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I’m Keeping Aware of Fall Risks with MS

I’m Keeping Aware of Fall Risks with MS

Faith of the Mustard Seed

“Oh no, not again.” My mind races and time slows as I crumble to the floor. Every downward movement is magnified, and so too is the pain of my twisted left foot and leg. They have become the resting place for my slumping body. My fuzzy and confused mind is straining to recall, “How did this just happen?”

As I survey the room, I see a vision that I hope to soon forget. There I am, fully reflected in my tall black closet mirror, still gripping my now angled walker, slumped in a corner, and engulfed by packing supplies. I am, ironically, pressed snugly against a large bag of bubble wrap.

The soft landing was marred only by my extremely sore leg and, of course, the challenge now before me: How do I get myself upright? As much as I dislike falling, I detest getting up even more. After realizing I am OK to try, I begin contemplating my escape from the floor.

Join the MS forums: an online community especially for patients with MS.

I am relieved to see my phone is within reach, so I call my daughter in the main house. She helps me to crawl from my closet to my bed, then to my computer chair. What a production! I feel like I have just scaled the highest mountain and I have a bruised, swollen leg and foot to prove it.

My extremities will recover, but for right now, the pain I am experiencing makes it challenging to walk. The residual anxiety from the fall may take a little longer to heal. The fear of taking a tumble again is real. I realize that with multiple sclerosis (MS), falling is likely to happen again and it is something of which I am always conscious.

Many risk factors can precipitate a topple: loss of balance, foot drop, spasms, weakness, and numbness, to name a few. Medication side effects can contribute to dizziness, balance problems, and confusion. It is essential to keep your environment safe and free of clutter, loose rugs, and slippy areas, that may cause a fall.

After a fall, I look for the contributing factors so I can prevent any future ones. This time I was trying to hurry. I turned sharply causing my weak legs to give out. Every time I use my walker, I need to be mindful of each step taken. That is just the reality of my MS: When I forget to be aware, falls can happen.

Sometimes for no apparent reason, my legs can go from underneath me. According to the National MS Society, “A sedentary lifestyle, for anyone, leads to deconditioning. Inactivity can result in the loss of muscle tone and weakness, as well as poor posture and impaired balance. Inactivity also results in decreased bone density, which increases the risk of fracture.”

I know that a sedentary lifestyle does contribute to my leg weakness,  but it is because of MS that my legs are weak and my exercise limited. So I will continue to do my best to exercise and hopefully strengthen my legs.

I hope you will check out a column written by my fellow MS columnist, Ed Tobias, entitled “MS and Falling the ‘Right Way.'”

Please join us in the discussion in the MS forums.


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Debi is a retired admissions and marketing director residing in Oregon. She is a mother of three grown children and has three grandchildren. She was diagnosed with PPMS in 2010. With her column, “Faith of the Mustard Seed,” she hopes to help and inspire others who are also dealing with MS.
Debi is a retired admissions and marketing director residing in Oregon. She is a mother of three grown children and has three grandchildren. She was diagnosed with PPMS in 2010. With her column, “Faith of the Mustard Seed,” she hopes to help and inspire others who are also dealing with MS.
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    • Debi Wilson says:

      Hi Marie, I am sorry that you have fallen also,and on a scooter to boot! I can tell that you can relate to my fall experience. I’m glad that it made you smile! Thank you for reading my column! Debi 🙂

  1. Seth says:

    I have so been there, i haven’t even finished reading the article yet but i wanted to say, falling with ms is so tough. The day’s of bouncing up from falls are clearly over. I must finish your article now… much thanks!!

    • Debi Wilson says:

      Thank-you for reading my column Seth and for taking the time to write! It sounds like you can totally relate to my fall experience! That is so true about no more “bouncing up!” Best to you, Debi

  2. What I do is try to be by something to grab to if I should start to fall. Just keep on keeping on, A song by Gladys knight that I inspire myself with. Bless you and all dealing with these illnesses.

    • Debi Wilson says:

      Great advice Tracy and that is a perfect song for inspiration! Thank- you for sharing and blessings to you as well! Debi

  3. Catherine says:

    Yes! I have fallen outside a busy London tube station, in rush hour and it was pouring with rain! A young man on crutches helped me up! It was the last straw and I engaged a personal trainer at the gym to help with my balance. Touching wood, no falls since I have started to work on my balance – coming up to a year ago now.

    • Debi Wilson says:

      I’m sorry that you fell Catherine, It sounds like it was horrible! That’s great advice about the trainer, thank-you for sharing! Best to you, Debi

    • Lori says:

      Can you share with us exactly what kind of exercises are helping with your balance?? I go to a fitness center and work. With the trainer one on one usually one day a week. The other days I just work on my strength training. Thank you.

  4. Dan Pottman says:

    Try getting hit by a car. I wish Florida had a sign before I hit the line saying: Pottman, ye enter perish all hope. You will never be happy again if you enter.
    Oh i wish I was dead. 30 years of money and pretty much that’s what ms is. A money disease. A disease where you are totally invisible.
    I am so tired.

    • Debi Wilson says:

      I’m sorry you have had such trouble, Dan. So many of us can relate to feeling down at times and being tired of MS. I hope you will continue to reach out and share your feelings.
      We are here for you!

    • Janna says:

      I know where you are coming from. I received the diagnosis and all the friends I thought I had disappeared and now I am so lonely.

    • Lori says:

      Keep fighting Dan! Don’t ever give up. I know what you’re up against. I think we all get dark days. Try to stay positive.

  5. Rob says:

    Yeah, falls are bad. Over the past 4 years I have fallen nearly 100 times. I ran the Boston Marathon in 1998. Then, got diagnosed 2 years later. Now I use a walker, which does help. Yeah, most of the time while I have fallen is I was moving too fast. I’ve learned to slow down and go slow around the turns. It’s nice when people hold the door for ya. Plus, posture is important.

  6. Damian Rodriguez says:

    I have fallen so many times, a lot to even count yeah I went from using a cane to using a walker to using a wheelchair, and yeah falling sucks and yeah you slowly get to the idea that you always need to hold on to something when it comes about walk

  7. Greg says:

    I’ve learned that using a cane on a wet walking surface don’t mix too well. Time to use the walker instead to be extra safe.

  8. Anita says:

    I’m laughing to myself. I’ve had about 7 falls. Most happen outside. Once while washing my dog outside, I had the hose outstretched. I turned on the water, walked back towards the dog and tripped over the hose. Landscape rock was in front of me and in those 3 seconds or so, I made the decision to push off my toes and vaulted myself into the bushes on my right. Better to fall in bushes as opposed to rock! Another time, I took my dog out before going to bed at midnight. Coming through the garage, my dog was smelling around a box on the floor. I thought there was probably a bug under the box. I bent over, slowly lifted the box by the corner and the bug came shooting out towards me. I screamed, pushed myself backwards, my right leg gave out, I fell and fractured my pelvic bone in two places. Oh my god. I knew something was wrong right away. I share the story so that you don’t do something so stupid.

    Most my falls though have been in the yard outside with the dogs or watering the grass. The people whose home faces my backyard probably think I’m drunk or on drugs. I envision them saying, “there she goes again”! Anyway, just be aware of your surroundings, know your limitations and don’t do anything stupid!

    • Debi Wilson says:

      Thanks Anita,I appreciate your comments. That’s funny about your neighbors and what they could be thinking about your falls!
      I’m sorry you had to have so many, but I’m glad your shared your story

  9. Petra says:

    Yes don’t us warriors know about falling?? I’ve learned from experience moment loosing balance I pray for His protection and time and again I felt like a Hand under me allowing my body to fall softly to the hard ground!! TAKE CARE ALLL

  10. Bill says:

    Acceptance of your limitations: for me trying to do more than I am capable of, understanding that my life has changed physically and I need to “SLOW DOWN” think before I make a step!
    I have realized that after every fall I’ve had, it was because I didn’t take my time. Fortunately I have reduced the number of falls I have taken in the past year. I played recreation Ice Hockey for over 20 years, falling was a big part of it. I needed to accept the fact that I have progressive MS now and can no longer do some of the physical things I did without thinking about it before 2012. Bottom line not “taking mobility for granted” I am grateful to be “above ground” keep on keepin’ on! Bill

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