I contemplated taking the bus home. I was exhausted and sweaty following my three quarter of a mile walk to Dunkin Donuts. I avoided going for my weekend strolls since the doctor began procedures to block some nerves in my spine running to my legs and inject cortisone to reduce the inflammation narrowing the gap between vertebrae. I suppose I doubt my cane would hold me if my leg gave way as I wound my way up and down hills. Flat surfaces didn’t faze me. I did then every day with ease.
It took me up noon and boredom with an episode of “Columbo” to convince to pick up my third leg and venture outside. I headed down hill slowly, cautiously placing the cane slightly in front of me then I’d take step. My sneakers helped me grip the ground as I felt gravity pulling me forward. Blocks after block I gained confidence until I reached level ground in front of the Rite Aid. The last few blocks keeping me from my caffeine fix were easy. But once I stopped moving inside the Dunkin Donuts, I felt sweat beads rolling down the center of my back; that was the first moment I considered I was doing too much.
I brought a bag to put my breakfast sandwich in. After all, I needed my left hand to hold my coffee and the right for my cane. Once it was done, I stuffed the brown paper bag into the canvas tote; that’s when I realized to get out of the store one must push the door. I didn’t have a hand free. So, I stuck my cane between my legs, snatched the door open and caught it with my foot; this allowed me grasp my cane again and limp out. The whole time the two workers behind the counter made no attempt to help me.
The sunlight reflect off the chrome on my cane as I turned on to Washington Street. Luckily, I was the only one on the street, except for cars at the stop light. One of them was a WNBC live truck. Since I work for a rival TV station, I barely looked at it. I hobbled on one more block before the truck pulled over to the curb. I could hear the driver shouting my name but I couldn’t see him. I wish I could say I media tell recognized the voice but I didn’t. I did know the face once Baron jumped out with his arms outstretched.
Barron and I had worked together when he worked as a cameraman at WABC; but that was so long time ago. We saw each other intermittently over the years. Mostly, we kept tabs on each other lives through Facebook. In fact, I wasn’t sure he knew much about mine until he told me read my blog. I was a bit relieved and less insecure about my cane because I realized then he already knew I was dependent on one. We chatted for a few moments then said our goodbyes. As he pulled away, I thought, it’s a good thing I didn’t givers and decided to walk otherwise I would’ve missed seeing him; and that would’ve been a shame since I hadn’t seen or spoken to another human beings since I left work on Friday night.
Less the two minutes later, I turned onto Market Street, the hardest part of my journey. My route home was all uphill from here.
I started off string, passing Essex Community College and the first court house without breathing heavy. At the top, I crossed street, walking over the same cobblestone on which I’d fallen a few earlier when my leg suddenly gave out. I admit, every step brought more and more anxiety. But, before I knew it is reached the other side without incident.
I made my way over to my final hill. To the left, I noticed my “rocky” stairs. Okay, they weren’t nearly as tall outside the Philadelphia Art Museum but there was a statute at the top. Plus, I knew if I could climb them without using a railing I’d feel like Rocky Balboa. I looked around to make sure no one was watching in case I didn’t make it then I hit the stairs. I was wobbly and the cane struck the marble a few times, causing several loud bangs. Yet, I made it to the top. I swung my cane in the air like a crazy old woman them bent over to catch my breath. As soon as I realized how ridiculous I was being, I made my way back down, picked my coffee cup off the ledge, and continued up the hill towards home.
The final, steep part of my walk ended in front of a water fountain in a park honoring a veteran. I paused letting the mist from it cool me down. I didn’t even care that it was drizzling my hair out, turning it into an out of control curly Afro.
There was just one more street to cross before I reached my townhouse and stared at the twelve stairs leading my front door. I thought about just sitting down on the brick wall until I could collect myself. However I knew that would just delay the inevitable; I would have to climb those stairs and the ones to my first floor before I could truly rest.
So, I took a deep breath and began my assent. I really wasn’t as bad I thought. The chill from the air conditioning provided an incentive for me to hurry up the last flight of stairs. I was in, my trek was over and nothing bad happened to me.
I flopped down on the sofa and thought my strong will drove me to find a way to get through another obstacle, this time my walk. Then, I chuckled as I caressed my cane, too bad I have another back procedure tomorrow and will have to recuperate all over again. In that moment, I was just glad for the small victories.
About the author
Nika C. Beamon is a journalist working in New York. She is the author of Misdiagnosed: The Search for Dr. House, about her quest yogic the correct medical diagnosis. In 2009, Chicago Review Press published her non-fiction book, I Didn’t Work This Hard Just to Get Married. She is also the author of two mystery novels.