December 23, 2016

Walking in the Dark

My love of being outside at night began when my mother decided I was old enough to sit on the front porch on cool summer evenings.  I loved watching the street lights sparkling through leaves on the trees and being a part of quiet conversations.  So when my brother suggested we see the Christmas lights at the Brookfield Zoo I was eager to go.
I did well while it was still dusk (photo on left).  When the sun went down (photo below) I had trouble seeing where vertical was.  My stroke hit the pons which is the bridge to the cerebellum where balance is controlled.  My cerebellum gets so little information from my inner ears that I need visual input to tell if I am vertical.  
As it got darker I started guessing by watching the dark outlines of people walking in front of me.  This made me lurch from side to side to correct the poor guesses I made.  This rocking motion wore me out and brought my walking to a halt.  Walking for years down well lit streets did not prepare me for the balance challenge that real darkness creates.

I am going to restrict myself to night time activities that require sitting --- like watching people skate.  I got to see children smile when their parents kept them from falling.  I got to watch funny interactions among dating couples who had unequal skating skills.  I got to look at Chicago's beautiful Michigan Avenue.  I got to breathe the crisp night air and appreciate my warm coat, mittens, and scarf.  I got to enjoy a fun evening with my brother.  I learned the hard way that walking requires problem solving as well as mobility.


  1. I can't believe how cruddy I feel after dark too.
    Add flashing and racing lights on everything at Christmas and I am in trouble.

    This year I had friends invite Bob and me to go on a city lights tour in a bus with them. I was a little worried that I might not handle the bus ride very well (that has been an issue in the daylight) It really went very well. You can't fall down when you are already Bob is always driving so he enjoyed that chance to just sit back and look at the city too.

  2. I find walking in the dark to be very scary, too. I'm so glad that the days are getting longer now.

  3. I enjoyed this post very much. Love the photos, too. thanks for posting

  4. I learnt from joining a couch to 5km beginners' running group a couple of years ago that a lot of my balance is derived visually (so much more difficult to run in the centre of a group and/or at after dark).
    Having broken my right (dominant) foot (styloid process of 5th metatarsal) a fortnight ago, and using a protective boot and crutches I've found it's made night-time negotiation even more fun!
    I must work more balance and proprioception into my fitness regimes once my foot is healed.