Yesterday I ventured out on my first un-escorted walk. This felt significant. As I donned my shoes and cap, my mum watched on with a look of concern. To be fair, it’s the expression she usually has, when looking at me. Someone please tell her I’m joking or I’ll be in trouble.
I reassured her by saying I’d have my phone with me and would call if I ran into trouble, to which she replied “I’ll scuttle to the rescue in my fluffy purple slippers.”
“Wonderful”, I think I said and left before the mental image forming in my mind could become any more vivid.
Jason had suggested a walking route he believed would pose the least problems for me and as I approached the end of the driveway, a small rebellious voice bubbled up inside, discarding his advice, saying I’d be fine walking through the neighbourhood as we had been doing (just as long as I avoided the blood hungry pooch!).
I stood at the threshold of the drive where it meets the road and surveyed the quiet street we live upon. As if in conspiracy with my husband, there seemed to be rather a lot of activity. To my right there were tradespeople working on a neighbour’s home, whilst further down the street a large truck with a cherry-picker was holder workers in place as they chopped down sections of a large tree overhanging the footpath, to the left the mail man was riding his motorbike in the course of his work and to top it off a bloody neighbor was driving up to their house. Seriously! Our normally quiet street seemed overly busy to my brain and I knew walking past and around all these hazards with limited vision was too much for me to manage on my first walk alone. I sighed and turned toward the sensible route Jason had suggested and tried to pretend he wasn’t right. What can I say – stubbornness rears up at the dumbest times!
As I walked over some unsteady ground I took a moment to remind myself of the deficits I needed to be aware of and the ways in which I could compensate for them. Examples of this internal dialogue include the following: walking on uneven ground, lift my feet higher to prevent tripping on something if I have misjudged its height. Again, walking on uneven ground, concentrate when putting feet down, so I can use my muscles to compensate for any unseen dips in the ground.
Approaching the curb of the main road I paused to ensure I was being safe. I turned my head and body to the right to see fully what traffic may be coming or pulling out, and the same again to the left. I could see what might have been a car coming and consciously listened to get a sense of how far away it was and its approximate speed (running is not an option for me at the moment). As I listened oh so carefully, a plane on approach to the airport flew over rendering my ‘active listening’ pointless. Once the plane was gone, I began the whole checking for traffic thing again. At this rate, I thought I might get home in time for breakfast the following day. Eventually I made it over the road and began my walk. The MacDonnell Ranges looming over the few houses nearby, the azure sky and lovely warm sunshine doing wonders for my mental state. A chill breeze reminded me it is winter but I did not mind it as it refreshed me.
I walk, slower than I have recently, a few days off and a very bad pain day the previous day seems to have left me a little weaker. My hip and leg fatigue quickly, dictating how far away from home I go but still I enjoy the walk, being out in the sun and fresh air, being yelled at by birds protectively parenting over their young hatchlings. Other birds sing from the grasses and trees lining the street. I love this place. It restores me. I am grateful to live somewhere this beautiful.
I turn earlier than I thought I would need to and amble back towards home. I told mum I would be about 20 minutes and check my phone for the time, not wanting to worry her. As it turns out, I arrive home without incident at the promised time. I am pleased to note that I am not tired when finished. I walked 1.5Kms and that’s ok.
Mum greets me at the door, “Right on time, how did you go?” I tell her it was fine and I managed without incident. I note she has dressed since I left, as she continues, “Oh good, I didn’t have to be the Purple Flash then.” I note her purple top and similarly hued pants. The thought of needing to be rescued by my 75-year-old mother is not my happiest but I appreciate the back up.
Yesterday I went for a walk, alone, for the first time in six and half weeks. It felt significant because it was. It was liberating but also reminded me of what I am working with.