Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Stubbornness...and grieving

Me with my renaissance walking stick, wearing a green shirt, black pants, race number 1673. I'm giving the photographer a piece sign with my fingers
Fall 2011, NC Marathon 5k fun run/walk
Today, the First Lady of the United States was speaking at the university that I work and go to school at.  Fearing for the parking and traffic situation, I asked my SO to drop me off.  I had a meeting with my adviser after work, and figured I could find a ride home after my meeting.  I was having a funky walking day, so I grabbed my cheapo walking poles to become a human quadruped.

Work was pretty uneventful, so I headed to my meeting.  I have to admit, I'm so happy that I'm on this track in my life with these people...they support me, challenge me, I challenge & support them.  Our research focuses are different, but it all coalesces into a fantastic scholastic family.

So I leave the meeting, realizing that while I'm not feeling comfortable with my walk home, I'm not comfortable asking either my adviser or a fellow student for a ride home.  I also don't want to call a friend to get me.  It's only 0.8 miles from campus to my house.  I don't want to be a burden, I don't want to be dependent, and I tell myself that I can go as slowly as I want or need to.  I tell myself that I used to enjoy walking home leisurely from campus, and that I could stop if I wanted or needed to.

I wasn't even off campus when I started to regret my decision, but I'm stubborn.  The pain isn't that bad, my feet aren't that numb, my legs are functioning somewhat, it's no big deal that I have to look down at my feet to make sure that they're doing what my brain tells them to do.  I notice that I'm getting more useful sensory information from my walking poles than my feet, which is a bit disconcerting, but I push forward at my slow shuffle.

It took me a bit over 40 minutes to go eight-tenths of a mile.  I'm trying desperately to not compare this to my former abilities (like when I walked the NC Marathon 5k fun run/walk with a friend last fall), but it's hard.  This walk was a reminder of what I've lost physically from the spine injury, and most poignantly, this year.  I'm desperately trying to not make these comparisons as they are reminders of not only lost function but dreams and aspirations that needed to be rewritten, reimagined, or resigned.

Perhaps my mind is stuck grieving over these bodily loses because my perception is colored by pain, much of it physical from a walk that part of me knew I shouldn't have done.  For right now, I'm trying to get my mind back in a positive head space.  It's not easy, it's a constantly bumpy journey...but I'm learning.

Not only am I learning, but this is making my search for accessible & affordable transportation to campus a more urgent priority.


  1. In the last two years I've gone from using a manual wheelchair and living on my own with my Life Partner to using a motorized chair, living in assisted living, and unable to live with my Life Partner. It's a lot to deal with. I would never pretend to understand what it's like to go from being fully ambulatory to needing a wheelchair and/or cane, but I know it's been hard for me to come to terms with my decreased independence.

    1. Loss of mobility & independence is hard, no matter the level ((hugs)).