Tuesday, March 11, 2008

THE JOURNEY: Part 1 of 6 - From freedom to...

I used to walk everywhere. I couldn't drive and I didn't always have a ride or money for the bus. When I lived on the farm, our mailbox was about a 1/3 of a mile away and the nearest neighbours were about a mile away, so that was a nice walk or bike ride.

I've also lived in a couple of small towns and always got around on foot or bike. I carried groceries in a backpack or in the bike carrier. I'd walk a half mile with a duffel bag to the nearest Laundromat. I never really thought twice about it. It was a great way to get exercise and get familiar with your surroundings. I abandoned biking when I moved to Winnipeg as it was just to dangerous with my low vision.

Taking long walks was a great way to relax and sort through whatever was weighing on your mind. I found it pretty much impossible to stay mad or stressed after a long brisk walk. Granted there were a few times it took 5 to 7 miles to get rid of that anger/stress, but I never came home mad.

It didn't matter if the walks were with a friend or a solo excursion. I walked in the cool of the morning or the beauty of dusk. I walked in the sun, by the light of the moon, in the rain and in the snow. Walking was my therapy to whatever life through at me. I averaged about 20 - 25 miles/week year round. I was in pretty good shape.

That all changed in November 1990 when I suffered a detached retina in my good eye. I was in the hospital for three weeks and on very strict limitations for the next few months. I wasn't allowed to use the stairs or walk outside of my apartment block without assistance. I couldn't even use my exercise bike or lift anything over 2 kg.

I thought I would loose my mind. My freedom and independence was gone. I went from 40% corrected sight to just under 10% by the time the restrictions were lifted in late March '91. When I was finally given more freedom of movement, I quickly learned that I wasn't really free at all.

Walking was no longer fun and relaxing. It was a major feat of concentration to move safely from point A to point B. Where were the curbs? The driveways,? The cracks? The dips and the rises? Is there any construction or roadblocks? I can hear vehicles but will those drivers actually see me and is that a walk or don't walk? The sun can be so bright that I can literally get headaches even with protective eye covering.

I was not amused. One of my greatest joys was now a journey of anxiety and stress.


Tomorrow; "The Descent to Obesity"

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