I fall. Where I live, the ground is uneven. Sometimes, I mis-step. My ankle twists. It feels like I go over in slow motion, but I can’t stop myself from falling. Sometimes I hurt myself when I fall. It makes me feel clumsy and inept. It also makes me determined to do something about it.
Before I continue, here is a little background for those who don’t know me well:
I have osteo arthritis. For two years, I walked as little as possible and then only with a cane. I had a total hip replacement, complete with pelvic bone graft, in 2012. After surgery, a physical therapist showed me some exercises to rebuild the strength in my hip. There were serious range-of-motion limitations for the first 90 days after surgery. For the second 90 days, I was told I could gradually increase my range-of-motion. Suffice it to say that after two years of walking with a cane, surgically severed muscles, and six months of restricted range-of-motion, I lost strength in my legs and the ability to save myself from falls.
I like to be independent and self-sufficient. I tend to take responsibility for myself, rather than expect someone else to solve my problems for me. I am able to walk over rough, uneven ground without falling, but that requires me to watch where I put my feet. If I only look at my feet, just think of all the other things I won’t see! Unacceptable.
Six months after the hip replacement, I struggled to climb stairs. I knew I was not up for weight training or aerobics. Walking alone was not helping. Then I thought of Tai Chi.
I found several sample videos on YouTube, which I tried. This one was my favorite and I sent off for the complete DVD.
Before long, I was able to step over small obstacles and also to climb stairs. I wasn’t concerned with learning complex Tai Chi routines such as those you can sometimes see in city parks. I was interested in certain of the moves that I found challenging, and practiced them over and over and over.
In January, I carelessly stepped on the edge of a concrete slab. My ankle twisted. I was unable to stop the fall, though I was able to lean away from the right leg with its titanium hip joint. I fell hard on the left knee. Nothing was broken, but it really, really hurt. Five months later, it still aches when I kneel.
In April, I was working in the greenhouse and turned to leave, but my cat was right there. I did some contortions to avoid stepping on her. And fell. This time, a corner of the plywood workbench found my right bicep. The skin was scraped and the next day my arm sported a colorful 4-inch bruise.
Obviously, my exercise routine was in need of improvement. Another YouTube search lead me to Ask Doctor Jo, who had a simple, but highly effective solution.
[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/AYOO6wUC.x?p=1 width=”720″ height=”433″]
Today, after a nice gardening session of weeding and transplanting, I was on my way to put away tools and empty pots. Both hands were full. I mis-stepped. My ankle twisted. I stumbled. But today, I did NOT fall.
I did not recover gracefully, but I did recover.
Today, I did not fall.
I was ridiculously proud of myself.
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Age does take its toll on us. Most people lose muscle mass as they grow older. Reflexes slow. Sometimes arthritis or other disability complicates our lives. It is possible to overcome some of those complications and improve the quality of our lives.
I recently wrote about Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. My story today is about a self-fulfilling prophecy. I found the means to improve my mobility. I can’t not have arthritis. I can’t not be older than I used to be. I can pick my battles and if I do so with careful intent, I can win them.
So can you.