My current indisposed state dates to late spring and early summer. I was foolish enough to think I could use the days of autumn to recover, and then winter would be its usual annoying self, but no worse than usual.

Came December, and I'm nowhere close to being back to normal; I can take only a few steps without losing my balance, and it's probably a good thing I got rid of the old Toyota Celica when I did, since I can't drive a stick anymore to save my life. Most days I'm doing exceptionally well just getting myself into the driver's seat without incident.

The first hint, though, that winter would prove troublesome came on the first morning with a temperature below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. I dug my trusty old jacket out of the closet, poked one arm into the sleeve — and then I couldn't find the other sleeve. Wherever it was, it wasn't near my actual arm. I peeled off the jacket and tried again; on the third try I managed to get myself into both sleeves, though the jacket's back was a good foot and a half higher than my actual back. I'd had trouble reaching upward from time to time, but this is the first time it presented any issues with getting dressed. (Which is not to say this is the first problem I'd had getting dressed; pulling up anything pantlike over both legs remains difficult, due to the same issue that affects auto pedals: no flexibility at the knees or ankles.) I should have anticipated this, since drawing on my robe to answer the door presents the same stretching issue, and I don't think the world, or my section of it anyway, is quite prepared for me to leave the robe behind.

When I got home from the hospital, the kids bought me a weird-looking apparatus that provides a grab-hold on either side of the toilet, about 18 inches above the top of the bowl. This works, kinda sorta, though that one day when I fell down on the edge of the bathtub, hanging on for dear life to those bars actually broke the toilet. And sometime in the last couple of weeks, I seem to have messed up the seat.

None of these things is exactly winter-specific. We're running about 50 percent below normal on snowfall, and temperatures this month have ranged from -3°F to 79°F — four days apart. As a result of this weird weather, I haven't had to face shoveling snow, although I can't make it down the driveway on foot anymore. (A kindly neighbor has been setting out my trash bin once a week.) Still, spring is a long way off, and so is returning to a Normal Life. Spring, at least, has a chance of showing up on schedule. I worry that I may be forced into a walker, or worse, for the rest of my life.

The Vent

  26 January 2017

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