Over the years, stairs and I have had a complicated relationship at best. It started when I was young. My old house was a duplex and the stairs didn’t have a railing yet as we had just moved in. I know, I know. What were my parents thinking, not putting in a railing right away when they have a child with a disability that affects her mobility? Well, they weren’t. They should’ve put a railing in immediately but I’ll rant about that another time.
I couldn’t go down the stairs without holding on so I resorted to going down them backwards. Sort of like a backward crawl down. I had it covered. Was it dangerous? Well, it was probably a lot less dangerous than going down the forward way without a railing. I could’ve easily fallen, tumbled down the steps if I went that way. I didn’t really mind it because it was my normal. I didn’t know any different. I mean, sure, my family went down the stairs differently and I noticed that but it was normalized. The same way my “soldier crawl” was normalized when I was a baby. My point is, backwards was just the way I got down the stairs, that’s all. Then my parents finally installed a railing and things got much easier. Hooray!
Flash forward many, many years to yesterday, seemingly just another Thursday. I made an awesome discovery. I noticed I could go down the stairs alternating, or as some may say, going step over step. This is a huge deal. HUGE!
Let me tell you how and why. Pre-SDR, I had such a hard time alternating steps. Part of it was probably due to spasticity, the other because of that same old fear that I’d fall, I’d miss a step, the next step below would melt under my feet and give way. Yes, my anxiety led me to think those thoughts and would stop me from going down the stairs. I’d literally stand there, holding onto the rail and I’d be stuck. Frozen. Trapped. I’d move my feet inches until they reached the edge but then I’d plant them back again. Going back and forth, trying to fight that block in my head. I call it a block because I don’t know what else to call it. I wanted to move my other leg down, so badly. I just couldn’t, or if I did it took many attempts. So I just stuck to moving my left leg down one step at a time.
That’s not the worst of it. I’ve said before that when I was away at college, I really regressed physically. My guess is because I wasn’t walking as much, wasn’t going up and down stairs as much. It got so bad that when I was home on break I’d get stuck on the stairs. Not just standing up and not just for a moment. I’d be stuck for what felt like an eternity and eventually I gave in and went down the stairs sitting. I was sad, seeing how much worse I’d gotten. So sad in fact, it motivated me to go to the gym and strengthen my legs, maybe give back the confidence that was robbed from me. It kind of worked. I say kind of because we all know that the spasticity prevented me from doing any real exercise. Well, not anymore!
Now I can alternate down the stairs and the movement is very smooth, very fluid. I can go down the steps much faster, too–while being safe, of course. I’m so excited that I had my brother film me doing it! Doing so isn’t to brag in any way. It’s just a method to keep track of my progress since the surgery. I’ll admit I was a little self-conscious during the video but whatever! Now I have a record of it.
Also I have to say it’s rather disappointing when others I personally know don’t share in my enthusiasm, especially my family. I’ve hinted at this before but you’d think they’d be in the front row of my cheering section. Well, not necessarily. I get the sense that some family members don’t see what the big deal is. You know what? They’re living under a rock, then. They just don’t get it. Who knows, maybe they take going down the stairs quickly and easily for granted. Sure, it’s sad that some people closest to me misunderstand it so badly but I can either spend time being sad about it, or I can write about it and be productive. Share my joy with others who understand and appreciate it. That’s definitely the best part of it all.