15 September 2011

Juggling, knitting and television

Sometimes it's startling how much my life has changed. Pre-accident, my evenings were spent hiking with the dog, followed by cocktails with friends and dinner on the evenings I wasn't training. Weekends were active, filled with mountain biking and rock climbing (often weekend getaways) in the summer and skiing in the winter. I have always enjoyed learning new things, and in those days it was often about learning new activities: having skied since I was five years old, I learned to snowboard at the age of 30; never having been good at rollerskating, I tried rollerblading as an adult. One summer weekend I was so determined to learn how to juggle that I stood outside for eight hours, practicing the same simple moves over and over again until I got it.
Now, post-accident, my time is spent in more sedentary activities. I don't complain about it anymore, but from time to time I recognize how the aspect changed every aspect of my life -- and I muse on the impact, both deep and superficial.
While recovering, I picked up knitting, a craft I learned as a small child. In my family, all of my aunts always had projects at their fingertips. At all family gatherings they were always working on something: needlepoint, embroidery, knitting, crocheting, rug hooking, etc. While I was still confined to bed, knitting seemed like a useful, constructive way to pass the time and now I'm hooked. The repetitive motion seems to put me in a meditative state, much the same way running or bicycling did before. While my body is occupied with physical motion, my mind is free to wander.
While in the hospital I also acquired the habit of watching television, a habit I still haven't kicked. In fact, I enjoy it tremendously, though tv programs are not the same as they used to be. Now I watch tv online, using Netflix orHulu or ESPN live. It's a completely different experience because I have to choose what I want to see rather than leaving it to babble on in the background. Now I can watch the full season of a series in a week (or less). I caught up on all of "30 Rock" and  three years of "Mad Men" in just a couple of weeks. The quality of programming, if you pick and choose, is quite high, I think. And knitting and television go together well.
Juggling has re-entered my life more recently. Now that I'm relearning how to walk, I've started juggling as part of my self-imposed at-home PT program. Because of residual muscle stiffness (hip flexor contractures) and scar tissue, I have difficulty standing up straight. And, like every new amputee, I need to practice fully weighting my prosthetic leg. Juggling seems a natural fit to fill both needs. I use soft, bean bag type juggling balls (I actually knitted some using cotton yarn, filled with small beans enclosed in a nylon sock) so that they won't roll away when I drop them (and, because I am re-learning to juggle at the same time I am re-learning to stand, I drop them often) and stand next to the sofa or bed so that I won't have to bend over all the way to the floor to pick them up. Juggling requires that I stand up straight and distribute my weight between both legs, shifting gently from side to side and front to back as I toss and catch the balls. It helps to build balance and is also a great workout for your arms.
So I am accommodating these changes well. Juggling is a terrific way to get exercise, it's highly entertaining and I feel as though I am building a skill. Knitting and television go hand in hand, both as sedentary activities that I enjoy in the evenings. And I also am happily productive: while watching a movie I can knit a complete baby hat!


1 comment:

  1. A terrific idea! Thank you for sharing this, and by the way, I adore t hat baby hat!
    I hadn't realized how beneficial juggling could be, or that it required so much in terms of body balance and the use of the legs.