How Do You Take a Walk?

I had a physical a few weeks ago, and my doctor asked me, “How do you take a walk?”

I looked at her as if she was a lunatic. “I have vertigo. Why would I voluntarily take a walk?”

“For exercise?”

“I have the gym and Erik the super-strong trainer for that.”

“But don’t you need to walk for exercise?”

I explained that I walk as little as possible outdoors. Sidewalks have cracks, holes, bumps, and are uneven. We started talking about how I do walk and I explained about my travel canes which fold into the seat in front of me on the plane and my regular adjustable canes which don’t fold. She suggested I use walking sticks when I walk around town, that maybe I could walk more with sticks. I explained I only use sticks for the beach and in the snow when I’m with other people.

The problem with sticks is that when you want to open a door, you have to hold onto two sticks in one hand. When you have vertigo, that can throw you off-balance. At least, it does for me. Sticks aren’t heavy, but two in one hand are awkward. How do you open a heavy door with two sticks in one hand?

Here’s an example of how sticks would have been a problem. A few weeks ago at Agile 2011, I was at the Little America hotel in Salt Lake City, a “short walk across the street” from the Grand America hotel. It was 4 lanes of traffic, two in each direction, with street car tracks in the middle. For normal people, that’s a piece of cake, easily manageable in the 20 seconds the traffic lights give you. For me, it’s a challenge. Sticks would have stuck in the street car tracks. And, there were no open-sesame doors at the hotels. Seriously, there were door-people, but no automatic door openers for the doors at the hotels. So, if you entered or exited the hotels early or late, or the door-people were busy, you had to get the door yourself. The doors were heavy. Impossible with two sticks. Barely possible with one cane.

Walking is a challenge in airports and in malls. I already discussed the phone-thumbers. And, there are the children and adults who think they can out-walk me, just because I have a cane. They assume I have no Erik the super-strong trainer, and no BrainPort. Ha! I have them fooled. I have one tiny problem. Once I get going, I’m not so good at stopping. So I have to be careful of people who think they can cut in front of me and stop, because they see the cane and think I’m slow. I’m not slow once I get going. I’m slow to stop or turn. Oops.

But walking for exercise? No thank you. I need to control my environment. The outside is too wild and wooly for me. Give me a gym or a dance floor for exercise. And, yes, I’ll explain how the heck I dance in my next “how do you.”

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