The Gift of Going for a Walk

I’ve disappeared from the blog-o-sphere for past few weeks. In fact, I’ve disappeared from quite a bit of life but with good reason. You see, about three weeks ago I was laying in bed watching Netflix when suddenly I had a broken ankle. Seriously, that is the truth no matter how strange it sounds. It’s not clear how my ankle was broken, but as I was diagnosed with epilepsy about six years ago, there’s a good chance I had a seizure. I don’t have seizures often, maybe two or three a year. Usually they just leave me with a headache and a sore tongue, but this one didn’t give me a headache at all, didn’t really hurt my tongue either, but it impacted me in other ways. That is, of course, if it was a seizure. There’s still the possibility that it was my dog jumping up on the bed and landing on me. My memory suggests that may have been what happened. My dog’s size, about 35 lbs, makes it pretty impressive that he could cause that kind of damage.

It’s been an interesting journey. The injury happened Monday night. When the pain wasn’t gone and there was some swelling, I decided to go into urgent care on Tuesday. The staff were pretty amazed that I was walking on a broken ankle. I was a bit surprised to learn it was actually broken.

They gave me a cool moon boot and crutches and sent me home to rest. I slept for about a week. It is amazing how much energy it takes to heal. That first week really sleeping was almost all I did. By week two the swelling was down enough that it was time for surgery. I thought with just a block of anesthetic behind my knee that I might get to experience the operation in a conscious state. I didn’t. I slept. Then I spent the night in the hospital so they might monitor for seizure activity. There was none. I did learn that I do not like percocet. Heavy duty painkillers are horrible things. I took it once and refused it thereafter. I really didn’t have any significant pain. At that point, I actually couldn’t feel my foot at all yet so it made no sense to me how the hospital staff kept trying to push painkillers that set my motion sickness into high gear. I couldn’t move without feeling nauseous.

After a few more days at home with my foot up I returned to the doctor and got the okay to return to work with my walker. That’s been the true gift. Before this accident I walked to work, and most everywhere else, every day. In my little town of about 5,000 people, I would typically put on one to five miles a day just doing what I needed to do. Right now, walking a block with my walker is significant exercise. My ankle is healing fast and I’m hoping to get back to a more normal routine in the next month or two, but this is where I am right now.

I find myself thinking a lot of some old friends who taught me about accessibility from their wheelchairs. I am especially thinking of Mark. He was a volunteer when I worked for the Grassroots Leadership College. He had severe physical limitations. I remember him apologizing once when he was late for his shift. He told us how when it was raining the bus drivers would often pass him by. They didn’t want to get wet helping him board the bus. That was just one little example of how the world treated his disability. There were too many others. Eventually, he had enough. He rolled himself down to the lake, propelled his body out of his chair, and landed face down in the water and ended his time being discriminated against.

My experience is nothing like his, but it has been a gift to look at accessibility issues and at how I see myself in this world of varying abilities.

First, I kind of have to laugh at myself. I found myself thinking the other day, as I was trying to open a heavy door without losing my balance, “this would really suck if I really had a disability!” Okay, now I am traveling around on eight screws and a plate, using a moon boot and a walker, because of a broken ankle that was quite likely caused by a seizure. Some might say I have a disability. I don’t really identify with that. It doesn’t make much sense to me. So, there is that, the whole question of what is it to have a disability in the first place? Who gets to decide who has a disability? Why do they have that power?

Then, I have to say “god bless the elders who do this in snow or on hills!” I live in Minnesota so I am thankful that my injury didn’t happen just a few weeks later. Did you know that if you hit a crack in the sidewalk your walker might veer off the wrong direction? Or did you realize that walkers really don’t have very good brakes and can start speeding along on even the slightest incline? I have the gift of being an in shape and strong middle aged woman. I can handle these challenges pretty easily. But, it’s tough for me to imagine what it’s like to use a walker if you don’t have the upper body strength or the sense of balance.

I’ve fallen a couple of times since I broke my ankle. I’ve been able to lean into my fall and land gently. Still, I think to myself what more damage could have done to the already broken spot? Or, thinking again of our elders, I wonder about my hips. It seems that for too many the broken hip is the kiss of death. I have two small steps going into my house. Normally, I barely notice them. Now I realize that they could kill someone.

I’m learning the little things about accessibility from a different perspective and it’s good for me, good for us, to know. One of my first lessons was on my first day back to work. I had to go to the HR office to drop off some files about the incident. HR is on the second floor of Behmler Hall. I’ve worked on campus two years, but don’t go to Behmler all that much. I knew there was an elevator, but I wasn’t sure where.

The bus dropped me off not far from the front entries to the building. It was then I really noticed that both of the main entries have stairs. I had to go down the hill alongside the building to come in a back door to find the elevator. Going down the hill I was thanking my lucky stars that there wasn’t any ice yet and wondering how people make that trek in winter. I also thought about how I’ve been on campus for two years and I had to search to find my way. I wondered about people coming to campus for the first time. How can you feel welcomed if you can’t come in the door?

Thinking of doors, I never really realized before how heavy doors can be. I also never really noticed how often there are buttons on exterior doors to open them, but once you’re in a building interior doors often don’t have that access tool. The building that I work in has, what I had always thought were accessible restrooms. They’re big with room to turn a wheelchair, the sink, soap, and hand dryers at good height. I think there’s even a bar to help getting on and off the toilet. But, those doors are heavy as heck when you’re balancing on one leg and using a wheeled device for mobility.

My experience thus far has been a simple one and there hasn’t been much that I can’t find a way around. I have been given the gift of hearing stories though. I know that there are people on campus who’ve not taken on roles that would both benefit them professionally and benefit the campus community because of the challenges of access in some of our campus buildings.

Sometimes people fight for access and sometimes they decide to just take a different route in life because we can’t all be fighters all the time. Sometimes we just need to live.

I encourage my friends to notice the steps, think about the weight of the door, look at where the furniture is placed, acknowledge the shelves and where supplies are kept. Note these things. Decide for yourself what is acceptable and change what is not.

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The End of the Challenge

Well, so I will admit that I disappeared for a while. I’ll also admit that wasn’t good. I haven’t been eating like I should. There’s been too much pizza and snack foods and not enough light and healthy vegetables. The result has been an additional 5 lbs.

I can feel it in how I’m breathing. I can feel it in my mood. I am just starting to feel the edge of sadness. I need to get back on track and it’s a tough time to do that. I got offered a new job and I got an interview for another position. So, right now I am finding myself waiting and deciding which of two very different roles might be the right one for me. I am getting to ask myself about my values. I’m getting to ask myself what I need and what I want. I’m in a space of making hard decisions.

I need my health to help and not hinder my ability to make good choices. So, I will keep trying. I will move forward. I have learned from this experience and I will take that learning with me.

There will be more posts to come. I hope you’ll keep reading.

60 Days and Where Am I?

So, I’ve not been entering my blog posts as religiously as I was for quite a while in this exercise. It doesn’t mean that I’ve given up, not at all.

I think what I have done is made a regular habit of be conscious of the fruits and vegetables that I am putting into my body. I don’t always get the full 6-9 cups, but I am always getting at least three which is more than a daily serving. I feel good about what I am accomplishing.

Things are busy with work picking up at the university and my considerations of moving back to Wisconsin. Still, I am eating well over all and getting out to be social and exercise as well. This weekend I got to spend time with my brother and sister-in-law who I normally only see once or twice a year. It was a great day at the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion. It’s really amazing how many people attend it each year. It’s just such a delightfully innocent, old-fashioned, simple kind of fun. And, this year it was filled with laughter and stories from our growing up years. Yesterday and today were for hiking. Buddy and I probably put in about eight miles at our nearby state parks. He loved it! It amazed me how after walking four or five miles yesterday he was ready to run when we stopped by the dog park. He played with friends for over an hour! Tonight, he’s a bit more relaxed. I suspect that it’s due to the flea and tick and heart worm preventative medicines.

All of these things, along with taking my supplements and drinking lots of water, and offering prayer each day are helping me feel my best. It is a good life and I am thankful.

Day 54

It’s a journey, but I am getting back on track.

This morning started with a bowl of blueberries and banana with a bit of almond milk. Last night I cooked up a couple chicken breasts with squash, beans, and tomatoes. So a bit of that was lunch. Before dinner I walked out to my garden. It’s a bit of an overwhelming and neglected space. I came home with a big bag full of squash, cucumbers, some sort of little red peppers, and tomatoes. Dinner was scrambled eggs with peppers and tomatoes with a side of cucumbers with hummus. Dessert was blueberries, strawberries, and bananas with a bit of almond milk.

It was the healthiest mix of food that I’ve had in about two weeks. With that and the students returning to campus I am feeling in a better state of mind than I have been in the last week or so. It is good. Now, to keep it going again and see what great things can happen.

51 Days and I’m Back

Okay, so I disappeared there for eleven days. I went home to Wisconsin for a few days and used the excuse of a vacation to not pay a whole lot of attention to tracking my fruits and veggies. I still ate pretty good for the most part though I did indulge in some sweets and definitely took on some of Wisconsin’s greatest cheese and beer. I would strongly recommend the raspberry tart beer from New Glarus. That’s saying a lot since I’m really not much of a beer fan.

I haven’t gotten back on track fully yet even after a week back in Minnesota. There’s still sugar in my system and I’ve not fully backed away from it. I’m not fully back up to 6-9 cups of fruits and vegetables though I am getting some. I just added in some coconut oil and started a turmeric supplement today. I’m hoping that this stuff will help heal my brain.

I am seeing the need to get away from sugar again and just get back on track. I’ve been feeling grumpy the last few days and need to revive. I am putting lots of work into my next adventure. Sending off my applications and hoping to get back to Wisconsin soon. But, meanwhile this is home and there must be joy here somewhere.

40 Days, Over Halfway There

Okay, I admit it. I didn’t measure my food today. I operated visually. I need to get back to measuring to assure my accuracy.

I don’t think I hit six cups today, but I was close. I started the day with my fruit with almond milk. Had a lunch of pizza and a large salad. Dinner was plenty of refried beans with tomatoes and and some chips. So, not a great health food wonder day, but it wasn’t horrible either. For years my typical days had cereal, grilled cheese, and pasta with sauce from a jar pretty often. Today had some green stuff. Heck, it had multiple colors of fruits and vegetables. I feel okay about that. It was kind of slacker, but kind of good caring too. That’s an okay thing to do.

The Question of the 39th Day

39 days in to this challenge to increase my fruits and vegetables intake and I’m doing well with getting at least six cups a day. Since I added in an effort to increase my water intake a couple weeks ago I’ve been mostly doing better on that too though the last couple days I’ve probably been running a bit dry. I can feel the dull headache now and need to get myself a couple more cups. I’m not doing well on decreasing the number of times I go out for pizza or the amount that I eat. I am going out to other restaurants less though.

That brings me to the question. I’ve been having a tough time at my work for quite a while now, but it ebbs and flows. Recently, it’s been quite frustrating and I’ve found myself feeling my self-confidence ebb away and just generally feeling down. Then, I go out for pizza. I find myself wondering– is it the fact that I am feeling worn, beaten by my workplace, and just down on myself that leads me to eating something that I know isn’t good for me and that doesn’t even taste as good as the many homemade dishes that I can treat myself with or is that I am eating something that doesn’t taste all that good and isn’t good for me that is pushing me into feeling down, worn and beaten? It is that circle, much like the cycle of addiction I suppose. So how do I get out?