Monday, August 3, 2009

Mom's walk

Mom's performance was wonderful today. She didn't have to go to radiotherapy, so Dad and I took her out to the nearby Fort Hunt Park to let her have some fresh air.

The park was fairly empty at 1:30PM on a weekday; we drove a little more than halfway around the circle drive and found a shady spot at which to park, then we got out with Mom and strolled nowhere in particular, doing our best to stay in the shade. It was a bright, sunny afternoon, but not nearly as humid as it had been over the past few days. Our stroll took us over grass, weeds, dirt, and gravel. What a sight we must have been: two large guys flanking a tiny woman in a crash helmet.

Mom's stride was vigorous and strong today. She held Dad's and my hand as we wandered across the grass and looked at various trees. We moseyed over to a nearby pavilion and sat down for a while, watching squirrels and listening to a variety of birds. Mom wasn't talkative during all this, but she was definitely verbal, making random remarks about this or that sight or sound. Dad pointed out some chalk drawings done by some kids-- probably as part of a party-- on the concrete floor of the pavilion.

We wandered even more, ending up at a different picnic table shaded only by trees. Mom tried to clean the tabletop with her fingertips, obliging me to go to a restroom and grab some paper towels so that Mom could wash her hands. The last thing Mom needed was dirty fingers; the threat of infection is always with us. Allowing her to sit facing toward the picnic table probably wasn't a good idea, but once we reseated her facing away from the table, she was immediately less fidgety and more in tune with the panorama around her.

I often like to talk about Mom's "cone of awareness," an imaginary volume of space that radiates out from her face like the beam of a flashlight. If something enters that narrow cone, she'll pick up on it. If, however, something happens outside of that cone-- even just outside of it-- she'll often miss it completely. I can, for example, stand just off to the side of Mom while she's watching TV and ask her a question, only for her to ignore it. But if I wave at her, with my hand passing just inside that cone, she'll jump as if startled and then look straight at me, giving me her full attention. At that point, it's possible to ask her anything. This is why Mom interacted the way she did with the picnic table: it consumed her attention because it filled her cone of awareness.

It was only during the final walk back to the van that Mom showed signs of fatigue, but I felt this was a good thing: it showed that she had pushed herself a bit. Never once did Mom complain; in fact, she seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed her outing today. It's nice to know the park is so close at hand.

To cap it all off, when we got Mom home, she managed to mount the five steps of our deck without needing a boost. She held the banister with one hand and gripped my hand with her other hand, but at no point did I or Dad have to boost her by pushing or pulling. This is an amazing contrast to how she was even a mere few days ago.

Thus ended Mom's brief time at the park. We'll be out that way again soon. For now, we're all happy at the improvement we see, and we hope it lasts a while.


1 comment:

kwandongbrian said...

I wish you many more days like this.