Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The Balance Dance

I was going to my neighbours the other day and was only a few yards away from my door when I began my dance. It was an awkward waltz of sorts, the two steps forward, steps to the side kind of thing, only without the graceful movement usually associated with a dance.

I don’t use the cane in the house, and it was a surprise that I had stepped out leaving it at home, and how bad my balance was without that third point of grounding. I made it there and back, and coming home realized just how afraid I was of open spaces.

Sounds like agoraphobia, but I’m not afraid to leave my place, its open spaces I don’t like. I just feel safer when I can touch something to help maintain my balance. I prefer the walker with the increased sense of support it gives me, and admit I walk better, straighter and with more confidence with it. Even with the cane I use my free hand to touch ‘base’ so to speak, with walls, furniture, and sometimes people.

I have a fear of falling and that old joke of “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” isn’t so funny anymore.

I remember when I was a kid and my Dad did the collection at church. Our church was round, with the altar table in the centre and five sections radiating out, four for the congregation and the fifth for the choir and the Minister’s pulpit. The seating was tiered, so the aisles went downhill from the back to the centre of the church.

My Dad was a big guy, an ex football player, well over six feet and about two hundred and fifty pounds, athletic, but not always graceful. He delighted in teasing his children by taking a few stumbling steps as he began down the aisle, scaring us with the potential mortification of seeing our father tumble down.

My fear of embarrassing myself in public, well, I came by it honestly.

And falling in public, been there, done that, and don’t want to do it again. I once fell in a public parking lot, on a hot summer day when I had walked too far and was weakened by becoming overheated. It was long enough ago that I was walking unaided, but the feeling of that day has never gone away.

Today the fear is greater because my mobility is more compromised, and I’d have a great deal of difficulty getting back on my feet. The smartest thing I’ve done in years was to get the walker, now if I’d only accept it and use it for more than getting to and from the car or the laundry room. I need to replace the cane, but the walker adds another whole set of challenges I seem reluctant to take on right now.

Baby steps, everything is baby steps. 

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