Sunday, 18 May 2014

A walk on the wobbly side

I used to be able to do it when I was two. In fact, I did it well enough for nearly fifty years. Now it's a lot more difficult, canes included.

You see, I mean walking. That simple thing we learn as toddlers and develop as we get older into striding and running and even jumping. I'm a toddler again - and not a very well-balanced one at that.

It wasn't one of the things that I had on my list of things that would surely deteriorate and which I might miss, and yet I miss walking pretty much more than anything else. It just goes to show that hindsight really is the only true form of 20:20 vision.

I used to walk a lot. We live right beside woods that are - or, rather, were - a joy to wander through. Now all I can do is look out at them and swear. You see, walking hurts before I've gone many wobbly steps, and walking tires my legs to the point of standstill. I use a cane - a walking stick - and any joy I used to feel at picking out a fancy design has long gone. These are just sticks which help me stay upright longer than any despairing attempt at walking a few feet without one.

Sure, I miss running and I miss jumping, but be fair, I was approaching fifty when this stupid (and debilitating) condition was diagnosed, and my days of running and jumping were going to reach a natural end before too many more years had passed. But walking? Surely that was a gentle joy that I could look forward to well into my dotage?

The lack of that simple, childhood-learned, ability changes far more than I ever imagined it would.

I can't decide to cook a meal for fear that my legs will give up the ghost before I've spent more than a few minutes wandering from fridge to worktop to cooker. I can't choose holidays that offer the pedestrianised chance to explore a new city. I can't take my grandson fossil-hunting along the sandier stretches of the North Kent coast. I can't even re-visit a beauty spot like the New Forest where I once used to creep along quietly to see wild deer or wild horses roaming free.

Sure, I can still walk until my legs ache. But it used to be miles and now it's just feet.

But it's not all bad. At least no one pesters me to take part in 'fun' five-a-side football games at work now...

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