Thursday, February 27, 2014

Stick it where the sun...

I have been known to dream of walking: just strolling, unaided. Not a very exciting dream, but still something beyond reach, for now. When I first had the strokes, I was a falling risk. Then I graduated to a walking (Zimmer) frame, which was ghastly. After a brief period with a quad-stick (also ghastly), I got a walking stick of plain wood.

The stick came with license to walk without company, and serves two purposes: it helps me support weight on the brain damaged and then atrophied right side (which is why I sport the stick in my left hand), and second, it provides a steady point of reference for balance. The first function gets steadily less important as I exercise, my right side grows stronger, and my brain relearns control of the muscles.

Two years ago, when walking any distance was hard, my physical therapist set goals for walking to the pub. I wanted to set the goal of walking that far, sooner, and without the stick. She was sceptical. With some work, I was able to walk at least that far, and sooner. I've just bought a new stick, though. 

My old stick had a split, the new one is a lovely dark chestnut one, with some heft to it. To get a new stick I had to accept that the rate of recovery for the two main functions of the stick is different. I barely need the stick to support my weight any more, but I still need it to keep my balance. Acknowledging that compensating for my lack of balance required the stick, was not easy.

What makes it easier is knowing that although I am compensating now, I do not expect to do so forever. It may be slow to do so, but I will recover my balance eventually. In the meantime, my new stick is handsome (thanks to the excellent Stick Man), and the one I get in June will be excellent, handsome and rather fancy.