All I really wanted to do was get some exercise by walking 100 yards or so from our house to the entrance to the KOA campground. I invited Henry to walk along with me and at first he declined, but luckily he changed his mind.
I did okay walking south, but then when I turned around to walk north along Juniper Lane back to our driveway, it was if my gyroscope went on the fritz and I couldn’t straighten a prominent lean to the left. This made me walk like a drunk woman, staggering to the left, over correcting, and then straining my lower back on the right side to keep me upright. I would stop, stretch and swing my arms to the left and the right from my hips. I suppose I was trying to unlock the spazzed gyroscope and kickstart the proprioceptive system nervous system. After staggering a few more yards, I ended up falling on the shoulder of the road, and Henry went back to get the car. I’m sure we were quite a sight with him trying to get me standing and stuff me into the passenger seat. Aside from a couple bruises and a pulled thigh muscle, I was fine the next day, but it scared me and I found myself thinking about walkers and wheelchairs. I’m not ready to get ready for that.
I’ve had these episodes a couple times before. Interestingly enough, this kind of spazz attack, or inner wobble blues, is exactly what happened after receiving both boosters to the covid vaccine, both in 2021. The first time I got shuddering chills and stepped into a hot bath to soak them out and then discovered that I didn’t have the strength, coordination, or balance to get myself out of the bathtub, despite the grab bars. I had to yell for Henry for help. The second time was similar although this time I was smart enough to avoid taking a bath but had trouble climbing into bed or even turning over. It’s easy enough to chalk up these instances as reactions to the booster.
But that little walk down to the campground, and a previous experience of losing my balance , strength, and coordination after working hard — probably too hard — to dismantle a compost pile last year, make me wonder what’s going on and what I could possibly do about it aside from taking it easier and sitting or lying down to reset the inner wobble blues.
From my many years as a bodyworker, an aikido practitioner, and as someone who has always identified as a kinesthetic learner, this is what I’ve learned about the proprioceptive nervous system: Proprioception, or kinesthesia, is part of the autonomic nervous system that allows us to perceive and coordinate body location, movement and action in the body. Receptors for the proprioceptive nervous system, located throughout our bodies, including our joints, tendons and skin, work together with the central nervous system through dialogue and feedback For example, if I am stretching my back by touching my toes, or if I am stretching my arms overhead to one side and then to the other, the central nervous system might freak out and say Kathy you’re falling, but the proprioceptive nervous system says no, that’s an overreaction — you’re just stretching or bending. If you have martial art training or any kind of dance or sports, perhaps you can see how this kind of coordinated dialogue helps us stay oriented in space and centered in our bodies even though we might be upside down, pivoting, running backwards, rolling into a fall, or in some other weird position.
But what happens when the proprioceptive nervous system goes on the fritz as mine might be doing? Is it because of having brain cancer? Is it aging? A combo? How can I kickstart my hard learned skills from aikido, horseback riding, and living a physical, kinesthetic life to remedy this problem?
Always more questions than answers. Sensei glioblastoma and Sensei mortality seem to be teaming up in their lessons.