I so badly want to walk independently. Because of my imbalance I can only walk safely when I hang onto furniture, while using my frame or most recently, while learning to use a crutch. One day my dad saw me leaning on a stable surface and jokingly asked if I was scared his furniture would fall.
In 2004 I had a serious car accident that made me immobile. While driving to a volunteer function I attempted to avoid an animal crossing the road and hit a pole. I spent three months in a coma, after which I regained consciousness and the full extent of my accident was revealed to me. I suffered a brain injury, amongst other things.
At the moment I feel balance is an innate ability that has simply disappeared. But because of my drive and rigorous physiotherapy sessions, I'm sure I will walk independently again.
I see a well-renowned physiotherapist at Epworth Rehabilitation Hospital and he's teaching me how to be independently mobile. He is a tough guy. I'm forbidden from speaking for the entire session because talking completely distracts me. This is a harder task for me than it was to edit my older brother's law thesis, as anyone who knows me knows I love to talk. The physical therapy is gruelling. Even my carer who was once a gym instructor once said she'd never heard me so out of breath before.
I am embarrassed that a simple task, such as walking, is so difficult for me. I have two young nephews who like all young children adore ball games and active play. As much as I would love to participate and play with them I just can't. But I'm working on it.
Step by step
Apart from my balance difficulty, there are a handful of requirements I need to remember when walking.
My right knee constantly locks and because it's not meant to, I need to consciously and continuously keep it bent. I have tried strapping it but much to my physiotherapist's dismay I am still able to straighten my leg, regardless of the intense discomfort of four layers of medical tape on my skin. Bracing it is the next trial.
I also need to learn to walk with a straight back. After a few years of leaning into my frame this is much easier said than done. It is important I always step with my heel first. My left leg and crutch must move simultaneously, my mouth must be shut and my crutch shouldn't make too much noise. It is such an effort to remember all of these guidelines for every step that I take. Can you see why I'm exhausted?
What I can see is that all those around me are working on this same goal and this positive energy keeps me motivated and moving forward.
One day, hopefully in the near future, I would like to use my walking stick as a fashion accessory rather than a constant supporting device. Maybe I could embellish it with some glitter and jewels. Who knows?