Are You Prepared for a Fall?
I sit amid the flood of carpet stain remover. My left leg is elongated as my right leg is at a jackknife. The cool of the fluid penetrates my sweats. Shock dissipates into pain. I try to move, but pain sears down toward my tailbone.
I sit in the dark of my tiny laundry room. My head rests on the rim of the washing machine. I catch my reflection in time to watch a tear fall from my eye.
Falling with MS
I fall more than I care to admit. I rarely hurt myself unless you count a bruised ego. Given the frequency, one fall isn’t bad. But it isn’t good, either. A fall is a fall. If they occur regularly, it is time for a change.
Writing in MS Focus Magazine, neurologist Michelle H. Cameron, MD, PT, noted that most of her patients have balance issues and fall and injure themselves often. About half of those with MS have fallen once in the past six months, and one-third have fallen several times each month during that period, she wrote.
More than half of people with MS have been injured during a fall, she added.
This is a frightening reality that is all too familiar for me.
The fall is only the beginning
I frequently use the Jacuzzi for short durations. The heat quells some of the more severe bone pain in my legs. Our rule is that I only take them when my husband is within earshot.
I shuffle when I am tired. My foot drop is ardently difficult. I swing it to create momentum.
In the dark, I follow our brick path to the Jacuzzi. I know this path by heart. With only the moon for light, I do not see the two-by-four that juts out from the lounge chair. The wood meets my metatarsal bones with force. With my towel on the path, I lie naked on the lounge. I am suddenly grateful for our house rule.
My fifth metatarsal did not heal. I endured a painful surgery, bone graft, and weeks of immobility instead. This surgery and subsequent recovery did not have to happen.
Know your MS
My MS is different than yours. The way my disease presents is unique. My gait and balance are affected by the location of my lesions. When I am tired, both issues are worse. I frequently stub my toe, bump into things, stagger, and sometimes fall.
I know this and prepare the best I can. I carry a portable cane and cooling towel. I utilize my handicapped placard to minimize the distance I walk. I wear shoes that are conducive to my needs. I meet my needs the best that I can.
Some of the medications I take affect mobility. Even when I feel stable, I respect that my body may not be. Pain medications and muscle relaxers lessen my stability. I do not use the stairs after I’ve taken medication. I do my best to stay in bed. I prepare my nightstand with water, an iPad, my cellphone, cellphone cord, books, glasses, and anything else.
Do your best
Even the best-laid plans can fail. Hence, my recent fall. But as with life, it is not how many times you fall, but how many times you get up. And I will always get up.
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, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.