Friday, September 26, 2008

Rehab progress 9

Fear of falling.

I have never suffered much from it -- before now.

I was reminiscing about good old days, hiking in the remote California Sierra Mountains. The area we used to hike was accessed along the Kern River canyon. It was a very deep canyon, and the trail descended through the tall pines as it neared the bottom. We used to stand at the edge, enjoying the canyon breezes whistling through the tall trees, on the way down from Red's Meadow.

I cannot think of teetering on the edge now, without a thrill of fear. My balance is mostly hypothetical these days, and I walk a dangerous path, even when the ground is level and there are no obstructions.

Everything imaginable conspires to trip me up. I cannot shuffle along with any confidence. Every step portends another wrenching fall. Thankfully, there is usually something nearby to grab for. I rescue in the nick of time, so often that it becomes routine. Passerbys look at me and wonder if I am all right. Of course I am not. I walk like a drunken man. The least thing upsets my precarious balance.

Today, I went with friends to collect firewood for the winter season. It is usually a fun expedition. Today it was a rather mixed proposition. Put together a man who can barely hold himself, trying to operate a power saw, in the forest where branches loom everywhere. I fell down more times than I care to count. Fortunately, I did not injure myself seriously.

Maybe I need to rethink this kind of thing, leave it for people who are more comfortable working so hard.


vigil said...

I was paralyzed for some time when I came back from Vietnam, and the terror of falling--not from losing my balance but from being handled by people and being helpless even to lift an arm to break my fall--shocked me with its intensity.

I had always been so unconsciously confident in my body. . .

You are doing good work here, talking so plainly and honestly about what it's like. You keep bringing me back to things I know I'm not through understanding. . .

pgk said...

What virgil said. I wish I'd said that. Didn't I say that?

I should have.

Jim Cobabe said...

Vigil and others,

I appreciate that you have taken the time to read what I said. I am making my way through the darkness, one step at a time, the best I can. It is reassuring to learn that I am not alone in my challenges -- that others share my struggles and concerns, to some degree.

I will continue writing. Perhaps we will eventually arrive together at some common destination.

Keep trying.

Bill Cobabe - Mont Belvieu City Planner said...

You wrote:

Maybe I need to rethink this kind of thing, leave it for people who are more comfortable working so hard.

That's the motto of my life. This last weekend I finally (with the help of my neighbor) pushed back up into place the fence that had been blown crooked by the hurricane. He works outside most of the time, so he was used to the work. I, on the other hand, became fatigued quickly... It was a little embarassing. On the other hand, with a desk job I get to sit around all day with no worries. I don't have to worry about things falling on me and killing me, chemical spills, getting run over by a truck, etc. My family appreciates that.