I planned to post this two and a half months ago. I wanted to post it before Balticon for friends that would see it in our room, as warning of sorts. I know my haircut seemed rash for some reason, after years of talking about cutting it all off. Here’s some warning on this one for future visitors to #TheSeuss (our silly nickname for our home.)
My General Practitioner prescribed something last winter(? Spring?) that I am only now finally coming to terms with enough to post publicly — a walker. Even after the daily struggles that I described for basic self-care, let alone toning and cardio and strengthening exercise, the determination somehow still felt like an accusation and led to a variety of ridiculous thoughts. I joke about living a #VealLife, but denied the need for a walker, in spite of:
- Using a cane/sturdy parasol for years. They either compensate for dizziness; strength; pain management; removing cob webs from my sometimes slow moving brain; and hooking stuff to pull toward me when necessities are slightly out of reach.
- Using braces and wraps for a decade. The trigger for their use was over a decade ago and, really, it took a particularly long time to recover from a sprained ankle while dizzy on stairs in December of 2012. I’m now also alternating compression gloves (also a gift from Heather, they help so much!) and various braces to help with hand joint pain (the pain is similar to broken bones, at its worst) and carpal tunnel. They are necessary for any keyboard work, chores or for holding our sweet Little Bear.
- For years now, when traveling on public transportation, I have been using all the disabled services available. I feel I’m entitled to since I’m also traveling with my handicap placard. Whether it’s seating on a bus or a requesting a waiting wheelchair after getting off of a plane after hours of my joints stiffening at high altitude (a particularly nasty combo). I’ve literally gone from running in 5k’s and training for a half-marathon in 2011, to now simply hoping to survive the luxury of travel beyond a 3 hour radius. (But that’s a whole ‘nother post.)
- My refusal of scooters as an option to the extent that I have long told loved ones that if they ever saw me in a scooter that they have to knock me out out of it and make me wrestle my way back onto it, to stay strong. Meaning, I could use it, but only when I HAD to. And I had to be ready to demonstrate that I hadn’t given up the fight, not yet. And if I had given up, it would remind me that there still is a fight to be had, every day.
But… a walker?
My heart sank, as it felt a bit like going backwards so many more steps than having to stop running and then regular cardio exercise. But she explained that it would make me more able to move around with the further stability for my continual dizziness as well as balanced support for my lower body. For years now, I am continually switching sides because of the flare up cause by stress on one side or the other, for using the cane. It would lead to more movement, knowing I was supported no matter which symptom had me debilitated, or chose to hit me while crossing a room.
Reminder: None of my illness/conditions are degenerative or terminal. And I only really remember telling a handful of trusted friends, venting fear of what it might be signalling – the next phase in body FAIL. I was already lost in the maze of options of which type would be perfect for me and was frustrated and venting to Heather, an extremely supportive friend, who literally jumped in at offering not only moral support but … a brand new walker. It was one of my first conversations and I was griping and whining, I don’t want to use one and I can’t afford one anyways and making all the excuses possible not to sink to that use.
Heather said that there was an unused walker, a basic one with the tags still on it and everything, back at her home for a family member that ended up not needing it and they’d just never gotten rid of it. Knowing that the lower end was $50+ after a previous Amazon session, I gratefully accepted the gift after the briefest of hesitations. It happened so fast and was so generous, that it made me accept the need and begin using it. In hindsight, I guess I was ready to use one before I knew it.
I set it up in our bedroom and then didn’t touch it for months. I had to stare it down and get used it, and to measure if I thought it would help move more.
Then, I spontaneously put it next to the bed one night last fall after laying in morning “stores” (breakfast, drink, pills, cane), in the hopes that maybe the first and most painful steps of the day would have me, at least, better supported than the cane gave with the joint pain I had. I just dove in and didn’t think about what it meant.
It was the difference between crawling to the bathroom and walking, granting much peace. Yup, crawling. It’s that bad and you should know that about me. This is me, now and I use it throughout the day in our bedroom.
In the months since then, it’s been a great relief to have it, next to my bed, every morning. I haven’t left the top floor of our home with one, yet. I only recently have allowed myself to assess and decide I need to pass that milestone, too, which means getting a 2nd one for the main floor. It’s where much of my Daughter and Grandson spend the daytime hours and where I’m of my most use as a human baby monitor, when I’m able.
And as a few very kind people know, I had it at Balticon. There are some folks that kept its presence private and secret, after I voiced my embarrassment, or didn’t have to, and they have my thanks for their discretion. It did make the difference to me getting out of the room or having any productivity in our room when I wasn’t able to leave it.
The following week, I asked my Rheumatologist about the weight of it and differences, after she was so happy to hear my motion has indeed increased with the use of the walker in the bedroom. She agreed that I need something lighter because of my Fibromyalgia “hot spots” for the main level of the house making it more of a challenge to use. And because on days I’ll need it, I sure as hell wouldn’t be able to get the one I have downstairs without aid and I’m shopping for a wheeled option for downstairs. Sexy, I know, but better to know before you visit.
Our oldest son and wife are living with us, and they and my husband are kind to me and I haven’t had to make that move, yet. For that, I’m exceedingly grateful (although not nearly good enough at showing it), because it also allows me to “watch” Little Bear from the comfortable nest of my bed/desk/dining table/sofa in our bedroom. Chooch or Gal are always on the same floor with me, so if any needs arise that I can’t cover still have him safe, but they are free to roam.
I’m the baby monitor, when I’m able to be one, watching him while he sleeps if nothing else. Lifting him, now at 13.3 pounds and two months old, is a painful struggle, but the Baby Bjorn helps, although rarely after getting him in it with assistance. Otherwise, I only carry him a few feet at a time and never on the stairs. Ever. I’m terrible on the stairs now.
Now, as was offered by a dear friend for my cane when I first got it years ago, I could dress my walker(s) up and make it snazzy, but I’ve decided I like the medical/functional appearance of it. It’s a constant reminder that it’s not an accessory, it’s a tool to strengthen my body, and to be used only as needed, not to the extent of my tendency recently towards laziness from fatigue.
I use my current, hefty and solid gifted walker next to my bed, for stretching and light exercise, balance and strength boosting, as little as it is. It’s not as much as other friends have/are doing in the aftermath since brother-from-another-mother P.G. Holydfield’s passing last August. But I’m still fighting where I can, damn it. I have realistic goals that I aspire to so I can make them and feel empowered to aspire to more. That’s my process.
And with all the added stress of moving in difficult times, weight gain has hit this Future Fat Granny. I’m doing ok with little changes and minimizing calories and increasing nutrition in my sustenance (smoothies for TMJ relief). But motion is still so painful that my vascular is not as cardio as it once was. Or whatever.
I’ve got goals for this year, and I need to lose some of the grief and uber nesting weight gain and get as strong as many of my friends are getting, as my body allows. There won’t be a race, but there will be health improvement.
Okay, so, yes, I actually have challenged a few folks to a race to age 100, including my former M-i-L on my Son’s wedding day. She has a lead on me, which she pointed out, and I told her something along the lines of hoping I was there to celebrate it with her. Sincerely. She’s a wonderful grandmother to my sons and I’m so grateful for that.
The health goals are there, and post-Balticon 2015, with the last memorial we have promised to throw for our P.G. is done. So many planned things were not done, but that was because I aimed too high. Those things are stashed away in the hopes we (SpecFicMedia.com) get to throw next year’s New Media Party.
Lookit, with multiple setbacks, thanks to the chaos of our rental home and such, I didn’t go as strong into grand-parenting as I’d hoped. But I can get moving a lot easier with the walker, and once I’m in motion, I keep going until I can’t anymore. Which is, admittedly, not very far, but as satisfying as I can get for now, newly dedicated to enlarge my route beyond the bedroom, first floor and home.
The walker has improved my motion to be less of a burden, and so my new friend stays so that I can try and keep up with all the wonder and surprise that the future holds.
8 replies on “Talk Like an Open Book: My Walker”
Hi Viv, I don’t see a cane or walker. I see an amazing woman walking down the hall at Balticon that I look up to, and hope to call a friend. You are remarkable in all you do. I see a strong woman that keeps walking and fighting on.
I’m glad your new friend is by your side and holding strong for you. Here’s to many more steps to come.
I am agog. Thank you so much, Melissa. **hugs**
How well I know this feeling. It’s taken me a long time to be willing to wear my medical alert bracelet, give up driving, and be ok with even considering getting a disabled sticker for the car. Accepting and moving forward with grace is the first step to, well…recovering. You have to do what you have to do. I hope you see improvement.
Thanks, hon. Still wish you didn’t know the journey as well as ya do. *gentle hug*
You are one of the strongest women I know. Strong in spirit, strong in love, strong creatively, strong in every sense of the word. With all the ways that you support so many, it’s no wonder your body is sometimes less strong than you’d like it to be. There is no shame, no dishonor in that.
You inspire me to do better. To be better. To reach further as an artist and a person. In the little time I’ve spent in your company, I know I’ve learned so much. I don’t think you’re aware of the lessons you teach just by being you.
I’ve got a bit of a lead on you, but I’ll take that bet too. First one to 100 buys the drinks.
Love you bunches!
Challenge accepted! <3
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Proud of you!
Honestly, I barely notice the cane and only noticed the walker because you pointed it out. I see you first and foremost and I think that’s how most people see it. Some may feel shocked, but they may be the ones who are in denial or haven’t been paying attention much.