Humpty Dumpty and My MS

Humpty Dumpty and My MS

I’ve met Humpty Dumpty, and he is me. I made that discovery the other night when I had a bad fall. It wasn’t off a wall; it was just off a chair, but it felt like I’d tumbled off Humpty’s high ledge.

It shouldn’t have happened. I’ve lived with MS for nearly 40 years and I’ve had my share of trips, stumbles, and falls. I’ve even written a column about how to reduce the chances of getting hurt from a fall. So how does a guy fall off of a chair, unless it’s a bar stool?

TJ the cat
TJ the cat. (Photo by Ed Tobias)

I’ll tell you how. The catalyst was a cat named TJ. I was tired. I sat on the side of the chair while getting ready for bed. My butt was half off of the seat because TJ had plopped himself on the floor in front of me, right where I’d usually put my feet. I was trying to straddle TJ while also trying to pull my left leg out of my pants. I leaned a little to my left and, uh-oh, I fell. The chair followed me down and landed on top of me. My head, leading the way to the floor, hit the closest object: the edge of the bedroom dresser.

There’s an Italian phrase that a girlfriend of mine used to describe me several decades ago: testa dura. It means “hard head.” Fortunately, she was right. Though the hit stunned me and my scalp was cut, it wasn’t a knockout blow. It didn’t take all the king’s horses and all the king’s men to put me back together again. Direct pressure on the wound for about an hour with an ice pack did the job. TJ, of course, was unhurt and ready to return for another round.

Why do I share this embarrassing story? I guess I’m telling you all this to make the point that those of us with heavy legs and dragging feet can’t ever lower our guard, not even when we think we’re safely seated. I’m going to reread the column I wrote about falling, and I suggest that you read it, too. Because you never know … especially if you own a cat.

By the way, TJ is still around, but he’s now down to only eight lives.

You’re invited to visit my personal blog at


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.

Ed Tobias is a retired broadcast journalist. Most of his 40+ year career was spent as a manager with the Associated Press in Washington, DC. Tobias was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1980 but he continued to work, full-time, meeting interesting people and traveling to interesting places, until retiring at the end of 2012.
Ed Tobias is a retired broadcast journalist. Most of his 40+ year career was spent as a manager with the Associated Press in Washington, DC. Tobias was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1980 but he continued to work, full-time, meeting interesting people and traveling to interesting places, until retiring at the end of 2012.

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    • Traci Easton says:

      That’s why I have to sit in a chair with arms instead of ones with out. I don’t have an elevated sense of self worth, just a non-feeling lower body. I am still ambulatory,just not sure where my posterior is.

  1. Ed, I am sorry to hear about your humpty dumpty fall and I am glad you are okay. About six months ago, my six year old granddaughter was in the bathtub and I was sitting on the closed toilet seat talking to her. The next thing I know I’m falling off the seat, landing on my right side. There was no one there except my granddaughter and me. I told her I was okay but was having trouble getting up. She looked at me and said “grandma, get to the bathtub and pull yourself up.” I did, after which I thanked her for her good advice and hugged her. She never showed any panic and I did not want to show any either in front of her, but it did scare me. Now, like you, I make sure I am firmly on whatever I’m sitting on.

  2. Gerri says:

    I haven’t fallen lately. My legs are getting heavier by the day. I try to walk around the block with the dog, but he is too strong for me and hurts my back. This dreaded disease is progressing. I was diagnosed with osteopenia and I worry about falls everyday.

  3. Sorry you are falling. Move that damm cat, I know you love him and all but not if you are going to fall. I haven’t fallen in a little while. I went to the hospital for pysotherapy to help strengthen my back and for balance. Take care girl.

  4. Mer says:

    My falls have come with no injuries and no witnesses. I didn’t think they counted but confessing to my new PT turned out to be a mistake.

  5. Kathleen Fulghum says:

    Very glad you’re OK, Ed. Thank you so much for all your work. Can’t say enough about your writings to my MS friends.

    I highly recommend water exercise. Strengthening that way helped me get through a fall on ice a couple of winters ago, trying to pull my scooter out of an ice patch on the sidewalk that the city hadn’t cleared. Hugs to TJ, if he’ll permit.

    • Ed Tobias says:

      Thanks, Kathleen. I’m glad that you like what I write.

      I exercise regularly. In fact, my column that will post this Friday is about that.

      TJ is still alive and doing what he does best when he’s not under my feet….sleeping.


  6. Jeanine Thiede says:

    I feel your pain. Mine started with bounced off the walls and doorways. I figured it was time to get a cane. I fell backward three times, with cane in hand, so decided it was time for a walker, again, falling backwards with walker in hands. Time to get a wheelchair, that didn’t work either, my arm muscles are torn due to trying to hold myself up from my cane and walker. I am a happy camper now. I have a scooter! I also got one of those things with handles for my toilet, I can’t fall off of it..

  7. Ruth says:

    Ed- I’m trying to strengthen my right leg with MS Gym workouts – no huge improvements yet, but still working on it!

  8. Gale Langseth Vester says:

    Yipe. I fell a couple of nights ago, and some people might suggest it was off my high horse, but this bruised only me, not any cannabis-smoking equine!

    Hope you bounce back.

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