Inner wobble blues

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.

3 comments on “Inner wobble blues
  1. Judith says:

    I am on doxycycline because of a nasty tick bite. It upsets my stomach; makes me slightly dizzy; was reading Dirty Genes when I has to head to the bathroom and took my phone with me. When I got back to bed, I was here, with you, I don’t know how because I did not intentionally press anything on the screen, just laid back in bed next to our aged chihuahua who always sleeps in. Isn’t this how we always have met over the years Kathy? Sporadically and serendipitously? Now we meet again with faulty inner gyroscopes. Thank you for expressing everything you experience and encouraging others to the same no matter how sloppily. You are a sense sensei.

    Did I tell you that Becky and I got married in June 2020? Since then and probably even before then, she has been experiencing odd physical and psychological symptoms. Last July a neurologist diagnosed her as having corticobasal syndrome or degeneration. It is robbing her of coordination and affecting her frontal lobe. This results sometimes in fierce outbursts of anger and frustration and sometimes in uncontrollable laughter. We found her a very steady little horse to ride but it is difficult for her to mount and dismount and once mounted she can only ride with one hand. I think she has been on him 4 times for ten minutes since we found him last September. Now that a broken wrist has finally healed, I hope she can get back on and enjoy her passion once again. Endurance riding is over for both of us.

    I try to work in my studio when I can. Last fall I designed and built a small set for a production of the play “Tiny House.” It was so much fun, sawing and banging away. Did tons of sanding of recycled wood and I think I permanently screwed up my hands. Our bodies are telling us in no uncertain terms just where we are.

    I love you Kathy and feel so blessed that you spin into my life now and then, even electronically.

  2. Michaela says:

    The proprioceptive system is amazing and seamless when it works. When issues… You know it. Ricky had impact on his left side with proprioception after the strokes following his heart catheterization. He did work with a PT specifically on this. It is much better now though we notice some left sided difficulties when he is very tired or his blood sugar goes low.
    You are an amazing student.
    I am sending my love to you and Henry and the gang at your house.

  3. Kat Sanford says:

    I wish I had some of those many answers. The closest experience I have was being pregnant- my body started doing all sorts of things automatically, and with childbirth too. Sometimes we’re the pilot, and sometimes we’re the passenger. It’s humbling, and a vulnerable experience to have your body act of its own accord. It’s amazing how many systems are interconnected, and interact so seamlessly to do something as seemingly-simple as bending over. It’s only when our bodies say “No, not right now” that we realize that for all this time it’s been saying “Yes” to facilitate everything we do. Active people like you and me we can be pretty demanding! I truly hope your wobbles steady soon.

    Much Love,
    Luna & Kat

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *