about as confusing to navigate through them, as it is when they change their Great Value labels right after I became accustomed to the old label.

  After we finished grocery shopping and returned to our cabin, we tried relaxing. By that time I am hurting in multiple areas. Both ankles are swelling and my feet are burning. My knees, shoulder blades, and neck are extremely painful. Even my eyes feel like they're strained! My husband and I decide to go to bed early and are hopeful tomorrow will be a better day.

  Thursday morning comes with a sense of peace. We can truly enjoy the day today. At least that was our hope. 

  We decide to go look through some local antique stores. We both enjoy looking at all the antiques. It's a challenge to see who finds something that reminds them of their childhood. As I walk through the antique store, I begin to wear down. First my neck and shoulders begin aching. That deep throbbing pain, where you know if you don't lay down, you're going to be in unbearable pain soon. My ankles are tender from the swelling of the day before and feel as if the bones may break.

  I struggle to keep moving. My husband has went off in another section of the store and I don't have my cell to call him. I slowly look at items, thinking if I just stop for a moment the intensity of the pain will subside. As I fight to look normal to other customers in the store, I am reminded how much ankylosing spondylitis has changed my life. I am 46 years old and I can't walk through this store without excruciating pain. What a different life this is as compared to my childhood dreams of my adult life.

  I don't want to ask my husband to leave because of my pain, this is his vacation also. I want him to enjoy himself. He does so much for me and our kids. He deserves so much more. I battle my own body until my husband comes to find me because he is ready to leave. I try to hide my pain from my husband, I don't want him to worry.

  At the cabin, I take a hot shower and my husband rubs my ankles. After a pain pill and a muscle relaxer, I sleep soundly.

  Friday morning, we sleep in a bit and then decide to check out the local mall. When we get out of the car my husband hands me my cane. I guess I'm not as good at hiding my pain as I thought! As I walk through the mall I begin to listen to the click, click sound of my cane hitting the floor. What a blessing to be able to walk, even if it is with a wore out, old cane. I may be beat down at times by ankylosing spondylitis, but I will continue to keep clicking along. It's my new life.