on foot

I’m enjoying a lovely weekend at home after quite a tough week in rehab. We’ve been trying to get my foot to move of its own accord. I’ve spent hours thinking about moving the foot muscles; attempting (in vain) to move the foot; watching the foot hang there like a dead clawed-up thing; and trying not to think too much about the prospect of it remaining like that for good. It is difficult stuff. On the positive side, I’ve been using weights in the exercise class, and this really seems to help with the bilateral rhythm. Just giving the left arm something to resist again meant that, by Friday, I was able to move about to “Starship Trooper” and “Kung Fu Fighting” with a modicum of co-ordination. Bingo!

Several other things have felt like real achievements this week. I finished off some socks for Tom. These are the first thing I’ve knitted to completion since having the stroke. I look at them and I see much more than a pair of plain socks in Noro Kureyon (a yarn I will never knit with again). I see the days of effort in which I struggled to make my fingers move and my elbow to support the weight of both my left hand and the knitting. I also see the difficulty of learning a well-known skill from scratch, and the joy of being able to do something I love again. There are hours and hours of many small achievements stitched into this unassuming and uneven pair. Tom likes them very much.

I’ve also been building up my stamina and strength in more ways than one. This morning I decided that I should try to walk to the place where I had the stroke (on one of my familiar paths). I felt it was important to do this: it happened in a place that I am fond of, and I didn’t want to get hung up about it; for it to be somewhere marked with fear and permanently associated with a horrible event. I was worried both about the walking (one and a half miles there and back) and about how I’d feel when I got there. On both scores it was difficult, but I was fine. I stood there and of course I thought a little about how it felt to fall over on a cold February morning after a gun seemed to go off in my head. But I also thought about the many other times I’ve walked there. With its birch trees, its blackbird and blackberry filled hedgerows, its happy views of the allotments, its motley traffic of runners, pedestrians and cyclists, it is a path that I love to walk along and I know that I shall walk along it many times again. And, seriously folks, I walked for one and a half miles! With my gammy leg and my dead foot! And then I came home and slept for two hours.

I also enjoyed a far less taxing walk in the Botanics yesterday. It was marvellous simply to move about in the sunshine encountering so many signs of Spring (I became foolishly excited when we spotted a bee). A garden really is a very healing place in which to spend time, and I am looking forward to wandering in the Botanics with Tom many times again as I recover. I particularly enjoyed photographing the fresh colours and textures in the alpine garden, so here are a few pictures from there to close.