Saturday, September 18, 2010

My Obstacle Course

Getting around when you have MS can be challenging at times. I never realized how much I took walking for granted until my walking got slower and, occasionally, a little unsteady. These days, with my troubled gait and bothersome fatigue fighting against me, I often feel like getting around in everyday situations is like making my way through an obstacle course.

To keep the fatigue from walking to a minimum, I try to keep it simple, remembering that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Still, there are those times when I have to change course when I'm walking, resulting in extra steps. There can be people or things that I have to go around when I am out and about. Little unexpected roadblocks. Just the other day, I had to walk around two parked bicycles that were blocking my path to the entrance of my local pharmacy. Sometimes I even have to walk around my cats, or step over them. They like to challenge me. I think it's their way of trying to keep me nimble.

Whenever I go somewhere new, I have to keep an eye out for steps, and scope out the parking situation to see how far I'll have to walk. Sometimes handicapped parking is not available, so I recently obtained a cane, which helps a bit with walking greater distances. I am mindful of curbs, or cracks in the pavement. Trip hazards. If I trip these days, I fall. I can't recover from a trip and regain my balance anymore. Another worry I have to contend with is winter travel. Walking through snow and over potentially slippery surfaces is always a concern. A little patch of ice and one wrong move, and down I'll go!

I try to look at getting around and performing daily tasks with my MS symptoms as an adventure. It isn't easy. Sometimes the obstacles I encounter can be frustrating. Maybe my arms get fatigued, and I find myself fighting with food packaging that's difficult to open, or dropping things repeatedly. Or I'm walking through a store, or wherever, and I feel like I just want to scream, "Everyone get out of my way!" But somehow, I get through it.

Life itself is sometimes an obstacle course. We make our way through it, bumping into this problem, or that dilemma. My own personal physical obstacle course has me dodging low energy here, having to take a longer walk there. Things that were once simple to do now require much more effort and attention to detail. Well, without obstacles, I guess life would be pretty boring.

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