Considering the alternative, growing old is not such a bad proposition. However, it does present us with some stark realizations as to how much certain of our abilities have atrophied, or, in some cases, disappeared altogether. Take balance. I essentially have none. To explain: over twenty years ago, I discovered that my left vestibular nerve was totally non-functional (we have two of them, each dedicated to balance and hearing). Fortunately, I had only lost the balance function. A series of exercises was prescribed called Cawthorne’s vestibular exercises, and, after about four months of doing them, my balance was restored to near perfect.
Over the next five to ten years, I noticed that the exercises, which I continued to do on a daily basis, were no longer having quite the desired effect. I saw a local otalarynxologist (try saying that three times fast), who ran a series of tests that revealed that I now had zero response for balance in both vestibular nerves. In the course of that time frame, I traveled to Duke Medical Center, only to learn that the cause was “idiopathic,” or of unknown origin. Additionally, I learned that I also had a condition called oscillopsia. After much Google searching, I found a rehabilitation center that specialized in both bi-lateral vestibulopathy and oscillopsia, and spent about four months learning special exercises to help me cope with my disability. I was almost back to normal.
Fast forward to this morning. A former house painter, I had purchased paint, masking tape, and a new brush, and was ready to paint the powder room in our new town home. I carefully removed the wall plates from the outlet and light switch, covered the floor with newspaper, and removed all the artwork from the walls. I was ready to get started painting. Not so fast, José. Our downstairs has nine-foot ceilings, making my trusty old, five-foot aluminum ladder inadequate for the job. No matter, I brought in the fiberglass six-footer from the garage. It would give me the extra foot I needed to get the job done. Not quite. What I failed to take into account was that I couldn’t get any closer to the wall than the toilet and sink would permit, and that extra distance away from those two walls left me standing on tiptoes trying to reach the top of said walls. Fuggeddaboutit! Not happening.
The moral of this convoluted story is this: Know your limitations, and be grateful you’re still around to heed them.
So, rest assured, I will be on the phone tonight, calling a painter for an estimate. Heck, I might even consider getting rid of that six-foot ladder . . . or not (after all, I haven’t completly lost my mind, and learning is a step-by-step process).