Catch me I’m falling!
Sorry to tell you this, but when I say “catch me, I’m falling”, it is not because you have induced a swoon. This isn’t a pass; it is the unfortunate effect of having my butt, hip and thigh muscles gradually disappear. And getting up unassisted has not been a move in my repertoire for sometime. I’m sure a local Aussie Post delivery worker was happy to know I wasn’t trying out the damsel in distress routine to gain his romantic attentions when he found me soaking up the rays on my friends front lawn one fine sunny day a few years ago. I had dropped something off at her front door on a day she was out. This meant a gargantuan step to the porch (est.150-200mm – it’s a relativity thing). Both steps up and down involved a type of manic pole dancer move as I clung to the verandah railing for dear life. My descent saw me splayed across her freshly mown and lush front lawn with car keys in my hand and phone (read lifeline) in my car. Darn – what to do.
- I could sit up – yay.
- I couldn’t crawl easily due to upper body strength – boo.
- If I could crawl to the car and try to open the car door my imbalance would probably knock me back down again – boo.
- Gaz might end up missing me and come looking – semi yay.
- Kids will soon be finishing school and come walking past pointing at the new garden gnome at no.37 – semi boo.
Before complete despair took over I heard the welcoming and delightful tones of a motorcycle coming along the footpath. Here comes the local postie and my friend had mail. What a win.
Hallelujah, I sighed. He turned towards me quizzically, “Enjoying the sunshine love?”. As he walked toward me with the mail in hand I decided full disclosure was the name of the game here so I answered, “Umm well actually I don’t live here and neither am I squatting but have this deteriorating condition that means that I am unable to get myself up after I fall. Could you please get my phone from my car so I can call my husband?” “I’ll do better than that” and my wonderful saviour called Lesley (you get on first name basis pretty quickly in these circumstances) heroically wrapped his majestic arms around me as in a bear hug and lifted me effortlessly to my quaking legs and then assisted me to my car.
That was certainly one pick up and delivery he didn’t think he’d be making that day. There have been a few falls since and I have been extremely fortunate to have never had any serious consequences from them. Many others have not been so lucky. When you already have a progressively chronic and deteriorating condition, injuries are not just a temporary thing – you never seem to recover fully and the effects seem to accumulate.
When teetering and tottering is not fun
There’s nothing romantic or elegant about meeting the ground. Falling , however, typifies and can often be the first sign of a Neuro Muscular Disorder such as Adult Onset Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy (LGMD). It is typically preceded, over time, by a waddling, slow gait, limping, stumbling and tripping. Some of these actions, especially when you haven’t yet started needing a walking stick, can make you appear drunk, slow or stupid and at worst create annoyance and frustration in those around you.
I have certainly had people stare at me and audibly hear them comment that they thought I must be drunk already as I was walking into a beer garden leaning on my sister. Often times I have been very slow getting across a pedestrian crossing or simply walking through a shopping and have felt very self-conscious and even apologetic as a result. It is very easy to get impatient when you see anyone, young and old, walking gingerly. Please, be empathetic. Most of the time I would bet that they are doing all they can to get to their destination and are acutely conscious that with every step that those in a hurry could bump them and they would lose their balance in a flash.
We mostly all succumb to the inevitable mobility aids when necessary but until then all we want is to remain upright and active for as long as nature will allow. And, while it can be confronting to see someone fall, please be like Lesley the Postie and take some time to check on them; make sure they are OK and see how you can help. Very importantly – unless they know how you should lift them up and you are safely able to do so, you are best to call the ambulance to assist. Many conditions (such as LGMD) can result in other injuries from incorrect lifting or supporting techniques.
My point? Wobbly doesn’t necessarily mean drunk, slow doesn’t mean stupid, everyone needs a little help from time to time and – most importantly – we should NEVER consider getting rid of home mail delivery services!
Take care ’til next time,
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