I no longer climb. I was never really a climber, although going up was always easier then coming down. The stairs in the photo, I only used for a photo. It was in one of our town parking houses and luckily there is also a lift provided.
I used to climb in my younger days. Holidays spent in the Swiss mountain resorts in Summer with the kids, made it a necessity, although nothing like up the Eiger and down the Matterhorn. I stuck to the nice safe paths with the yellow sign which more or less meant, walking paths for dummies. There were also red and white striped paths on the signs, which I attempted. They were more for dummies with courage, the so-called mountain paths. It became clear, as the years passed by, that I was even having problems with walking on the flatter places. I was slowly a candidate for the Ministry of Silly Walks. My feet were still attached to my legs, but reluctantly. Stupid left foot kept pointing in the wrong direction.
The big occasion was when I fell on a local walk and my feet refused to co-operate when standing up again. Long story cut short, a trip to the hospital with a taxi, recovered enough to be sent home and my doc decided it was time for a visit to a specialist. Result: MS which I had been carrying with me since at least 30 years if not more, diagnosed with other silly things like Menière (inner ear balance) and just not being fit. I should do more exercise and not just sit at the computer. I suppose that part was true, my fingers were moving, but my legs were no longer so keen.
To use an explanation from the official British societ for MS “Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system (your brain and spinal cord). The central nervous system cells are covered in a protective layer of fatty protein called the myelin sheath (a bit like the insulation on an electrical cable). MS is an auto-immune disease, where the immune system gets confused and instead of attacking an infection or virus, it turns on itself and attacks this protective sheath. This process is called demyelination. The demyelination disrupts the ‘messages’ being transmitted from and to the brain, causing them to slow down, become distorted or not get through at all.” No problem, just to put you in the picture and as far as I am concerned, my brain has not noticed it yet, because it still works.
I got my own neurologist, a nice guy and he sent me for further tests. They took samples of my body parts and according to the bills that were arriving from my sickness insurance, my body was becoming famous. They had sent samples all over Switzerland: Zürich, Bern, Basel. I actually knew what I had before the doctor told me. I hope he was not disappointed, not being able to break the news.
My climbing days were now over, but I never did want to become a famous climber. I can still climb into my bed in the evening. Leaving the bed in the morning has become more complicated, but where there is a will there is a way and I will not describe here how I do it.
I now have walking stick, but not just any stick. If you have to have something, then do it properly and I discovered that the online place where I chose my stick had good choices. Not only a stick, but I also ordered a special naming plaque to put on the stick. You never know. If I happen to be out with my stick and perhaps be sitting in a restaurant, I might have to lean it somewhere. There are many golden oldies that would just love a stick like this. One of my mottos in life is that if you have to do something, then do it properly. I see jealous looks when I take a walk into town. The golden oldies follow my stick everywhere.
Another great advantage of walking with a stick is the helpfulness of others. I no longer have to wait, am directed to the front of the queue. I had to fly to London last year as my father passed away. Mr. Swiss was worried, but there was absolutely no problem. All those lovely men in uniforms at the airport practaically carried me up and down the steps to the aircraft.
Now I have two men in my life: Mr. Swiss, who is always first, and my neurologist who is a very close second. I have now learned how to inject with a super syringe, none of that pen stuff for diabetes, but a syringe where you have to mix the powder with the liquid and make sure there are no air bubbles, the real McCoy. Injecting is a piece of cake after 9 months practice. My insurance pays 90% of the cost of the medicine, which is not cheap. There is no cure for MS, but it can be slowed down. At this rate I might even make it to 100 years. I have even worked out a system for taking photos with one hand whilst hanging onto the stick with the other and no, I do not want one of those sticks to balance a camera on, not my sort of thing.
And so I will climb on, regardless. I have seen a stick with a scottish tarten pattern in blue, now that would be a good idea 🙂