Originally published August 4, 2013
I’ve recently returned from almost a month in Europe with my family – our first trip to Europe (outside of Italy) and our first “major” trip since I began the pump. Planes and trains took us through seven countries and city travel was mostly confined to local public transport or our own ten feet (5 persons X 2). Being the considerate father I consider myself to be, I equipped everyone with new hiking boots a few months in advance of the trip to ensure they were well broken in. The best intentions, don’t always pay off. Suffice it to say, that not everyone met with success in this regard and the resulting journey has left an indelible imprint on our soles.
Yet, despite the relative support – or better lack thereof – provided by our chosen footwear, we marched on. Often times a weary lot, we soldiered through smoggy cities, pastoral country sides, bustling city cores, massive museums and back street art galleries. We strolled along canals, scaled steps to the top of church steeples and down to the depths of catacombs and crematoriums. We climbed hills and up four storey stairs to “flats” that we temporarily called home.
Walking is one thing when you are relatively unencumbered and free to meander to and fro. Perhaps graze in a meadow or explore a wooded area of a new found park. It’s quite another when you are carrying all your possessions on your back or in a sack or pulling a wheeled suitcase along a cobble-stone street. It’s also not quite as much fun when you are circumventing the circumference of a foreign city in search of an allusive train station while calculating how many minutes you have left before your train departs.
For someone with PD, walking is a double edged sword. On the one hand (or foot?!), I need to keep moving. If I sit or rest for any length of time, I stiffen-up. On the other, the more I walk, the more I tire. Yet, I must continue. I must push myself to walk more or face unwanted pain and rigidity. So, I walk. And walk. Not always briskly. Not always in a straight line. Not always without a shuffle, a limp or cramping. But I walk.
P.S. On September 7 2013, I’ll be taking a different walk. i’ll be walking to support Parkinson’s research – if you are able to sponsor me, please click here.