This Fall Was a Real Eye-opener

John Connor avatar

by John Connor |

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Well, this was a first.

I’d fallen backward once in my power wheelchair. That was in the back of our mobility van. Hubris told me I could get away with just holding on to the handgrip for a few hundred meters. As ever, hubris was wrong!

About six months after purchasing my new and expensive glasses in late 2019, I had two MS relapses, one after another. My eyesight immediately changed. I’ve been reading on my laptop ever since, which easily enlarges the print. Even typing this, the text looks somewhat bleary — I really should blow up the size!

Ah, that’s better.

Because of this, I’m now facing a pile of unread books. At least, that’s what I tell myself. Or, indeed, you.

A photo of my unread books. OK, that’s a bit of a fib, as I wrote one of them! (Photo by John Connor)

My recent lack of wheelie driving outside caused a major misjudgment when I attempted to get up a short, and therefore steep, ramp into my optician’s office. I’d done it back in 2019, but for obvious reasons hadn’t been back since.

I banged my chair into third gear, reasoning that it was a tad steep. I gunned my electric vehicle as if I were U.S. President Joe Biden — only he was driving on a flat surface. I nearly made it, too, when somewhat spectacularly, I just kept going upward, and then crashed backward.

Luckily, I fell on my right side. As spasticity has severely limited movement in my right arm, there was no chance of me putting my arm out by reflex and possibly breaking it.

Now what?

I waited for an ambulance. Our local hospital was right around the corner.

A whole bunch of people gathered to help — the optician’s staff, the barber next door, and passersby, all summoned by a stonking crash and an immediate yelp.

I’m dead weight, with a rotund belly hidden by flowing clothes and legs engorged by lymph fluid.

Obviously, I was worried about being dropped, but all of these good Samaritans also had good backs. This wasn’t my first rodeo (an apt cliché, as crashing to the ground is an MS trope), and I got them to sit me on a chair first. It was lower than the wheelchair’s. Now I could even help, as my legs, at least, still support me when you pull me upright.

I thanked my mini-throng, then timidly went up the ramp in first gear. One of the saviors kindly followed behind to make sure I didn’t fall back again. He didn’t want the strain of lifting me up again!

Remarkably, I was still on time to my appointment. We had a few quiet minutes in the optician’s office to recover. My wife, Jane, helpfully pointed out, “At least you have something to write about this week!”

I was shaken up while sprawled on the ground with the wheelchair pinning my right leg. So, forgive me if I didn’t think to ask Jane to take a photo. I’m glad I didn’t, as her reply would have been somewhat hurtful!


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.


Wendy Hovey avatar

Wendy Hovey

This is quite enough drama for a while. I encourage you to seek opportunities to be bored. It might grow on you.

Jeffery W Fuller avatar

Jeffery W Fuller

been there and DONE THAT on my electric wheelchair! For me I was visiting friends at the Hospital and when I was leaving there was a slight slope of ground and my left tire picked up enough that I fell to the right. My head hit the grass area. I was okay, but I was totally helpless. People came running over, and I was lucky that an ambulance was just driving by. The EMT's saw me and they quickly stopped and ran over. They picked up the wheelchair and asked me a bunch of questions. It was a terrible experience being so helpless.

Brian O’Neill avatar

Brian O’Neill

Hang in there John! I’ve been in your situation before and it’s no fun not being able to move the right side in a comfortable position. I can’t move my leg but I can feel pain!? Figure that one out?? Thanks and you’re not alone! It happens to a lot of us MS’ers.

Cici Sparkman avatar

Cici Sparkman

Those bumps and scratches will make you humble fast! I had a "sudden" change in my vision w/o relapse, two years later my vision had dropped to 60-20! I had my orbs checked, they came to the conclusion I am just getting old! With MS, things change fast but not always permanently.
Diagnosed in 2003 after 10 year battle for diagnosis. RRMS

Dolores Johnson avatar

Dolores Johnson

I'm terrified that the same thing (overturn of my power wheelchair) might happen to me as I go up or down the ramps to Los Angeles' public buses. Could you imagine the mess?


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