The 1/2 mile decline: reaccepting old limitations

When I moved into my apartment, I didn’t even consider walking to the grocery store.  Even if I could have walked the 1/2 mile there, I knew I couldn’t carry groceries home.  So I drove to the store.

Over the years, I increased my walking.  I finally got to where I could walk that distance.  Then I worked on carrying.  The day I carried a quart of milk home I was ecstatic.  When I carried home 1/2 gallon of milk, I could hardly believed it.  I still drove to the store when I had to get a lot of heavy things, but when I just needed a few items, I could walk!  It even got the point where I didn’t think too much of the walk.  It was an effort, of course, but it was very doable.  As long as I was having a good day, I knew I could do it.

My recent decline has been tough.  I’m trying to continue to get at least some exercise, like short walks and running errands.  Today was 60 degrees and sunny with a slight breeze.  Perfect.  I needed just a few things at the store, so I headed that way.  Halfway there, I was exhausted.  I wanted to come home and get the car.  No, forget that.  I wanted to come home and sit on the couch!  I pushed myself, though, and made it to the store, stopping just before I got there to sit on a bench for a few minutes.  Walking through the store took much more effort than I’m used to.  By the time I paid for my groceries, they felt surprisingly heavy.  I sat on a bench again for a few minutes before I left the store.  Then it was time to trek home.

The walk home felt longer than I remembered it being.  Did the street stretch out?  I just kept putting one foot carefully in front of the other.  I stepped over the tree roots pushing up the sidewalk, felt bad for the 3-legged cat that was meowing piteously, thought about how much I wanted to sit down.  When I got home, refrigerated stuff when in the fridge, the rest was left on the counter, and my butt went to the couch.  I had to rest for a long time to get over that.

I’m glad I pushed myself (well, I say that today; I’ll have to see how I feel tomorrow.)  It felt good to get some fresh air.  My knees hurt less after I’d walked for a while.  I know it was good for me.  But emotionally, it was tough to realize just how much I’ve declined.  It took so long to build up to that simple walk, and now it’s been snatched away from me so damn quickly.  I’m not ready for that.  I could accept that I wouldn’t improve more.  I was ok with that, actually.  No, really, I accepted that years ago.  But I could not,  I can not, accept getting worse, especially not so soon.  I always knew it would happen “someday,” that mythological day in the distant future.  I’m not ready for it now.  Not yet.  So I’ll do the only thing I know how to do: I’ll accept it so that I can fight it.  I may fail, but at least I’ll try.

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