I walked away from my desk to the other side of my office to pick up a book. Opening to the page I wanted to check, my mind thoroughly absorbed in the book, I wandered back to my desk. I put the book down and started correcting a quote in a journal article that I was proof-reading. I went to put the book back on the shelf once having finished the correction, and I stopped suddenly, wondering for a moment where my walking stick was; it was still hanging from my desk where I had left it when I first started work that morning. I was starting to walk two, three, steps in my office without thinking and unassisted. And I wasn’t tiring. Moments like these remind me why I let rehab appointments disrupt my working week. I finally saw what I was doing with my Physio translate into the every day. That moment was assuring; I was getting stronger. But that mindless activity, moving away from my desk, picking up a book, turning to the right page, walking back to my desk, marked another change. I wasn’t thinking anymore about every single thing I was doing. My brain didn’t feel like it was struggling anymore to process moving while trying to do a simple task. I could focus on what my mind wanted to be doing.
This was not the first time that week where I noticed the difference. I could stand for the three hour lecture sessions without feeling too fatigued afterwards. I was beginning to struggle sitting for more than 10 minutes at a time. So out of necessity, I started standing for longer. But now I wasn’t just standing unassisted at the lectern for the fifty minute sessions, I was starting to move away from the lecture stand. I was regaining some confidence in how I was moving, not just mentally trying to move. On the Saturday, I was meeting a friend in the city for a walk and some lunch. We walked from East Terrace to the top end of Rundle Street Mall, walked into shops, did some shopping, and while I felt slightly tired at points, my endurance levels were coping. The next day, I walked with my four year old niece to a cafe at our local shops. Again, my muscles were complaining slightly when we returned home, but I held up. My muscles supporting my right hip were getting stronger. A corner turned.
Turning a corner meant that I could start planning the future, and not just for the short term. I started putting plans in place for moving out of my brother’s family home. I wasn’t quite going back to my own home yet, but I was ready for a little more independence. I also started facing the reality of what my living situation might need to look like when I returned from Cambridge in July 2016, grappling with what is wise versus what I want to do. I also made an appointment for an occupational assessment to see whether I could begin learning to drive with my left leg and to assess how much more function I would need to be able to drive using my right. Turning the corner after weeks of feeling like I was struggling, I started to think about the future, with its possibilities but also with the reality. Surprisingly, I didn’t find contemplating the reality of the long term as a cause to grieve what has been lost. I was ready to move forward whatever shape that might take. Life had already changed. My new normal was no longer new. And this was the difference turning a corner made. What was my new normal is now my present normal. A corner turned.