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Monday, July 16, 2012

Don't Fall for Me

Falling in love is great, falling asleep is good (unless you are driving) and falling down is bad, very bad. I wish I could write this story with my usual humor, but I can't. You see, Parkinson's disease related falls can have serious and sometimes deadly outcomes. 

Several of my neighbors have fallen in the last year and many of my Parky friends have fallen as well and for some of them, their falls proved fatal. Even my Wonderful Husband took a tumble about six months ago and still has a discolored knee to remind him to be careful. So far, I have remained upright, but I am overly cautious.

Some of the things I do to prevent myself from falling probably look funny to whoever sees me doing them, but I don't care. I always sit down to put on or take off my shoes and socks, always, even if it means sitting on a curb to remove the giant "grain of salt" sized pebble that is stabbing me in my foot as I walk with George and Freida in the mornings. Yes, I can probably still balance on one foot and do it standing up, but why take a chance on breaking my arm?

Broken arm

I sit on a chair or lean my backside up against a wall to take off or put on my shorts or jeans. Always, even in winter when the wall is cold (that will wake you up real quick). 
Chair next to closet

I take extra care when stepping up curbs, walking on uneven surfaces and navigating steps. I have tried my best to "fall proof" our home. I only use the walk-in shower which has grab rails and seating, no more tubs for me. Fancy throw rugs are history, to easy to stumble on. Even the height of our bed is designed to make it easy for me to get in and out of. There is a shelf in the garage and another one right inside the entry door, where I can set my packages so I don't try to come in the door with both hands full. 

A few Parkies I know haven't been so lucky; one has fallen multiple times, in her bathroom, because her feet and walker get tangled in the rug on the floor. Get rid of the rug, I said. But she won't. Why? Because it matches the shower curtain, towels and window coverings and it looks pretty. 

Another one has fallen both up and down her entry steps when she tries to take her two dogs out for a walk, she gets tangled in their leashes. I told her to have her son build a little fenced in area, right outside the door, so she can let the dogs go out by themselves, and then she can come down the steps, holding on to the railing, sit on a chair, put the leashes on the dogs and take them on their walk. Has she? Nope, she doesn't want to bother her son. 

Foot in a cast
Another one tried to climb up into his truck with both hands full, fell over backward and ended up with a huge knot on the back of his head and a dozen smashed eggs. All he had to do was open the other door and put the packages on the passenger seat and then his hands would have been empty. 

Why are these folks so stubborn? I don't know. If I woke up blind tomorrow morning, I wouldn't jump in my car and try to drive. I wake up every morning with Parkinson's, that's the reality. So, I sit on the side of the bed and make sure my legs are going to work before I head for the bathroom. I don't want to fall and I will do everything I can to prevent it. 

Shirley is a very good Parky friend of mine, and as her Dad was losing his battle with Parkinson's (he, too, had taken a few falls), she asked me to write a song about Angels. I wrote Angels in the Corner about a girl who was feeling hopeless, and then suddenly realized, that her Angels were in the corner, as always, watching over her, and that everything would be alright. Shirley's Dad is now one of HER Angels. 

I have plenty of Angels in MY corner, watching over me, so be careful. Please don't fall, for me.

In memory of my most recent Angels: Jim, David and Dick.

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  1. Falling is one of the things I am constantly aware of. I agree with you that it is strange how many people are stubborn, not realising how very important it is NOT to fall. I wrote about recently in my blog about non-slip tiles in the bathroom, rails to hold on to etc. etc. There are so many things that one can do to prevent falling. Good advice Bev.

  2. I went "flying" in a parking lot while on vacation in May because I didn't clear a parking lot bumper with my foot. I almost got a hairline fracture (there was a little squiggly line on my x-ray just short of a break) of my radius & I sprained my wrist. It took a long time to heal & really put a damper on our vacation, especially since it was of my dominant arm. I now have a very strong, healthy fear of parking lot bumpers! I will walk completely around them from now on.

  3. As a nurse, I observed that most people don't believe bad things will happen to them. When it does, they say, "I never thought this would happen to me..." you are one of the few wise ones! Keep it up!

  4. In all my Pd dance classes we practice not falling as well as getting up out of chair. My aide asked me why I stand up like a stripper!