The stair. It’s staring back at me. Like it knows, the first step is the hardest and so it stares at me…waiting.
Even before finishing the typical first session questions and personal history analysis, I had already claimed my ultimate goal for this series of Physical therapy. In a word: stairs. Even before my major eye corrections, and no glasses since July, the tendency to be nervous around stairs started earlier in the spring when my balance began to again decline. By summer, I was no longer trekking the stairs alone and even getting myself down one and a half steps outside the back patio door–grasping the side handle–seemed dangerous enough for me to stop doing that altogether as well. Without help, I am not able to meander outside or get to the basement. My life is the first floor.
My PT thought this was a good goal–but I also need to rebuild strength in the other everyday movements as well…even simple exercises of properly standing from my chair was enough to leave me heaving in large breaths. I am still needing to be mindful of my posture. After the workout and instructions on which exercises I am to daily repeat until she returns next week, she asked if I wanted to try the basement stairs.
When she had first arrived in the morning, I was seated at the dining room table organizing my new “care kit” container for the inside of my walker; a little compartment to hold a few items I use often, such as, safety scissors, a notepad and pen, my phone and ChapStick and a few snacks. Marcia recommended the idea to me after my OT session, partly because she saw my sincere struggle to open a zip-lock bag to retrieve my muffin the day before. I could have stood from the table and retrieved a pair of scissors from the other side of the kitchen, but I decided to do it the hard way.
Off to the side of my “care kit,” I was finishing my morning coffee in my thermos, all decor in the Denver Broncos logo. As PT first began, we talked about getting my stitches out and how my leg felt overall and I brought up the stairs again, as I also pointed out my thermos with a bit of anticipation: “It doesn’t matter to my family, but the NFL season has started and I have not even been able to watch any games. I mean, I even missed the opening Broncos versus Colts game!” My hands flying in the air as I make my point–entertainment is downstairs. It isn’t just football, but painting as well. So when she finally asked if I was ready to try, my achy body re-surged and I gave a few victory pumps of the arms in the air and said, “Yep!”
We locked my walker by the stairs and I sat on the seat watching as my PT showed me a new way to try going down the stairs, instead of the typical–hold he rail with right hand and brace myself with the wall on the left. I am one, whether going to sit, stand, or stairs, to grip with both hands. It makes me feel more secure, because often I don’t feel how I am griping the handles or rails. Often, I recheck the position of my curled fingers to make sure my grasp is as accurate as possible. Because the basement stairs only has the one rail, she wanted me to try going sideways, holding the railing with both hands. I position myself and she is right there with me. I move my foot closer to the edge and gaze down. It’s just one step and it is staring at me. In that moment, I begin to shake and tears come. She helped me sit back down and when I was ready, we did the stairs in the garage.
I am not sure why it is just the basement stairs…why I almost fear them. My PT said we’ll continue working on ideas and building my confidence to take that first step, because once I do, there is no turning back.
Cause I’m not who I was
When I took my first step
And I’m clinging to the promise
You’re not through with me yet
So if all of these trials bring me closer to You
I will go through the fire
If You want me to
~Ginny Owens, “If You Want Me To”