Friday, 4 December 2020

Minding my step

Can't remember when it was - August? September? I'd had a pleasant (three glasses of Primitivo and one of Prosecco) evening in town and returned to Jakubowizna by train. And then the current problem - the direct route to my działka from Chynów station was closed because of the ongoing and never-ending remont. Rather than go round the long (850m detour) and dangerous (unlit road) route, I decided to jump off the end of the platform onto the track. And I sprained my left ankle doing so. 

Experience says - when the horse throws you, get back on. Work through it. So I carried on walking. Ouch at first. And by the time I'd got to the działka, the pain had indeed eased.

The injury reminded itself to me over the next two or three days, and then it subsided. But ever since then, every so often on my walks, I'd stick my left foot into a hole or else it would slip on uneven paving, or catch at large stone, and the pain would shoot back again. This happens when the left foot suddenly twists sideways through more than 30 degrees. It's happened four or five times since that fateful jump. 

On an uneven kerb on ulica Klarnecistów while on my way to the post office. Another day, on a earthen footpath on ul. Sporna on my way back from the post office. Where the asphalt joins the dirt track between Biedronka and ul. Żmijewska. In each case, a sudden stab of pain, anger, hobbling, and a determination to 'get back on the horse'. In each case, by the time I'd got home, the ankle would be a bit sore, but basically all right. It's still not healed 100% though; I can feel that injury when I stretch my left foot clockwise. Ouch again.

What to do?

Doctor A would say: "Mr Dembinski - you are no longer young. If you want your ankle to heal properly, take a break from your daily walks. Six weeks - eight weeks - by then, your torn muscles will have rebuilt. And - you take one of these. Dietary supplement. It will help."

Doctor B would say: "Mr Dembinski - walking is important to your health. Normal walking, that is. Carry on by all means, but avoid risky situations. Walk only on pavements or on asphalt, but not on dirt tracks or uneven surfaces. And don't walk at night. And don't walk so briskly."

Doctor C would say: "Mr Dembinski - keep right on walking. At night, off road - but... BE MINDFUL. Concentrate on what you're doing. Focus on the path ahead. Don't get distracted - no looking at the phone while walking, especially off road. Don't look round at other things while walking off road. Think. Be aware of the risk. You are always walking on the edge of chaos."

I'm listening to Doctor C. Three and half years ago, Doctor A told me to take blood pressure pills for the rest of my life. Three and half years on, my blood pressure remains optimal.

Mindful walking involves constant awareness of potential uneven surfaces. What my eye sees two metres ahead of me, my left foot steps into a second later. Stones, broken pavement, potholes, dog poop. Try this exercise - it's fascinating how your brain coordinates what your eyes see and where your feet land. Walk normally, but look to one side for several seconds. Disconcerting! So focus all the time. Like when you are doing the plank. Your 'tail bone' should be wound down under you. Pelvis at the correct angle, ensuring you are straight from the heel to the shoulder. With every breath in, you reestablish your pose. Continual awareness. [My record - holding the plank for four minutes and 12 seconds today!] 

My mother's advice to us as children was "Quidquid agis, prudenter agas, et respice finem" (whatever you do, do so prudently, and respect/consider the outcome/end) becomes clearer as I get older. Stay mindful, focus on everything you do. Even the simple act of placing one foot in front of the other -something I'm doing on average 11,000 time a day - needs to be done consciously. Otherwise, ouch.

There's something going on here.

It's the same with the plague. Step outside? Yup. With a mask on. Two masks in fact. One (medical) inside another (cloth). Two metres from thoughtless buggers who might be carrying it asymptomatically. With my magic little bottle of spirytus rektyfikowany to wash my hands with should I touch something on which a SARS Cov-2 virus might be lurking.

All I can be sure of is this: Four days ago, I didn't catch Covid. And when the guys from PGE came to chop down trees on my działka last Friday, some in masks, some without.  Might I have caught it today? Yesterday? I don't know YET. But I do know that I am grateful for not having caught it last week. Gratitude is a fundamental part of awareness.

If I should sprain my ankle again, or be swept away by some vulgar little virus, I shall let you know here.

This time five years ago:
I have trod the upward and the downward slope

This time seven years ago:
Giving to charities - in the UK and in Poland

This time ten years ago:
Birdlife in winter

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