Friday, January 17, 2014

Optimistic eyes

I've missed a couple of days... partly because I have stuck to my painkillers + energy drinks (+ sheer stubbornness) = ability to do things and go places; and partly because 2 days of that meant I slept all day yesterday.

Today was a beautiful day - the kind of winter's day I really love here: cold, but with a bright blue sky and the sun shining.  Mum and I went out a walk.  Or, as she calls it, at my pace, a stroll (definitely more accurate).  It's the first time I've been out a walk for several months and we did walk slowly, but an estimated ~2 miles in total.  A two mile stroll is a major achievement for me - and focusing on the little achievements (anything that makes us smile!) is important, when life becomes 'step-by-step' or 'day-by-day'.

It wasn't an easy walk for me - and it really was at snail's pace, with some rests and pauses - but the fresh air felt really good.  We did a circuit around our neighbourhood, and then continued and did another one across the main road, and back home.  It's amazing how natural it is for our bodies to adapt in ways we don't even think about.... until we can't do it - only then do we realise how much of an effort we make, entirely unconsciously, walking up and down little slopes or hills.  I know walking uphill (I'm talking a slight incline here - nothing major) is hard, and I know it requires rests because it makes breathing more painful and my 'stuck' rib cage attempts to expand further so my lung can expand, and it can't.  I know to stop, take some breaths (sometimes hunched over) and then I can go on - but it is much more reassuring to walk with someone beside me, just in case.  I hate saying that, but unfortunately, right now, it's very true. (Even more unfortunately, also justified.)

However, today I learned that going down a steep hill is harder than going up one! (Even a tiny, short one, it's the incline that tortures!)  It came to one of those points where my brain knew what to do, and my body didn't.  If these didn't hurt so much, they would be almost funny... describing them is quite difficult.  I've tried to explain it by suggesting to someone: imagine doing a somersault (I was speaking to someone who couldn't somersault) -  you know the motion, the movement and the shape, but you can't just do a somersault.  A better example would actually be to imagine what it feels like to do a somersault underwater (everyone's done that, right?  Is it only me who thinks that's incredibly normal...?) - you can't hurt yourself underwater, it's fun, easy, and anyone can try it - but you can't just transfer that to a gym (or a park) even if you know what it feels like.  It's not the best example, but it's the closest I've come to feeling like the person I'm talking to might, possibly, be able to imagine what I mean...  Except that I'm talking about something really simple - walking down a hill - which shouldn't really be comparable to a learned skill like a somersault.  But it is.  As strange as it sounds - and it felt stranger! - my body didn't know how to walk down a hill.

Everyone knows when you have an injury, often another part of your body compensates for a while until the injury heals.  Quite often, we're not really aware of it until the other part of the body that's doing more work begins to niggle too.  This was like that, except I was slapped in the face with it - my body's 'compensation attempts' failed miserably.  To go down a hill, we naturally lean backwards to distribute our weight and walk without losing balance.  My muscles don't have the strength to do that (plus it hurts so much that they start to spasm - it's not a case of just sucking it up and dealing with an achy muscle type of pain; it's more of a black-sparkles-dizzy-nauseating-blackness inducing pain).  My brain seemed to be trying all sorts of ways - my right foot on tiptoe (didn't work); twisting my hips (didn't work); various ways of limping (I really never knew there were so many) - I actually stopped and had to think: how can I do this?  Ridiculous! It wasn't a big hill, we were nearly home, so I let the weird twisty-tip-toed-limping movement take over and got to the bottom of the slope as the black sparkling darkness really was descending.  After refusing to take my Mum's arm for the hill, I clutched at her for the last minute until we got across the road and to the front door and I could lie flat on my back on the sofa.

I'm counting that as a win......

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