I can’t believe I am blogging. It’s pushing my “You’re so self-indulgent” button, but I’m forging ahead, despite what my critic keeps yelling in my ear…. “Who cares about what you have to say?” “Who the hell do you think you are?”
Actually I’m a woman who has lived with a prosthetic leg for 32 years. And for the past 2 years and 3 months I’ve had a very hard time walking. I can walk around the house, the office, the grocery store, but the mall? Around the neighborhood? Pain. And who invites pain? I don’t. So I don’t walk more than what’s required of me throughout the normal course of a day.
But I started a workshop this weekend in which I had to commit to a goal. A Big goal. A Stretch. And while I have pain because of the fit of my prosthetic leg, I still want to walk. I have been avoiding walking for a long time because of the physical pain and because of the emotional pain. I hate that walking is hard. I hate that I’ve become such a wimp. And, ultimately, I hate that I don’t have a leg. But that’s usually only when I walk. And try on cute clothes.
So my goal is to walk my daughter to school, drop her off and walk back home. One mile. By February 26th – seven weeks from now. In order to reach that goal I committed to walking 10 minutes the first week and increase my time by 5 minutes each week. I know I need to build my strength and confidence back up.
It’s hard to let go of my judgments about this goal. What a wimp I have become. Other people in the workshop are doing 5 or 10 k runs. I’m just trying to walk a lousy mile.
I just returned from my first walk. I underestimated myself. I knew I wanted to walk the only hill in the neighborhood. I took me ten minutes just to get to the hill and go down. Granted, not all of that was walking. At least one time each block I have to stop to alleviate my pain. The pain is because my residual limb (most people call it a “stump”; I used to call it a “stump”, but I simply can’t do that anymore. It reminds me of a tree that’s been hacked away. Yes, my leg was whacked off, but I don’t need to conjure that image up every time I talk about it. Besides, “residual limb” has an air of sophistication to it.) doesn’t relax when I walk, the muscle stays contracted. The pain starts off as mild discomfort and increases until it’s truly painful. I stop walking, allow the muscle to relax and start the process over again. Block by block.
Then I had to climb the hill and walk back home which took another ten minutes. On the way back home I walked more slowly, partly to slow down how quickly the pain returned. “What’s the point?” I asked my husband, “If I walk this slowly, does it benefit me at all?” I was embarrassed when he pointed out that I was breathing heavily – indicating that my heart rate is up. What a wimp. But I felt like a winner. I walked twenty minutes instead of ten on my first day out in a long time.