I’m Remembering to Observe Changes in My Body When in Motion
I have a memory of my brother and me from at least two decades ago, when I was a small child. My brother and I are relaxing on the couch at my grandparents’ house. It’s a lazy afternoon, and the two of us are just lounging around. But then I see something that intrigues me. It’s the way my grandfather walks.
With every step, his right foot angles almost exactly 45 degrees away from whatever direction he’s walking. Curious, I ask my brother why Grandpa walks like that. My brother replies, saying he doesn’t know for sure.
His hypothesis, however, informed by many hours spent in high school marching band, is that it might be due to the years my grandfather spent in the U.S. Army. My brother suggests that perhaps it’s just my grandfather’s practice to always be ready to stand “at attention.”
I can’t say for certain, but I think my brother’s hypothesis was probably incorrect. Instead, I think it might have been a symptom of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT), the chronic condition that runs in my family. But no one in my family had the vocabulary for such things back then.
My grandfather passed away two decades ago, and for the longest time, I never saw anyone walk in a similar way. My father, sister, and uncle each have their own version of a “CMT walk,” but no one walks quite like Grandpa did.
However, that changed a couple months ago when I saw someone walking with a gait not too dissimilar to that of my late grandfather. It was a small shock, because that someone was me.
My own CMT walk had apparently changed. I’m guessing that it evolved to compensate for growing weaknesses in my right foot. Now, it resembles my grandfather’s.
I don’t know when it started, but I’m noticing that whenever I walk, my right foot consistently wants to land at that same 45-degree angle that characterized, at least in my mind, my grandfather’s gait.
In a way, it’s kind of charming, as if my gait is some kind of unconscious tribute my body is performing.
But it’s also a reminder for me to always observe the changes in my body and monitor the development of CMT symptoms. For more than a year, I’ve tried to include at least a couple moments of quiet meditation in my day. I take these moments to examine and check in with how my body is doing while at rest.
I’m remembering that I also need to take advantage of moments of activity to check in with how my body is doing when in motion.
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