Officially a Legit Walker?

Hat, cotton shirt, pants, walking shoes, trekking poles, pepper spray, phone, and I head out the door to walk as many times a week as my health permits.

Increasing my walking distance and stamina post-vestibular disorder has been a LONG JOURNEY!

Here is a photo of my early vestibular(balance) days, when walking around the block felt IMPOSSIBLE….

Early vestibular days of me laying on couch next to my dog wearing sea-bands

I was in a funk and depression FOR YEARS after my vestibular dysfunction appeared. One day someone mentioned to me..

Marissa, you are going to be “dizzy” regardless if your inside your home or outside your home.

WHAT? Well heck! She was right. I initially dismissed her statement. Deep down I didn’t want to believe life beyond my four walls was forever changed.

She was right AND being logical! I was “dizzy” outside my home as well as inside.  There was no escape. SO, I have been pushing ever since to venture out more. Since this vestibular condition NEVER leaves me, it’s going to have to join me while I push
beyond the limits of what it permits.

I mentioned to my fiancé that I wanted to try walking sticks, and he purchased me a pair of trekking poles (THANKS BABE)…

Marissa's trekking poles

I snapped a photo of me on my first walk ALONE post-vestibular issues!…

First time walking alone post-vestibular using my walking sticks

I painted my walking poles purple for lupus awareness month….

Poles spray painted purple for lupus awareness month and POP Day

It started initially with walking down the block and eventually I reached 2.1 miles…

2.147 miles says my pedometer

All I want for Christmas is to walk AND complete a 5k walk for arthritis!

jingle-bell-runwalk-arthritis- 2012

 

I FINALLY hit 2.7 miles! (Please pray I get here again. I have yet to hit this milestone again!)…

2.75 miles says my pedometer

I was able to walk far enough (BY MYSELF) to purchase my own meals from el pollo loco AND subway…

El pollo loco receipt and Subway bag

And now I want to give a shout out to my cousin who sent me 3 AWESOME walking shirts (she is a racing, triathlon, diva!)…

Racing shirt my cousin sent me

Thanks girl! You are helping me look the part of a legit walker. :)

Much love,
Marissa

P.S   It’s ok if we fail or have setbacks let’s just promise each other to  keep continuing the take incremental steps in a forward direction! WE GOT THIS

Update: All I Want For Christmas Is To Walk 5k To Fight Arthritis

The VRT specialist said YES!

I get to walk in the 5k Jingle Bell Run/Walk for arthritis.

Jingle Bell Run/Walk Arthritis logo

Can I get a…. WHOOP… WHOOP!

She expressed two concerns:

1. I have to use BOTH sticks.

– Additional balance support is a smart move.  I am down with that.

2. HOW will I handle the large crowds of people?

– She put her hands on her face worrying how I was going to deal with the  large amounts of people! I jumped in and quickly suggested…” I promise to stay at the back of the pack.” She looked a bit relieved.

– She wants me to look into pre-registration SO I can avoid the large crowds.

Time to drop a little balance education on you!

WHY would large crowds and open spaces be bothersome to a person with a vestibular disorder?

According to VEDA (Vestibular Disorder Association) a POSSIBLE symptom of a vestibular sufferer is…

Difficulty finding stability in crowds or in large open spaces

WHY would I need two walking sticks you may ask? Because there is a…

Tendency to touch or hold onto something when standing, or to touch or hold the head while seated

The sticks provide me a bit of comfort! I need all the comfort I can get.

Much love,
Marissa

P.S. If you live in the Southern California area AND are living with a vestibular disorder hit me up! Maybe we can walk the race together?  We have a little less than 5 months to get in gear. WE GOT THIS!

Appreciation Toward My Accessibility Setup

Marissa sitting alongside her walking sticks reflecting

I was feeling introspective on my walk today. I found myself full of appreciation toward my accessibility setup. I am rocking my new prism glasses and walking long distances with my trekking poles. Armed with my cell phone, glasses and walking sticks, I am able to walk solo around the neighborhood. I found myself loving and appreciating the independence. Cheers to moving in a forward direction!

Much love,
Marissa

Walking With The Aid Of Trekking Poles

I have been encouraged by medical practitioners and family members to get out and walk. I realize the tremendous health and psychological benefits attained from walking. However, what happens when your vestibular (balance) system makes walking a challenge? A compromised balance system leads to imbalance, stumbling, disorientation, muscle weakness, etc.

Taking my first steps:
After the first vertigo spell the ER doctor encouraged me to start walking as soon as possible. My first attempt at walking after the spell was clumsy, weak and unsteady. The walk around the block felt like a mile, I held onto a family member for dear life.

How I felt emotionally:
It was a terrifying experience. Once anxiety and fear set in, it became difficult convincing myself to take a stroll.

Months and years go by:
Over time I found myself resistant to walking long distances and my overall health began to suffer. There had to be a safe way for me to walk around the block! I then set out determined to find the ideal walking apparatus.

Searching the internet:
I looked into canes, crutches, walkers, rolling walkers, rollators, etc. Beside not being ascetically pleasing, they were not practical for walking down the sidewalk in my neighborhood. I needed something sturdy that allowed for equal distribution of my weight, and freedom to move my arms and legs.

My million dollar idea:
I thought I had a million dollar idea on my hands. I could cut the tops off two canes and replace the tops with sturdy handle bars!  With my million dollar idea in mind, I set out for another internet search. With each Google search result return, I quickly realized my millions were slipping away. According to Wikipedia, the idea of a trekking poles (sticks) has been around since the early 1900’s.

“Trekking poles (also known as hiking poles, hiking sticks or walking poles) are a common hiking accessory used to assist walkers with their rhythm and provide stability on rough terrain.”

Trekking poles to the rescue:
My family was open to the idea of trekking poles but no one had never seen or used them. I was blessed at Christmas receiving a pair of trekking poles from my fiance. I have been using the poles for 8 months and they have been a blessing.

 

Different views of trekking polesExcuse the quality of photos ( working with a free cell phone cam:) )

 

Benefits:

* Stability and balance
* Cork handles ( when my hands sweat it is not an issue, the cork handles are slip-resistant)
*Adjustable length ( I am short and having adjustable settings is essential)
* Wrist straps ( I place my hands within the straps and there is additional support around my wrist)
* Rubber pole tip ( The pair I am currently using has rubber walking tips. If you remove the rubber tip a metal tip is exposed.  I have used the metal tip walking on dirt and rough terrain. )

Final Thoughts:
If there is a will there is a way! There are days when the imbalance and dizziness get the best of me. However, with these trekking poles I can participate in a safe walk. For other dizzy suffers I suggest being prepared for interesting comments made from folks when walking with your sticks. We are used to living with a hidden disability and these sticks definitely bring attention. Here are some interesting comments made when I am walking the neighborhood:

” are you training for the Olympics?” ( I am 5′ nothing and 25 lbs overweight)
” are you practicing skiing? ” ( I have never skied in my life)
” what is that?” ( One mom hit her kid after he yelled this out!)

I really need to start thinking of some creative comebacks. I am learning not to take comments to heart. At first I was rather annoyed, but once again, people are curious. As long as I am walking and getting out of the house I am happy! I am looking forward to trying Nordic walking sticks seeing how they compare. Hope this information is helpful! Don’t be afraid to get out there!

Much love,
Marissa