GRAVITY IS A HARSH MISTRESS

I watch my feet and watch my steps. No more casually trotting down the stairs to pick up the mail … or anything. Mostly, it’s a balance problem. Especially going down. I have a tendency to lurch.

deck stairway steps down

I have fallen on steps. I’ve caught myself before hurtling to the bottom, but in my sense memory, I can feel my bones crunching as I hit the ground. Ouch.

Of all the indignities of getting old, my clumsiness and slowness is the most aggravating. I move like a giant sloth in a rain forest. I have to keep track of where my limbs are lest I knock things over, then have to search for them. Getting down on the floor is easy. Getting up requires knowledge of physics and considerable strategic planning. Until I learn how to use reverse gravity, “up” is a challenge.

Some days are better. If I’m on a smooth, flat surface, I can move reasonably well. Not a picture of grace, but I can do it. On uneven ground — a dirt path or a rough sidewalk — it’s not pretty.

72-bonnie-stairs-scotties-073016_027

It wasn’t that long ago when I could move normally, or mostly normally.I was downright spry back then. Maybe five years ago. It wasn’t that things didn’t hurt, but I could push them out of my mind and move through them. Can’t do that anymore.

So I’m careful. Slow. Watching where I put my feet. Very careful about footwear.

The world is designed for the agile and fleet of foot. I am neither.

CAREFUL | THE DAILY POST

54 thoughts on “GRAVITY IS A HARSH MISTRESS

  1. I recall that a few months after my mother’s stroke, when she was moving again, it had to be flat even surfaces or we had a problem. Going down stairs was a bigger challenge than going up. I always thought that had to do with looking down and the fear of falling forward. I usually went in front so I could catch, but we probably both would have tumbled to the bottom if that had ever happened.

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  2. With me it is completely a balance problem. It has been going for a long while. I remember when we moved into our new offices about 20 years ago when I was a working woman, I only used the lift. My boss found it better, as I was falling all over the place. I then had to hold onto stuff as I walked throught the office, but you do not realise the full impact of the whole thing. I now live on the ground floor, thank goodness, but going to the cellar for the washing machine and the hobby room means use the lift. I am glad we have no stairs inside our appartment and everything is available by lift.

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    • I wish I had a lift. We may have to install one eventually. Even Garry is beginning to struggle with the stairs.

      This stuff really creeps up on you. You don’t notice it much, but then, one day, you realize how much you’ve changed your life to accommodate various physical limitations.

      I was seeing double for about a year before I realized it. I had been closing one eye so I could see and it was Garry who said “Why do you watch TV with one eye closed?” and I realized I was seeing double if both eyes were open. I hadn’t noticed.

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  3. Yep, that gravity business is tough to deal with, and sometimes walking is *hard*! >_< I've fallen more in the past few years than in my entire life and it's undignified. When we were looking for a house, I said "one story or no deal." I ain't playin' with no stairs.

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  4. When I was younger, I used to laugh at the old commercial “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Now I understand totally. My bathroom is on the second floor at the top of the stairs. In order to scrub the bathroom floor, I must, of course, get down on my hands and knees, and after a few seconds I find I must sit since my knees won’t hold me. Once I’m done cleaning, the only way I can stand up again is to butt-crawl to the stairs, sit on the landing, put my feet on the second step down, grab the railing and pull myself up. Needless t o say, I only do this type of cleaning when no one else is around because I don’t want any witnesses to my feebleness. I do keep my cell phone in my pocket, however, in case I misjudge and fall down those darn steps.

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  5. Regular riding of the Airdyne has drastically improved my mobility. And, now I have a mountain bike (again) and I was afraid my balance wasn’t going to be up to it, but I got on and no problem. I am afraid of falling because getting up is not always easy, but… I’m really happy that I can now walk a mile or two without pain or awkwardness. Maybe not as fast as I could, but when I moved out here two years ago, even that was beyond me. The problem now is it is time to move the stationary bike inside. I am going to hook up my DVD player so I can watch “myself” “ride” through the Alps because, good as it is for me, it’s gotten boring.

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    • It’s nice that whatever was bothering you responds to therapy. Until pretty recently, I was surprisingly mobile despite all of the problem internally. But they kind of caught up with me. Cancer, heart disease. A lot of time in surgery and hospitals and recovering … it all takes a toll. A big toll. I think the biggest were the various meds they gave me after the cancer. They did some serious damage to my body. I keep wondering is the rapid decline of my heart didn’t have something to do with those drugs. I’ll never know.

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      • I know that I’m lucky. My various problems so far are helped by four drugs, a stationary bike and a big white dog. My prayer is that it won’t get worse. I remember just three years ago I couldn’t breathe, smell or taste and my doc had no idea why. It had gone on for two years, constantly worsening until I was becoming afraid to drive because I’d get woozy from oxygen deprivation. Turned out to be a rare condition called Triad Asthma or Aspirin Exacerbated Respiratory Disease. NO one has this, but I do. It’s a hyper-sensitivity to salicylic acid — plants, basically. I can “OD” on salad… That and OA and the family hyper-tension… It’s as if we go forward through life and our DNA has sinister booby traps set every few years. 😦

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          • Yep. I was thinking the other day that I’ve made a lot of physical progress through a lot of effort that other people don’t know about. When I first looked at houses here two years ago, there was one I didn’t buy because I couldn’t step up and over the edge of the old footed bathtub. Now I could do that. It’s not much to anyone but to me it’s a big deal. I might always go down steps sideways, but that’s OK. I’m doing it.

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    • I have a torn ACL on my left knee. It has been that way for close to 40 years, but it is more unstable now than it was earlier in my life, so it adds a layer of uncertainty to going downstairs. Up doesn’t bother me so much. If my knee disappears from under me on my way up, I’ll fall forward and that’ll be it. Down, though … it looks a lot longer than it did when I was young. And of course, there’s all the other stuff. Blood pressure and arthritis and bursitis etc. ad nauseum. And all those warnings from doctor saying “Just DON’T fall. Don’t fall.” I try not to fall. I don’t want to press my luck 🙂

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        • I started falling apart early. You know how they tell you to be active? Every single sport in which I participated, I broke, tore, or displaced something more. By the time I was 20, I had already undergone massive spine surgery. Then after I healed, I went right back to riding and all the other stuff that broke me in the first place. I ignored everything for almost 40 years because I didn’t want to know. Then, I had a car accident and they insisted I have x-rays and … well … There was a lot of OMIGODs and HOLY SHITs and everyone got really upset. Everyone except me. But then they sat me down and explained what the x-rays meant. Which was more than a little disheartening. I don’t get imaging of my spine anymore. There’s nothing good I’m going to learn and I already know there’s nothing anyone can do. The less I think about it, the better. But really, getting old pretty much sucks.

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