Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Proprioception.

Dad is so stiff now, I've noticed. He sits almost bolt upright, turning his head only a little to look at what's on either side of him. He walks very slowly now, feeling each step; barely even lifting his feet at all, actually. The doctor thinks the nerve signals from his feet to his brain that tell him how to walk and whether there's solid ground under his feet are fading. He was never the most graceful and easy-moving of men; in fact, I can remember several crashes while skiing and a lot of awkward hugs, but he was athletic and strong, and I know he appreciated that. I remember running alongside him, when I could still run, for miles, and I remember the joy he took in bombing down mogul hills in the snow.

When my fiance and I took him for a ride in our Corvair, I noticed then, too, how hard it was to bend him to get him to sit in the seat, and how his body hardly moved going around corners, only stiffly swaying from side to side. I don't know if its the Lewy-Body or what, but I think his entire body's proprioception is no longer working.

Proprioception, as I understand it, is the term for how the muscles and ligaments of our limbs move and are aware of themselves in space and in relation to other limbs. His muscles are so stiff now, and seem as lost as he is, in a way. He reacts stiffly to everything, to every movement. The other day when I visited, I watched him sitting bolt upright in a lounge chair, unable or unwilling to relax, to slump a little. I see the elderly in a lot of facilities slumped down in their chairs, a victim of gravity. It seems my father has gone the other way, but I still feel sad to watch him, hardly moving, because I still see underneath the man with the powerful arms, breaststroking for miles down the lake.

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