isolation, the rollator, and jimmy leg

(now playing – 3wk radio)

it’s a bright sunny day here in maine. i sit at my dining room table, looking out at the sunlight splashing off the leaves, listening to the birds chirping, and the far off sound of a chain saw. a lovey day, but one i will probably not go out into very much, until the shade creeps over the deck and i can venture out without having to worry about the hot sun sapping my small reserves of energy.

my wife very cheerfully- as she should – took off with a little cooler of lunch to meet some friends at the beach. the beach – except for off-season visits – is mostly off limits to me (heat again, plus sitting on the beach has never really been a big draw for me.) she’s going off tomorrow to go sailing with some other friends in their little sailboat. to be honest, they did say that they’d be happy to try to get me into and out of the boat, but after going through that process before, it’s a little degrading being hoisted in and out by the hands of stout gentlemen (i know, the degrading part is all on me – they offered no degredation at all in the effort).

anyway, what i am left with is (at least partly self-imposed) isolation. like all the other kids are going to the park to play baseball, and didn’t invite me. it’s just me and the dog – who is used to being left behind. the isolation is a little self-imposed. i could get in the car and go off somewhere cool on my own, or into portland with my camera to find a shady spot to take pictures of unsuspecting tourists. but after a night of jimmy leg (we’ll get to that), my morning energy to do much of anything is pretty low. the idea of gathering my equipment, getting in the car, driving in to portland, finding a parking place and getting myself to a likely spot- and then doing all of that in reverse to get home – is overwhelming. so i spend another weekend feeling isolated – partly my own doing (or not doing), partly ms-imposed (oh, give me that much!) to tell the truth, i’m actually happier this way most of the time, being a natural-born introvert. i love quiet, lack of commotion, and i like being with myself (“we get along so well, i can’t even believe it.” – tom waits).

i went the other day to a local disability-aids emporium to talk about power wheelchairs and scooters ( very fruitful and encourging discussion), and came home with a rollator, a walker on wheels. it looks like something an old person would use, (any of you who use them, please pardon my prejudice), and since the issue i am trying to address is my legs getting tired out after only a little walking, this device didn’t really fit the bill. i also wanted deal with my balance issues, but the rollator just didn’t feel very secure to me. it has a seat, which is nice, but it’s not going to help me walking up – or down – hills. the guy in the store suggested a scooter might be the ticket, and might actually fit in my car. deal with that another day.

then there’s   jimmy leg, which i thought was an invention of krammer of seinfeld fame. but apparently not. for me, it is the continual clenching and unclenching of the muscles in my calf and lower leg which, after an hour can get pretty painful, and i certainly can’t sleep with it going on. i use to use ambien to sleep through it, but i ended up over using it, and so after one night of steroid-induced fantasies of eating the whole bottle (not to do myself in but just to sleep for a long, long time) i gave the bottle to my wife to hide. in the meantime, i’ve tried every remedy i can find- homoepathic, chemical, even gin-and tonic (tonic tastes horrible by itself, but it has quinine in it which helps). clonapin used to work like a charm, as did calcium/magnesiun, but neither of those seem to help much any more. stretching doesn’t seem to do anything. i even tried smoking pot, but i really did’t like how that felt at all.

so now i sit up until jimmy goes away, usually sometime around 1 or 2 am (or i get so tired that i am able sleep through it), watching weird late-night cable tv, and cursing jimmy up and down. sometimes i write, or make noises with my garageband.

the end result of all of this, is my weekends seem to have shrunk down to nothing more than two days off from work for me to rest and make small attempts at the projects i’ve thought about during the week in my cube. not very fulfilling. and made worse because so much of it is self imposed.

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Author: stephen

stephen harris is a writer, painter and a photographer who lives with his family in maine.

2 thoughts on “isolation, the rollator, and jimmy leg”

  1. A three day weekend for you, I hope.

    Maybe you can get enough rest to pursue what moves you regardless of how you manage it.

    I have a pair of very light weight hiking poles that give me greater stability and enable me to walk a little longer than with a cane.

    But I also have a rollator, that I use in the garden when I do yard work or when I’m going somewhere and hauling stuff.

    I do have a portable electric scooter that fits in my Mazda 3 hatchback for when I go to museums or other outings that require distance trekking. Very useful. For when I don’t want just my own company!

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