Are you scared?
I am a little.
Because you scared me.
I have to prepare my breakfast at one counter where the fruit is and then move the plate across a gap past the fridge.
I put one stick down and take hold of the bowl and prepare to move it to the next counter. At this point I know I can hold onto the counter and move the bowl but my mind tells me that I will be imbalanced and shuts the body down. I stand there clinging for dear life like a man on a precipice; my hands clawing the counters, legs shaking and the blood beating in my temples, a kind of panic attack. At this point my mom (who in her last year had a similar problem) would be shouting…
‘I’m falling, I’m falling my darling’ to which I would answer,
‘No you are not, just move and you will be ok’ taking her by the arm I would say
‘See you’re fine’
She would say
‘But I was going to fall’ and I would laugh and say
‘It’s all in your imagination mother, you are fine’.
Now it is me telling myself…
‘Calm down boy, it’s all in your head. The beads of perspiration are real but the rest is just you getting yourself in a tizzy.
I had ‘one’ yesterday when I reached across the kist in the lounge to get a bowl of cereal. I had two sticks in one hand and had the bowl in my hand when my legs went stiff, the hands could not even get back to retrieve my stick, I was stuck, hands stiff, arms in spasm, shoulders stiff in fright, my neck like a ramrod, my calves like iron bars, almost as painful as a cramp. Stuck, I could not move backward or forward. All the time in my rational mind I am telling myself
‘This is silly; you know that you can do this.’
‘Just this morning you did the same thing and nothing happened, you can easily do this’.
My skrik mind is shutting everything down,
‘Nobody moves! Remember that spot of milk on the floor, it may have got under the pad of the walking stick and that could make you slip’
‘If you don’t move you will not fall’
My rational mind answers;
‘Dummy, that was in the kitchen and you have walked all the way to the lounge across the carpet without falling, why would it make you slip now that you are standing still?’
‘You may be standing still in the lounge but I am on a slippery slick boat jetty with one of the kids who always ‘donces’ your knees from behind lining me up for a shock.
All the while I am thinking
‘How long do you think you can stand here like Johnny Wilkinson, toes pointed in, weight on the balls of your feet, like a nanny wearing high heels for the first time, hand drawn in protecting the family jewels, concentrating?’
But dad has removed his hand from my saddle; I’m on my bicycle for the first time and I’m going to fall, I’m wobbling, I am going down I know it… nothing has changed but the world has turned upside down.
I wrench my eyes from their fixed terror; I look down at my forearm twisted like a rope in an effort to cling to stability the headache is spreading from the knotted chords in my nape-fhairline to my temples where the rush of blood is beating on the little drum.
‘Nobody move, you will fall, bang your head on the concrete and there is nobody to pick you up, you remember the blood on the tiles last time?’ ‘You split your head open, there was blood everywhere; remember the big stone you painted with raspberry jam in the garden?’
The blood is racing through my temples my heart is jumping at my throat, ‘let me out’.
My back is aching from the tension, it is about five minutes and eventually encouraging myself I move my right hand slowly, by degrees, all the while I sway and my skrik mind reminds me, ‘I told you, I warned you now you are going to fall”
I move and am rewarded by the touch of my walking stick on my right thumb, now I have to open my hand that is bunched, a white ball, force one, then another finger apart and slide onto the stick making sure that I don’t shift my weight a millimetre. Now the stick is caught between the kist and the other stick and my ‘skrik’ mind says:
‘You are going… falling; you are going to spit your head on the deck’
‘Freeze!’ ‘Iyou don’t move then you can not fall’.
‘Remember the fall in the road when you put strawberry jam on the tow bar, remember the ribs that you rearranged, remember the fall on the bricks, remember the fall when you broke your hip’.
Funny how articulate, sharp and ultimately persuasive the memory of pain can be.
‘Ok, we won’t move, we all remember.’ The various parts of my body ache in memory.
My rational mind kicks in…
‘Common guys, you know that you are aching, you are ready to fall if you don’t move.’
‘You forgot the time you ‘fell us’ into the shitter.’
All I need at this time is some more reminders from my arms and legs.
My ‘skrik’ mind now has complete control, the seizure has shut down every part of my mind and body, like a statue frozen in some Narnia story nothing moves apart from shaking and swaying.
Then a gentle rumble reminds that it is half eleven and I have not eaten. The breakfast of pawpaw, apples, pear, banana, bran, muesli and milk catches the eye and the dam is broken. I find my hands moving, with a gentle wobble I fall into my chair. I have run an ultra marathon; I have swum the channel, climbed Everest. I will never reach out and grab the bowl from there ever again!
My skrik mind retires mumbling threats; ‘youse didn’t win me… I’ll be back tomorrow if youse has the guts’.