I rarely walk straight for more than a few feet. Even with my walker, I still walk pretty “drunkenly!”
This is based on two, or three things. Let’s examine.
If the surface is flat and uncluttered, I walk pretty straight-ish.
But, if there is something on the floor, and I don’t see it, and I step on it, I lose some balance! Next, if I do see the object on the floor and attempt to step over it, whether it is a sleeping dog, an empty bottle of wine, backpacks, pumpkins all in a row, my balance is off and I usually do fall. Its called overstepping, many people can do it with ease. I cannot.
Stoppages: When I am walking and suddenly stop, I either forgot something in the other room, or someone tapped me on my shoulder. If this happens, and it does, I usually walk into something. Because I am unable to quickly stop at the drop of the hat.
Beach Walking: When the surface is not flat, such as sand, rocks, gravel, etc, I can still walk yet not as smoothly as others. The pressure of my feet makes the sand move, and so there goes the balance. I try to avoid those. Have you tried to walk between sunbathers at a popular beach? With towels and pails and kids building sand castles and holes, the non-ataxian could do it smoothly. Yet, I am not so nimble!
Now we come to the point of this article…
Eye Gaze: It is my habit to walk with my head down, focusing on the pavement. I’ve walked that way since my teens, I remember complenting on styles of pavement way back in in the mid 80s. I remember talking to an O&M specialist from CNIB about this, as I was getting some support back then. And I mentioned that I wanted to make sure I saw what I was walking on. Back then, in then and in the community I lived in, most of the roads did not have sidewalks… and there were ditches… I fell into some with big spiders … and there was a dead cat… and … oh sorry! I ran off topic…
I do walk straighter when my eyes are downcast, I am not distracted. Yet, when I do look up, while walking, and something my eye: a fancy car, a store, a child, or just anything, I would actually swerve in that direction!
Picture this: it is a nice afternoon, the sun is out, the air is warm. I am walking to the bus stop, I am studying the pavement, as I usually do, and then I look up and see a gaggle of girls walking towards me on my left. I’d probably swerve into them. Oops! Pardon me! I probably scared the crap out of them! Luckily I have my white can with me! Or I’d be in the slammer a lot more often that I have been. Which is never!
Dropped Hat: When I do drop something and pick it up, I used to do it with flair and finesse. Now I do it with falls and flops! Yikes! I need to have a device to pick things up with! But first I need to pick this thing up!
Okay, this article was started in mid November, I am finishing it now!
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