Posts Tagged ‘ falling ’


“I have had a better hold on my symptoms for the last several months,” says the silver lining proudly. And for that I am proud, and I am grateful. Things started getting rougher right around Christmas, culminating in a full week of the kind of daily pseudo-exacerbations that really make one tickle the chin about needing the prefix “pseudo.”

air-stone-2The end of last week began seeing the escalation from moderate dizziness/clumsiness to the kind of fishtank-aerator-inside-the-body level of disability that brought me more than once to tears. Yesterday was less severe a day, so it gives me hope for today being a better grasp at baseline.

Monday I fell out of the chair at my PT’s office. Went to sit, ass off-center just enough to pivot the seat with my body towards the ground. My arms are still luckily quick to respond, and kept me from eating the trash can. I don’t know whether to be embarrassed or glad that there was a witness.

Despite the best efforts of Urogynecology, Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy, Myrbetriq, and even (physician-recommended) Dr. McGillicutty’s Wand for Female Hysterics, I am still sleeping poorly. My bladder wakes me up 3-6 times a night now — an improvement over 12+ times each night, but doesn’t address a now infamous inability to go back to sleep after stumbling across the hall. No matter how tired I am or how many bubbles are rocketing through my extremities.

But today is better than yesterday, and I netted 6 hours of sleep (in various lengths of time) last night. Despite a bad week, I worked with clients and even picked up a new one. I am trying to move away from carbs to vegetables again (it was cold and festive for a while, damnit). Tonight’s dinner was created with less difficulty, but all the love: broccoli soup from scratch for optimal cruciferous goodness.

That is why the house smells like farts. The soup. Really.




As an Art


While almost a proper half lotus pose, Lemur does not mean to insinuate the tongue thing is proper yoga studio etiquette.

I fell again like a pro last night. About 1am I woke for another trip to the bathroom and bounced against the hallway walls a little more than usual; I thought only casually of that because my head was throbbing. I went into the normal post-bedtime routine to which I have trained myself:

  1. Enter bathroom: right turn.
  2. Face commode: right turn.
  3. Turn to sit on commode: 2 right turns.
  4. Sit on commode: Align Achilles tendons against the Squatty Potty and begin to assume Utkatasana (that’s Sanskrit for “chair pose,” and Sanskrit is “yoga talk”) and reach porcelain sitting safety.

video-watchIdeally I would stop after steps 1-3 to reorient myself before turning again, but desire to get back under the covers before I become completely cognizant and awake often keeps me from adhering to that little golden rule. This time it was during step 3 that I began to lose dominion. In that brief trice between “realizing you’re falling” and “hitting the ground,” yoga saved the day. Well knowing both that to do a proper Utkatasana one must pull their hips back, and that if I didn’t change my current trajectory it would be a much more injurious affair, I was able to twist my hips and pull them back quickly enough to end up roughly seated. I fell like a queen to her throne, yo!

Do I seem a bit too excited about losing, then consciously regaining control over a body that excels at taking it away? It’s all the toilet talk, isn’t it?

I’ve got more than plumbing plunges under my belt, and they live the expanse between “Even understanding that a fall just happened” and “Getting up and walking away quickly out of embarrassment until anyone who might’ve seen it can no longer see me” to “Making comedy out of tragedy” to “Turning tragedy into scholarship.”

Don’t get me wrong, I do mean to brag — I’ve gotten very good at falling.

  •     That time I fell down the stairs and grabbed the banister to still hit the landing on my feet.
  •     That time I was able to twist my fall so as to hold one hot, heavy bowl of Indian food stable while simultaneously dropping the other without spilling into a basket of laundry.
  •     That time I fell down the stairs and ruptured my Achilles tendon two nights before flying to NYC and walking the town with my brand new wife.
  •     That time I never stopped waving “hello” as I went down.

    There’s a time and a place for everything and it’s called “college.”

  •     That time I plunged spread-eagle and ended facing an inexplicable direction during the lunch rush of a cafe I worked at and the whole restaurant got quiet.
  •     That time my ex saw me fall in the street and instead of helping me back up, walked away laughing.
  •     That time I fell flat-backwards off a 4′ concrete pillar onto cobblestones.
  •     That time the stairs beside said pillar were iced over and I flew in the air just to have all 300lbs of me land directly on their jutting edges.

Those stories and more should earn me professorship at the school of hard knocks. I can’t not laugh at myself when it happens in public now — even if it hurt, a chuckle takes any maudlin out of the situation for both myself and innocent onlookers. Last night’s fall was a success, not just a misfiring of neurons –even alone I can cachinnate, but this time in victory instead of discomfiture.

Falls — Noun and Verb

Issaqueena Falls

Issaqueena Falls

An uninjurious fall or two was a pittance of payment for a visit to [a small number of] the waterfalls of Oconee County. The park at Chau Ram was the first stop, but was gated until (as was posted) March 2014. Curses! The first falls to which we in earnest arrived just happened to coincide with my daily “spell.” They also happened to be the most treacherous (three words: “wet rocky precipice”) of stops my wife had lovingly researched the difficulty of. Had I not been in a state this wouldn’t have been a hard piece of nature to traverse — I grew up on a crik (“creek”), and spent a childhood learning the careful methodology of treading river river rocks.*


[insert Blair Witch Project acid trip]

The Brasstown Falls, however, were a sudden stranger — autumn leaves plastered the small canyon and flickered around me like a Blair Witch Project acid trip. Hell, even Cowboy was scared of this one, and Cat thankfully took hold of both dogs while I focused on safe navigation with cane. There was a tiny spill over some larger precipice rocks, then one more full-body sudden descent into a soft, mud-n-moss capped hillside. I engineered that one like a pro. My Physical Therapists would have been proud of the implementation of their teaching; on the trek back I kept my gaze focused on the path before me (neck/body movements exacerbate symptoms), engaged my abdominals for stability and counted each footstep as though I were in one of their obstacle courses.


spot the beaver dam

The next falls were easy-as-pie to reach, and stunning. The last ones we hit before dark actually never got found, but the walking was intense through, around, and under trees downed, tiny and low. It was an ambitious endeavor, but I felt more victorious than pained when I emerged without falling once on this trail.

I was glad for the overcast of tired rainclouds and forest canopy. Glad, too, for long stretches of time sitting in the same position while driving, for small town diners and gorgeous independent bookstores. Our dogs were thrilled with the entire day (in addition to hundreds of new odors to discover, they each got half a sausage biscuit and some boiled peanuts… it was their Daycation too).

that smile is my heart

that smile is my heart

What I come away most grateful with is knowing that, even when she gets a wild nature hair up her bum, my wife plans for the accommodations I need and keeps an eye on the terrain for me when I can’t control the movements of my own. She drew up the routes to all of these very-backwoods locations and did all of the driving… after making sure the kitchen trash was empty, my coffee pot was clean, the dogs were fed and other various preparatory tasks.

*… And also that most of the shark teeth and vertebrae excavated there came from the Oligocene epoch. The one bone fragment I treasured most I thought, as an amateur paleontologist, was perhaps an even more prizable fossil from the Plesiosauria family. Adult hindsight suggests it was a deer tooth from neighboring hunters.

Bedknocks and Broomsticks (ft. Lots of Italics)

I could easily hold Doctorates in both "Fall Avoidance" and "Falling as Contemporary Dance."

I could easily hold Doctorates in both “Fall Avoidance” and “Falling as Contemporary Dance.”

So I finally realized how it happens that I repeatedly injure myself sweeping. It’s taken hard jabs in the eye, throat and mouth… and let me tell you, a joust in the teeth from an implement being controlled by my unintentional strength and dysmetria smarts both the body and mind.

Here’s how that happens (most often… there have been other broom-related injuries that, were they witnessed by another sentient being, would be laughable):

  1. I start sweeping from the edges into the center of any given room.
  2. I thereby end up sweeping the room in smaller and smaller circles until all [dander, hair, broken dreams, onion peels, whatever] is in a single little pile.
  3. I bend over to skim that funk into the dustpan.
  4. I stab myself in the [eye, throat, soft palette] with the end of the broom handle. This, I realized in a much-belated flash of brilliance, happens because I am taller then the broom and do not understand the distance that exists between my intent and the blunt trauma which invariaby awaits it. Every. Time.
"No no -- I'm not hurt, I'm HILARIOUS!"

“No no — I’m not hurt, I’m HILARIOUS!”

Doing something over and over again while each time expecting a different result is one of the definitions of insanity, right? I am fortunate that it does not apply to this situation because I have come to learn to expect some household chores to end badly.

I started pretending to run into things in middle school to cover up really running into things — it made people laugh, and I much preferred that to spreading anxiety. In college, I fancied myself the dorm’s embodiment of Jack Tripper (from Three’s Company). In my twenties I had developed a standard public reaction to the combination of alarm/humor felt by strangers and friends alike who were witness to something from my clumsy/potentially injurious repertoire: with a laugh I’d wave, and say “Oh, slapstick just follows me like around a dark cloud.”

479857_183082591870189_891939646_nLaughter is like medicine to what are frequently just the silly, seemingly scripted events of depth perception and hulk-fistedness; it is for that reason that I feel entitled to having someone else see (and maybe explain to me) what just happened up there. With that broom. I am not proud of how long it’s taken me to understand that doing something by turning in ever-tightening circles with the needed end result being to bend over is in almost every way the opposite of what I can do without injury.

I’mma chalk this up to “better late than never!” and have someone else mop the kitchen. Traversing even a one story L-shaped staircase can blow my sense of grounding and spatial awareness like a child’s pinwheel; if every fiber of my being demands I clean that floor, there must be a new way out there that I just need to learn.

MS is fatal, isn’t it?

65604_551557131563260_672011386_nThanks to the UK’s MS Society for ads like this. There are so many very basic MS questions that we all will be asked, and so little in the way of basic answers that can be returned. “How are you today?” is a loaded question that has taken many of my adult years to understand how to reply. Well how to reply without making people very uncomfortable, that is.

I have been living with Multiple Sclerosis for approximately twenty years. This astonishes many people who’ve known me since before high school, and I often see the same (in a generalized nutshell) reactionary procession on a face I’ve just shared my Dx with: surprise, then processing — remembering that time I [fell, dropped a glass, tripped, used the wrong word, aspirated and drooled on their floor], blaming themselves a little for not having been the one to call my health out on it then asking the first question that comes to mind in order to fill the brief pause they’ve unintentionally allowed. I’ve been the same way for most of my own life when faced with unsavory information that validates my fears about the validity of human existence… I’m guessing most people are taken aback at least a little when such fatalistic gems are offered by people they care about.

B001BFRPVU-4But facts are saviors, not sins. In the two decades during which I was still growing, MS became my “normal” before I ever knew something was “wrong with me.” I have to use a lot of quotation marks here as our culture no longer adequately covers certain ideas with a dictionary. When I talk about living in a “state fair funhouse nightmare,” I am using words that will convey the way I feel much of the time. “Dizzy” doesn’t cover it — the entire world often exists to me at an 87° angle, my vision comes in and out of [focus, double, depth perception]. I understand my world to be at varying stages of a very long hall of mirrors. It has been like this since a 2003 exacerbation, and I am begrudgingly used to it. Could I live any other way but to be?

Turns out that I have unwittingly become very good at falling. This is not a talent, per se — at least, not one you would have really ever given much thought to. It’s no playing the piano (I cannot play the piano). I’ve got about 10-12 good “can you beLIEVE I didn’t get more hurt than that!?” fall stories which could be the fodder for a very nice short story anthology. watch-for-ice-polarbearI have fallen backwards off of a 5′ high wall onto a brick landing. I have fallen down many staircases and used banisters Cirque du Soleil-style for prevention. I once saved 2lbs of Indian food from spilling during a fall by directing my fall into a roll so I could safely drop the bowls into a basket of clean laundry (where they were cushioned from toppling) before hitting the ground on a well-padded haunch. That padding has helped more in the past than it does now — when I fell off that wall in college I was still at 300+lbs (what a sight it must’ve been!).

But I am more than crashing well into the ground. I am more than my ability to type, but not always to read. I am more than the fatigue that keeps me seated for longer in a day than I’d like. It sure doesn’t always feel like I am, but I can remind myself in places like an internet blog so that I can check in on this self when the more dour self appears.

I have spent my life learning, and re-learning how to live in the pale machine I was born into; it has taken different courses, but who among us has a life that hasn’t veered? How long have you been living with MS, and what are your best ways of coping with your worst moments?