Saturday, July 30, 2011

Disabled

I thought I'd pretty much plumbed the depths of my sixty-and-single-in-Seattle topic. I was pondering what to say in a final, The End, post.

But then I got too busy being disabled to write.

Which is how I realized disability is an obvious topic for my theme, and never yet addressed.

Nevertheless, I hadn't the heart to write about it until it began to seem like it would end.

It's only Achilles tendonitis. Not that big a deal, I told myself in my gloom. When I have to keep saying no to bike club rides, I tell myself, "Hey, Mary, it could have been so much worse! What if you were laid up from a bike accident, with a broken hip or something?"

And when I can't go dancing, I say, "At least it's not cancer. Sure, you're stuck at home, but you're not throwing up from chemo."

Et cetera.

Still, this kind of inspirational talk only goes so far. Because despite all the worse possibilities I didn't have, the truth was, I couldn't walk, even three blocks to my corner store.

I couldn't even bus. I hadn't realized how much a bus-rider life requires the ability to, say, hike five blocks up the hill to Town Hall from the bus stop on 3rd.

I could ride my bike for errands, 5 miles or so at an easy pace, spinning freely. Thank God.

If you had ever asked me my number one mental health strategy, it probably would have dawned on me that it's walking. But I hadn't quite grasped it until I couldn't do it. Whenever I feel the slightest bit low, my habit is to kick my butt out the door and walk it off.

It's been a couple of weeks now since I've been able to do that. Someday, maybe I won't be able to do it ever again. What then? I guess I'll be glad I've had this practice time. I'll want to remember how I'm coping.

And this is how:

1. Stay in the moment. My worst fear was sinking into a clinical depression. I decided to worry about that when it happens.

2. Call your friends. The truth is, I'm often so busy dancing and cycling, I'm not available for theater and movies and making dinner for people. But now I am. And the kind reactions of my friends have buoyed me up like a life-ring I didn't know I had. And I'm saying yes to new things, happy hour meetups with groups of strangers and stuff.

3. Look for the invitation. It occurred to me that for all the healthiness of my walking strategies, it was possible that I was staying in motion to avoid things that require stillness. Feeling. Thinking. Writing.

Hmmm.

4. Take your book medicine. Poor me! I have to sit around all day and read!

5. Do everything to get better. This foot thing probably started in April, but I could live with it. Finally saw a physical therapist on June 17, and I've more or less done what he said, but it wasn't until this week that he gave a name to my condition. And that alone made me feel so much better. Because how could we know if stretching and icing and balancing on one foot would cure IT, if we didn't know what IT is? A masseuse friend of Mom's in Michigan suggested massage, which worked brilliantly. And the masseuse suggested arnica, and I'm slathering that on. And it's starting to feel better.

Maybe I'm crazy, but I'm hoping to go to a dance tonight, carefully. No waltzing -- too much push-off. But swing should work. And if it hurts even a tiny bit, I'll quit.

When I get home, I'll stretch and ice and ibu and arnica. And be so thankful for what isn't wrong with me.
 


All material copyright © 2009 by Mary Davies