Edit - Pictures here: i.imgur.com/kOnKT.jpg
Having heard how Litty found using the poles and chatted with her about using them, I decided to see if I could find some that might be suitable for me.
I went to 'Go Outdoors' as our neighbour had lent me his discount card and there found a helpful young assistant who showed me their stock and helped me tounderstand the differences between the different models and, most importantly, once I had chosen the pair I wanted, marked the correct height settings on them with felt pen. This made me feel much more confident about starting with them.
I was a bit anxious about using poles in public so the next day I drove about 6 or 7 minutes to a local hotel in its own grounds and parked there.
I set them up - mine come in 3 sections which have 2sections that you unscrew to loosen and set at the height you want and then screw up again and click back to set them and make them be slightly springy -i found that this does not require much strength at all to do.
I managed to set my poles up at the marked height and having had a little bit of practice in the back garden the day before, I set off slowly up a slight gradient ( this would normally be a problem for me as I stagger about normally) and was delighted to find that I could flick the poles slightly ahead of me and'walk onto' them and- much to my surprise- get my posture better by standing more upright and able to look ahead.....
I was so pleased about this - it made me realise that this had real possibilities for me and that I had been lucky to find poles that seemed to be right for me.
They are called Hi Tech Striders and have cork handles and good loops which also can be adjusted. I was worried about tripping over them but this hasn't been the case - but I think I have developed a kind of chinese chopsticks style to use them - and I found myself saying to them "Right, you can have my ataxia for a while and see if you like it!" and that did me good!
The best thing I did to help me with them was to add a strip of 10cm wide fluffy Velcro to the top of the left hand one and cut a tiny hole in this to take a camera screw ( alot of the expensive poles have this on them) and on the other pole put the rough Velcro as a strip round the edge so that when I stop I can lean them onto each other and they don't fall about!
I was delighted to finally find something that worked for me.I still haven't walked down our road yet with them but I have been to a walking for health group on my own-and introduced myself to them with my poles which was a BIG step for me.....
I now have a rucksack weighted with water bottles to help with the posture ( and make me feel the part) and new trail shoes to help me balance better and they together have made a real difference to the business of getting about outside and getting some exercise and fresh air.
Let me know how you get on if you decide to try poles yourself!