I am a dreamer. I dream almost every night. Sometimes, I have highly imaginative, vivid dreams. Some of my dreams are bizzare and unexplainable. My favorite dreams, however, are about the most ordinary activity that you can think of. Something so utterly commonplace, people do it every day, reflexively wihtout thinking.
In my dreams, I walk. This is not an exceptional task. People walk everywhere, everyday. They walk inside their homes, up and down stairs, to their kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms. They walk to their cars, through the grocery store, to the bus stop.
I had a dream the other night that I was walking through a park with an old friend of mine. We just walked and talked. At one point, I realized during the dream that I was walking pain free and it was the most remarkable feeling of freedom that I almost cried.
In real life, walking for me is difficult. I have a crushed L5 joint in my spine. My sacrum (base of my spine) is off center, which I found out a few years ago is a birth defect that I never knew that I had. I have bone spurs in my feet, asthma, and as we all know, I am morbidly obese. The first four problems would probably be manageable, but the excess weight I carry make the pain of standing and walking almost unbearable.
I do walk short distances. I have to stop and sit to rest my back and catch my breath often. Standing in one place is almost an impossibility. Going to the grocery store, waiting in line at the bank, and walking to the bus stop are all very slow and painful activites for me.
I am often too embarrassed to go to public events. Concerts, fairs, and summer festivals are very difficult for me. In recent years, I’ve stopped going to big events like this. I always have to think about how far I will have to walk. Will there be places for me to stop and sit? How will the people I am with feel about this? Will they be embarassed to be seen with me? Will they be understanding of my situation? Will they think I deserve all of the pain and difficulty I suffer because it is my fault I am so big? I also don’t like to be a drag on their fun. They are capable of donig so much more than me and I will only hold them back.
I wasn’t always like this. When I weighed close to 200 instead of 300 pounds, I could walk everywhere. Yes, I had minor pain, but that pain did not stop me.
Let me give you an example. I had a friend come to visit me in DC and she wanted to see the monuments. We took the metro into DC. We exited the Metro at the McPhereson Square station and walked to the White House. We did a walking tour of the White House. We then walked from there to the Washington Monument. Then we walked to the Capitol Building and took a tour there. We decided we wanted to see the Senate in session so we took the underground Capitol train to the Senate Office buildings and picked up some free tickets from my state’s Senate or Congress office. I don’t remember which. (That is a benefit that every US citizen can take advantage of once a year.) We stood in line for a long time and finally made it in to see the Senate in session. After we left there, we walked from the Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial. While we were there, we saw the Vietnam Wall and the Korean Memorial. Then we walked from there up 23rd Street to Georgetown where we hopped on the Foggy Bottom Metro to head home. Then we went out for pizza with friends. We did all of that in one day. Oh to be young and relatively pain free.
Just so that you can see some of the distance we walked, here is a link to the National Mall.
Here is a better example. I drew a red line to indicate our walking route. Click the link to the google map to see the monuments.
I think just the distance between the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial is two miles each way. I could be wrong though.
As you can see, I did not always have a problem walking. It came on slowly as I gained weight. When I was living in Arizona, I became very allergic to everything there and limited my outdoor exposure. My allergist also had to give me steroids sometimes to counter the allergic reactions, which of course helped me gain more weight. Because of the pain I experience, exercise is very difficult. Therefore, losing weight is also very difficult.
It is my hope that after my gastric by-pass surgery I will lose enough weight to allow me to start walking and exercising more to rebuild my strength and my ability to walk normally. The idea of regaining some of my former walking ability seems like a dream, but it is a one I hope I can will into reality.