I have been asked several times in recent months about my seeming inflexibility with spontaneous activities. I haven’t had a good response because it is something that feels complicated to explain.
The simple answer is that I have only a certain amount of energy per day, and sometimes that is all used up by noon. If I have plans to do something later in the day, then I try to conserve it. If there isn’t anything planned, then I continue to go until the energy is gone. Sometimes I keep going anyway, but I am working hard at not doing that more.
It is much like how we drive our cars. We have a certain distance we can go on a full tank of gas. Once that gas is gone, the car stops until we put more gas in it. Quality sleep is my gas station.
In the weeks since my freak out, I have been tracking my steps with a pedometer to see if that is a good measure for me of how much is too much. It so far appears to be valuable information.
It is really easy to get the goal on most pedometers of 10,000 steps per day. That is not my goal because I soon realized that anything more than 6,500 steps makes for wobbly legs. The clonus is worse, balance is terrible, the calves and tiny feet muscles are tighter and painful, and it is time to slow things down for the day.
I can go over my steps so easily that I did it on a day when I spent several hours sitting on a couch at my dad’s house watching football with at least an hour of time sitting in a car. I was shocked to see the step count after going to the grocery store and pharmacy one day, and even more shocked on laundry and vacuuming days.
The step count is important because of the amount of conscious energy that I expend with each step. Each time my legs lift off the ground, I am consciously aware of how far they are off the ground and where they land beneath me. The walker alleviates some of that because at least I am pushing off it to get my legs and feet up, but if the legs are moving and I stop paying attention, the walker and I have accidents.
A fair part of that energy is used up fairly quickly on even a short dog walk, which is how my days begin. Duke and I are on pace with our walks because he too has a limited distance before his hind legs give out, so I share the responsibility for Ruby who needs a little longer of a walk.
Prior to the day the left leg stopped walking along with my right, I had done my best to take Ruby farther every day after we dropped Duke back off for over a month. I was also walking distances that were quite honestly overkill just because I felt like I could at the time.
But let me get back to the question of my perceived inflexibility. It isn’t a matter of flexibility as much as it is about rationing out my energy the best I can. Sometimes a night of sleep isn’t enough to refill my figurative gas tank, so I have to save what I have for work, responsibilities and daily tasks.
If nothing is left, that is when it seems I am being inflexible and even go so far as to stop planning any activities until I feel like I have had enough quality sleep to allow for it.