My daughter knows I am not able to pick her up from a standing position or hold and carry her while standing. She does know though that I can pick her up and hold her while sitting. The other day she was sitting on a bar stool and wanted me to help her down even though she's perfectly capable of climbing down on her own. When I walked over to her she pointed to a dining chair, wanting me to sit down to help her. Or sometimes she will lead me by the hand over to the couch or a chair so I can pick her up. I am often touched by how understanding and considerate she is. But most of the time, when she asks to be picked up, I will simply just get down on the floor wherever we are and let her crawl onto my lap. Sometimes, in the middle of preparing dinner, I will stop and sit down or kneel on the kitchen floor to hold her.
When I was in college, several years ago now, I used to walk all over campus no problem. Even just a couple of years ago I could go shopping on my own, walking across streets and parking lots were not a problem. But just within the past couple of years I have developed a “fear of concrete” and I’m pretty sure it’s getting worse. I contribute my inability to walk on concrete to a lack of practice and exercise, but it is also mental. Now I can't even walk from my car to my office on my own unless there is NO ONE around that might be looking at me and even then sometimes I freeze. I get nervous and freeze when I think someone is watching me, I freeze when I fear I might fall. I freeze when there are cars around because I fear I might fall in front of a car. My muscles tense, my legs stiffen up, causing my balance to become worse, and I literally can not move. I haven't fallen down yet but if I freeze suddenly half-way between my car and the office it takes me a really long, awkward time to get to the side of the building to touch for balance,. And once I make it the 20 feet to my office and relax, my legs, because of stiffening up, feel like Jello, like I’ve walked a flight of stairs a hundred times. It's maddening. But I refuse to start using a walker because I’m afraid that I'll become dependent on it and then never be able to walk alone anywhere.
A few weeks ago I went to my doctor for back pain. I have never really dealt with much pain, if any, as a result of my cerebral palsy. I think the back pain was a result of sitting wrong at my computer at work or lifting my 30 lbs two-year-old. My doctor asked me if I would be interested in physical therapy. I said yes, and that is when I told her about my difficultly walking.
I went to my first physical therapy appointment 4 weeks ago.. Boy did it bring back memories from childhood.
The physical therapy department is in a different building than my doctor’s office. One I had never been to before. The disabled parking is across from the entrance rather than the side of the building. I was doing okay walking until a vehicle came and stopped for me to cross. I got nervous, stiffened up, and looked like an 90 yr old trying to cross the street. I made it to the sidewalk and there were 2 guys on the sidewalk coming toward me. I asked if one of them could please assist me to the main sidewalk (I still had to cross where the sidewalk split for a small driveway). He helped me and then asked if I wanted help to the entrance. I said I would be fine and thanked him so much. Well, I wasn't fine because I already felt like I had caused a scene and now everyone was watching me. A woman walking into the building asked if I needed help and I said that I guess I did. Someone near the entrance had seen me and came over with a WHEEL CHAIR!!! LOL! OMG! Now I was totally embarrassed and I told him that and that I really didn't need it. But he was kind and insisted so I sat down in it and he pushed me to check-in. I assured him I would be fine once in the building. He said it would be no big deal if I wanted to be wheeled to my appointment, that he was just waiting for his wife, and wanted to make sure I would be okay. I stood up to check-in and thanked him over and over and said that no I wouldn't need assistance. I was fine after checking in and walked up to my appointment without any difficulty.
I told my physical therapist this and she said that yes, she could help me with my balance, but that she is not psychologist but it sounds like I have developed an anxiety about concrete. I agree with her because I know that part of it is mental. Part of it is a lack of confidence. Four years ago I suddenly was afraid to drive this one stretch of highway. Nothing had changed. It was all in my mind. I would get scared, stiffen up, making it difficult to drive. It lasted about a month and suddenly, as fast as my fear had developed, it was gone and I could drive this particular stretch with confidence and comfort again. I think this is somewhat similar mentally, yet also different because this is also physical. I just don’t exercise or walk as much as I used to. Surprisingly I had better balance when I was pregnant. And prior to that I was going to the gym and exercising fairly regularly, and getting out of the house more. I’ve had two physical therapy appointments thus far but I rescheduled the one this week because I hadn’t done any of the exercises in 2 weeks. It’s time to schedule exercising into my day, work on my balance and my strength, and beat this!