Sunday, April 25, 2010
Perfecting an Art
Those of us living with Kennedy's Disease have perfected the art of falling. It is not an art that any of us wanted, but over time we all find it necessary to excel in something and it might as well be falling.
There are normally three types of falls. The first is the "header." It usually starts with a stumble or loss of balance. You find that you are going down and cannot react quick enough to save yourself. The "header" is a fall that does not normally cause any serious injury since your knees, hands and arms take most of the punishment. Unfortunately, a "header" has been the cause of torn pant legs more than once. Several dress and suit slacks of mine were ruined because of these falls. When your suit pants are torn, it is an expensive fall. For years every fall of mine was a "header." It was a frustration, but not much more.
The next fall is a "behinder." These falls usually occur when you are pulling on something (i.e., a door) and you lose your balance while stepping backwards. A "behinder" can also occur when climbing stairs or stepping up. When you are on stairs or a step and you lose your balance, the results can be more serious since you are falling backwards as well as down. My most serious "behinder" took place when I was stepping into the house from the garage. I was on the second step when I lost my balance. I grabbed the doorframe, but could not hold on. I fell backwards and cracked my head on the concrete floor. I was unconscious for several minutes. An MRI showed some bleeding on the brain, but fortunately nothing more serious.
The most serious falls for me have been the "plunge." This fall occurs when a knee just gives out (buckles). When this happens I go straight down while subjecting my bones and joints to 180 pounds of twisting stress. For some reason, I progressed to the "plunge" about seven or eight years ago. It normally happens when I am fatigued. My injuries from the "plunge" have been numerous. Several times I sprained a knee. Once I tore my meniscus. Four times I fractured a fibula or anklebone. Twice I broke metatarsals. And, the worst fall was when I fractured my tibia and fibula.
This last injury, along with my doctor's recommendation, made me decide to begin using a wheelchair. Learning that I have severe osteoporosis in the left leg and the next fall could shatter the bones helped make that decision. I still perform standing exercises every day and use the walker occasionally, but now I live by the motto, "Better safe than sorry." I commented in a couple of other posts how not being able to place any weight on my left leg for three months changed our lives. It was the most serious and life-changing injury I have experienced. Fortunately, the physical therapist gave me a few exercises designed to improve the strength of my quads. These exercises really work.
My brother usually falls forward and because of that, he hardly ever experiences anything worse than a minor injury. I am certain that if I were still falling forward most of the time, I would be walking with a cane yet today. I guess I am a little jealous.
Now, while perfecting the art of falling, we also have to gain another skill. As the disease progresses, getting back up afterwards becomes more difficult. More than once I have found myself in a position or circumstance (e.g., confined space) that was almost impossible to get up from. Fortunately, in almost every circumstance, someone nearby was there to help.
How about you? What type of falls do you normally have?