Thursday, September 4, 2014

Walking Tough

Being moderately polite and an Englishman in New York, I like to get out of the way of someone coming in my direction. That's not always possible these days, but the intent is still there. It has therefore been unsettling to swerve towards people I'm trying to dodge. And weird.

Years of urban living made me quite good at removing myself as an obstruction without reducing my own velocity nor ending up in anyone else's path. I never thought about how I moved, I just got out of the way and kept going. Walking with a stick and without full control has revealed some of that mechanism, and its unfortunate side effect.

To keep moving, I was shifting my center of gravity to one side, and moving my body to the other side, all timed to coincide with crossing paths with the oncoming person. The net motion was that my center of gravity didn't move a lot—and I could keep traveling forward—but my body moved to one side, so I was out of the way. Neat and efficient, when you can do it.

As I've got stronger, some of the automatic behaviors are returning, but certainly not all. In this case, I think I have been shifting my center of gravity, but can't move my body at the same time. The net result is that I lurch towards things that I am trying to avoid.

Now I understand what's going on, it's easier to prevent. It's yet another thing to think about while I am walking, but I am less likely to crash into things I don't intend to, so Progress!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Time Passes, Slowly

Nearly three years on from the set of strokes that gave me brain damage, I don't know what I expected, but my life is not wonderful. Perhaps I thought I would have got better, faster but I haven't. I've been a lot more depressed, and consequently inert, than I thought I would be.

Looking back, I underestimated how debilitating the impairments I live with are. Individually, they don't seem that bad, but in combination they're frustrating. They are also binary: improvements are great and all, but the underlying problem still obtains. My vision has improved a little, but I still have double vision and oscillopsia, so my visual world is… bad.

Ataxia seems like it wouldn't be so terrible, but I can never just stand up, or just turn around, or even just walk down the street. I have to pay attention, I have to be conscious, and even then I can never be certain that my limbs won't betray me. Two and a half years ago, I thought I would be leaving my stick behind. I was wrong. It's an inconvenient necessity that is ever-present. The few times and please I leave it at the door are relished, but times of great care.

The tremor is laughable, but all-encompassing. Try only using your off hand for anything. Then imagine cutting an onion with a knife hand that shakes at random. It is quite tricky. I don't even bother thinking about the facial palsy, and speech impairment.

All of those things are improving, but it is taking such a long damn time that I find it quite tough, quite a lot of the time.

I seem to have no good news, although I am sure the slow, steady improvement is a good thing. From the inside it is exhaustingly slow, and utterly tedious.

So, if I shut up for a while, it's most likely because I am heartily fed up with being a shadow of my physical self, and just want to go play video games and not think about reality for the duration. I'll be back, probably just the same as before.