When learning to walk I have one major piece of advice: Don’t look down. And it is almost impossible not to look down, especially when you have a numb leg and a foot on the other leg that seems to only have partial feeling and sometimes decides it is not going anywhere. There is a need to look in on them and make sure they are doing what they are supposed to be doing, taking turns being in front of one another, but looking down just messes everything up.
I am unsure of my feet. I am not completely confident with my somewhat lessoning double vision and my balance often takes coffee breaks without letting me know. So it is only natural that I would want to check in with my feet and make sure they are working. So I look down, and there they are, all four of my feet trying to move on a surface that is also slightly out of focus and seems to be moving on its own. It’s enough to make anyone feel a bit seasick. I decided to take a note from a toddler I saw on TV, and not look at anything at all except the destination. That works for a good portion of the time.
I have also noticed that walking very slow doesn’t help. The way the body balances during forward movement and the way it balances when still are completely different things. And really slow movement doesn’t fit into either category, creating many moments when the feeling of losing balance hits, prompting a fear of falling and causing one to look down. It’s a no-win situation. So, I start a bit slow to get my legs going and then as quickly as possible, I pick up speed.
As I mentioned, keeping the eyes fixed on the destination is key, but not as easy as I thought it would be. Some of my senses have become much sharper and a surface, like say, the parking area in the compound where I live, has always seemed flat. It isn’t. It is full of invisible hills and valleys, all of which give the feeling of being on quite bumpy terrain, again, creating that overwhelming desire to look down. And don't even get me started on stray pebbles... But the good news is, a few rounds through the obstacle course and I now know the lay of the land.
Other fun things include butterflies and birds which like to cross my path and draw my eye to them. I have noticed my body usually tends to go where I am looking regardless of where I want it to go. And then there is the issue of what I can only refer to as “the spins.” If you have ever been drunk to a point of seeing the room spin when you are perfectly still, you know that feeling that comes just before the mad dash to the bathroom to vomit, then you have an idea of what I mean. These days, if I turn my head to fast, it seems to start the whole world moving and it just keeps going. And going. And going. My whole world spins right ‘round like a record, baby. And when I see a bird or butterfly, cool lizard or anything else of interest, I usually forget what I m doing, turn my head too fast and then just hold on until it all stops. It is only a second or two, but it feels like so much longer and often makes me feel physically sick.
And then there is the wind. Oh what fun the wind can be. Logically, I know what the wind is and how it feels on my body, but my nerves tell a different story I have yet to figure out and it throws everything in my balance and navigation out of whack. I went out today for a walk and while the wind felt cool on the good, temperature feeling half of my body, it also made it incredibly difficult to walk. I haven’t figured out why yet. So for now, it is both a welcome and unwelcome entity in my exercise routine.
I have a walking stick, but no real idea as to how to use it. Do I move it with my weak leg? After my leg? With the leg on the other side of my body? On its own before or after taking a step? I never thought about these things before and now here I am clueless, but I will figure it out. That is one of my goals for tomorrow. That and not looking down.