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The Frustration of Freezing Gait on a Freezing Day

Posted Jan 29 2010 10:57am
A s I write this, it’s 31 degrees outside. That’s about as warm as it’s been this year so far. It’s been cold and windy and not much fun for someone who hates the cold to be stuck outside.

Unfortunately, walking with me these days means getting stuck.  Outside.

Gail and I just got back from the store where we bought some lunch.  Because of our uneven sidewalk, I always tend to freeze up when walking to the car.  (Thank goodness for Gail and my walker — they keep me from falling.)  When we got to the store, I found myself freezing up every few steps.

I try not to even think about the terrain.  I try to make each step as automatic as possible.  And it works, too!  For about 5 or six strides.  Then, I go to raise my foot for the next step and… nothing.  Same for the other foot.  I’m generally able to unstick myself by letting the walker roll forward just a little bit, and then I can follow it.

But on a windy, freezing late morning in a grocery store parking lot… freezing of gait also means freezing of mate!  (I almost wrote Freezing of Gait means Freezing of Gail… but I think I like the previous version better.  How about you?)

It’s OK when I freeze up in the store.  We’re inside.  It’s warm.  But to and from the car as the winter winds blow and howl (and sometimes, it’s the wind itself that makes me freeze up…), it’s frustrating on several levels.  One, I know my wife hates the cold even more than I do.  And she waits, patiently, for me to unstick myself.  I would tell her to go on ahead and get into the car, but I know she wouldn’t do that.  She has this idea that she can stop me if I fall… which is true if she catches me just as I start to tilt (which I did, going into the store and we hit an upslope and I leaned backwards and my walker started to roll backwards — but I was able to grab a cement post to steady myself).  Many is the time when I’ve frozen up, started to tilt one way or the other and Gail has braced herself against me to stop the fall.  God, how I love her.

Anyhoo…

It’s all part of the colorful tapestry that is Parkinson’s disease.  Along with tripping over dogs, having trouble getting out of bed in the morning (and I mean that PHYSICALLY, not cuz I’m tired), the hassle of trying to roll over in bed, missing the car seat with my butt when I try to sit down, bumping into the wall in a narrow passage, needing an alarm to remind me to take my pills throughout the day, needing help to get out of a chair, having to sit while taking a shower, not being able to close my eyes while standing cuz I’ll fall, being careful not to tilt my head too far backwards when taking a drink cuz I’ll lose my balance, having to take little steppy steps to turn around instead of just pivoting, not being able to back up without falling, inhaling little hunks of food into my windpipe, having a runny nose all damn day, zoning out at the computer when I’m supposed to be working, forgetting what the hell it was that I was just about to do, having the “stares” (one reason why I stopped driving — I will focus on something outside and STARE at it until I realize I’m doing it and stop myself) and my general stumblebummery.

But hey… it’s nice and warm in the house!  And lunch was good.

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