When I started my exercise regime, Sarah Zahib of Continuum Fitness asked me what one of my fitness goals was.
I thought about it for a moment. “I’m always asked to do this thing for my neurologist where I have to walk heel to toe across the room. I’d really like to be able to do that one day.”
“You will. I’ll help get you there.”
I started working out in 2014. The first time I did that exercise for my neurologist, I couldn’t even manage one step. There was no way that I could get my body to do what I wanted it to. In 2015, I managed one step heel to toe; in 2016, I managed three steps, but both of those times, the neurologist helped me to balance. I could not do it alone.
It’s incredibly frustrating. How could something so simple such as walking heel to toe across a room be so difficult? I could do it without thinking as a child, walking as if I was balanced on a tightrope. I could do a lot of things without thinking about them before.
Yesterday, I saw my neurologist for my six month appointment. She had a resident doctor take me through the normal tests they do to check dexterity, balance and strength. After everything, she asked me to walk heel to toe for as long as I could.
I had both been dreading this and looking forward to it. I’ve been practicing, seeing how many steps I can do before I lose my balance. It’s different doing it in a hospital, however. After all the exercises, my body is rather numb and springy all at once.
Taking a deep breath, I stepped out with my right foot and then managed to put my left foot in front of my right, so that the toe was touching the heel. I stepped again, willing my legs to do what I needed them to do. For the first time, no one held on to my hands. I was doing this completely on my own.
I took a third step, another deep breath, and a fourth step, my arms out to my side slightly. I wondered if I would be able to fly if I tried to. I took a fifth step, a smile across my face.
“Okay, that’s fine now.” She said.
I took a sixth step, just because I could. When I looked up instead of down at my feet, I had actually made it across the room. Now, granted, it was a small room but regardless, I had finally done it. I had walked across the room heal to toe. Even though I had walked across a floor, it was as if I had climbed a mountain.
This afternoon, I had the opportunity to go and see Kontinuum, a light and music and interactive art exhibit. I had been wanting to see it forever. Looking at my ticket, I saw that, in total, it would take 107 steps to get to where the exhibit actually took place, deep underneath the city.
I immediately thought about not going.
I sat there and thought of every conceivable reason why I shouldn’t go. Then I thought of walking those six steps, I could tackle one hundred and seven. I was fine until we approached them and looked around for the elevator, hoping to take in downstairs. There wasn’t one that I could see.
It was either go down the stairs or go home. I chose to go downward. I took my time, taking it one step at a time, the music playing around me, lights flashing above me. I counted each step that I took, making sure to keep track. One, two, three, four…
I was reminded of the movie Dancer in the Dark with Bjork and her song 107 Steps from the movie. I thought of what was waiting for her at the end of those steps and how terrified she was to put one foot in front of the other. I pushed aside my fear and continued downward, ever hopeful.
As I went further below ground, it was as if I was entering another world, so beautiful was the world around me. I walked down one stairwell that was made to resemble the throat of an enormous beast. I wondered what we would find when we finally arrived.
When we finally reached the bottom, I took a moment to look back at where I had come from. I had never climbed so many steps going down, not since I had gotten Multiple Sclerosis. My legs felt like jelly, but I decided to keep going. Kontinuum was all about transformations and the frequency that you put out into the world.
I had left my fear behind at the top of the stairs and found myself changed slightly at the bottom. I was no longer so afraid of putting one foot in front of the other and all it had taken was 113 steps.