You Can’t See The Stars When You’re Staring At The Ground

hunchbackMS is seriously turning me into a hunchback.

Over the last few years, I seem to have acquired rounded shoulders, and when I walk I automatically stare dolefully downwards, using my expert laser vision to scan for potential slips, trip-ups and mishaps.

I only really noticed this when my trainer asked me to put my shoulders back and look straight ahead. Oh, really?  Ohhhhhhh – kaaaay. Creak. Creak. Oh. Blimey. Hey! I’m six inches taller. Hey, I have a proper posture. Like in the magazines. S’mazing.

I used to strut. After years of being taller than your average British female (a not-that tall 5′ 8″), proudly sashaying along any pavement in high-heeled Italian boots, cobblestones no problem, I am now one of those people I used to cross the road to avoid. I mutter to myself, eyes fixed to the ground. ‘Meh, see! Told you, blinking stoopid pavement. Tut. Yada, yada, council, etc.’

In the three years since MS barged into my life, I have not walked tall. At all (lol). My shoulders are my shield, the pavements my enemy. I can literally (and I don’t use that term lightly), trip over dust. My shoes are all scuffed, bearing the brunt of my clownish walking.

But. Something magical happened when the trainer told me to stand up straight (in a very nice way). It was almost like a sixth-form A Level English Language metaphor – ‘after three years of looking downwards, she finally faced the world head on – indicative of how she was able to now walk tall, walk proud, defying the world she had unwittingly constructed.’ Discuss

You know what? There’s definitely something in that. I was so busy seeking out obstacles on the ground, I missed the beautiful vistas passing me by. I tuned out the white noise of my friends’ concern. I was totally focused on putting one foot in front of the other. Simple, no?

Well, no. I missed so much. I didn’t take the time to breathe, look up and be thankful I was still here, still in one (albeit shaky) piece. My head was buried in the sand. Friends peeled away. Life atrophied. The pity parties multiplied.

I hope that, along with torturing me with endless squats, the trainer has given me the space to hold my head up high once again. What’d I miss?

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18 thoughts on “You Can’t See The Stars When You’re Staring At The Ground

  1. I wish I didn’t have to be always looking at the ground, but when I looked up last week, I went for a flight and bruised my knees and hands :/ If its a place that I know is not likely to cause me to fall, I will look around at things but I fall too much not to look down :/

    • stumbling in flats says:

      I’m with you on that one!
      I trip less than I used to, but I’m still in the habit of scanning everywhere I go, which is pretty exhausting. In work today, I tripped five times :-(.

  2. I’m fine walking around my own one-level home as long as no one moves anything. The plan is imprinted on my brain/sat nav. As soon as I try to walk outdoors (other than on brand new flat patio) disaster befalls me. I am sure looking up more is a good feeling.

    However, I have a severe latency of eyes-to-brain messaging (those visual evoked potential tests show it up for what it is) so I have to see what is in my step as soon as possible.

    Power to your heads-up walking, though. Not Stumbling in Flats now?

    • stumbling in flats says:

      That sounds awful Shirley.
      I’m hoping this new-found confidence is here to stay. When MS first started, I couldn’t ‘sense’ my feet at all, so I had no idea where my feet were (if that makes sense!). So I stumbled pretty much continuously. The medicine helped a lot, and I can tell when I’ve forgotten to take it! Even a few hours late :-(. But you know what it’s like, I lost all confidence in walking. Now I know I’m going to stumble, just not as often. At the moment, it’s my hands that are playing up, dropping everything! I’m not very safe in polite company. Maybe I should rename my blog Sometimes Stumbling in Flats?!
      Wish I could wear heels again though…

  3. Julie says:

    I tend to look down too, especially when outside. If I look up, to the side or behind me I lose balance.
    One thing I have noticed is that in recent months my flat shoes, with 1 inch heel, make me feel as if I am teetering on 6 inches. I have bought new ones with 1/2 inch heel and they are ok. I am amazed at how much difference that 1/2 inch makes!

    • stumbling in flats says:

      totally agree! Most of my shoes are almost totally flat, such as ballet flats. I bought some new ones from H&M for the Autumn and wore them for the first time yesterday. Not sure if it was a coincidence that I had a weird dizzy spell where I was walking ‘drunk’. Odd. Couldn’t wait to get home. I much prefer just to have no shoes on at all and walk around at home barefoot (I slip in socks!!).

  4. Stephanie says:

    Hi Stumbling!
    I discovered your blog this weekend and have caught up on all of it! I was fully diagnosed in June after a couple MRIs and a lumbar puncture (it all began with optic neuritis). Your experiences are so familiar already, and it’s nice to have someone to relate to. I’m 42 and single with two dogs (no kids), hectic work schedule…your stories have really made me think about how I’ll approach everything going forward. Anyway, keep it coming and thanks!

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Hi Stephanie!
      Such a lovely comment, thank you so much! Got a huge grin on my face, which is unusual for a Monday morning :-).
      Sorry to hear about your diagnosis, but you’ll find us all a friendly bunch! I hope in some way it’s a relief for you, so you know what’s happening and can find ways to deal with all that’s been happening?

  5. Melissa says:

    I also just came across your blog through, and I think it’s great! Really loving your posts, keep it up! 🙂

    • Melissa says:

      BTW, Any tips for a new blogger? 🙂

      • stumbling in flats says:

        Tricky one! I think the best tip is, before you really start your blog, work out what you want to say and how you want to say it. Sum up your blog in just one sentence. Find a unique voice and way of telling someone something. Why do you want to tell them?
        Also, try not to write long, rambling blogs. People’s attention spans on the internet is notoriously short – you want to grab them and hold their attention for just long enough to make them want to come back!
        And finally (!), make sure you have an ‘About Me’ page. It’s amazing how many people don’t put one on their blog!
        Good luck!!!

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Thank you so much! Been a bit quiet of late – summer’s always a little manic. Normal service should resume shortly!

  6. Nice post. Keeping your head up is good for the spirit – which is where the phrase “chin up” came from. I am so pleased you have a trainer to guide you. I can tell you from experience that it is quite remarkable what you can achieve if you keep up the exercise! Keep practicing with the mobility, balance and coordination.

    Just to check in for you I’m an old hand at this MS lark. I have been diagnosed for 37 years and have highly active RRMS. I can track it back to age 18 but it took a few years for me to understand that all the incidents might be the same issue. For all the relapses and challenges I have led a charmed life and still manage to be very active! I might have MS – it doesn’t have me.

    • stumbling in flats says:

      That’s so inspiring – thank you! My chin is most definitely up. For the first time in a while. I’m going to do a little bit every day and maybe walk a little more in the autumn, when it’s cooler.

  7. rachmonkey says:

    glad to hear you have been pumping some iron my friend 😉 you’ll be doing the 5k with me next! go on! Serously though, good for you.

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