Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Eating Crow and Liking It, Baked In Humble Pie

Eating Crow and Liking It, Baked In Humble Pie
            I thought it wouldn’t matter. Under Arturo’s guidance I had been doing physical therapy twice weekly, for almost six months. I was walking strong and sure. When walking along the street I used my handsome walking stick, which I had purchased many years ago from a S’Klallam gentleman in Port Gamble, for balance.  

            Now comes the really stupid part of my confession. I paid lip service to Arturo in August when he told me I would need to continue my exercises, especially the ones for strength, for the rest of my life. Yes, indeedy, exercise the rest of my life, yes, sir. You betcha.

            You probably don’t know how it is. You probably don’t have a rebellious voice which lives in your head and whispers, yes, that is true for everybody else but, me. I’m different. I know my body. I’m active and I know best what is good for me.

            Then I hied off on a summer vacation to Montana and Washington and for several weeks didn’t do a single exercise. Well, I didn’t have time. Or an appropriate place. Or opportunity. I mean, really, I hate exercise, especially the routine one, two, three to twenty, three reps four times a day. You gotta be kidding. Letting my routine go was easy.

            Consequently, I began leaning into my walking stick, using it for strength. Slowly I developed and perfected a limp, drag, limp, drag, limp drag style of walking. Well, my leg hurt. Back to my casita in Mazatlan, where I had time, place and opportunity, I continued to resist that which I knew I ought and did a lot of what I ought not, feet up, book in hand. The only things missing were wine and bon-bons.

            Visiting Montana in December capped my experience. Walking on snow and ice, I held every muscle in my body tense. My limp, drag got worse. So did the pain. I needed help. My daughter’s physical therapist suggested I revert to using my walker for a short while to relearn what real walking felt like.

            Back in Mazatlan again I pulled my walker out of the shower where it had lived and provided stability since the first couple weeks after my hip surgery. So for two weeks I faithfully used my walker. In the house. No way was I going out on the street where everyone would see me. (Like that mattered.)

            Meanwhile, I eye-balled Gary’s walker. Heidi and Gary live around the corner from me. Gary has the Cadillac of all walkers, a veritable hot-dogger of a walker. Sparkly maroon, it has four wheels, brakes, a seat he can flip down when he gets tired, and a carrier for a bag.

            My walker is your basic manual model, industrial gray, four legs, corroded joints from living in my shower. Pick up and step. Pick up and step. Pick up and step. Basic.

            Every day Gary walks his Cadillac around the neighborhood for several blocks. He’s looking good, making progress. Gary has severe arthritis. My problems are post-surgical and self-generated.

            Last night I took a deep breath and walked my Model A Ford walker outdoors, up the street to my neighbors and around the corner to have dinner out with them. I lived through this “coming out” without blushing but feeling awfully stupid for hiding in the house for two weeks.

            This morning I went to the walker store, determined to buy a Cadillac. The store owner, a physical therapist, shook his finger at me, no, no, no. After a few questions he handed me a cane, explaining that with my problems the walker would make me dependent. He watched me walk back and forth across his store, took my cane back and handed me a slightly different model cane.

            I walked out of his store with a 1960’s model Buick old-woman cane. I walked straight, no limp, no drag, no pain. His parting words rang in my ears, exercise, exercise, exercise. I think I will.

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

January 21, 2105

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