You know that falling over thingy, that second in time when a small particle of dust jumps up in front of you, and lands a sucker punch. The specialty trick of MS and other illnesses that has Occupational Therapists walking round your house, sucking in breath, wincing and tutting at everything, and picturing in their minds removing everything and transforming your home into a safe hospital, yeah, that falling over thingy. Well I haven’t really spoken that much about it I know, from time to time I have said that I took a tumble, or related a fall from the past, but I haven’t really gone over the impact that it has had on my life.
I can remember years ago taking tumbles in the house and feeling stupid but not a stupid as the falls I took outside. Before I knew it was MS, I just told me that I was clumsy, well add falling over nothing and dropping things you get normal clumsy. I have landed up with hundreds of bruises and cuts, even broken a few small bones and knocked myself unconscious, but luck has usually been on my side. On the surface from that description it would appear that it is a minor inconvenience rather than a real problem, well don’t be deceived. When my MS became progressive this was one of the early signs and one of the scariest as well. I became unable to walk anywhere there wasn’t a wall or something to hold on to. I always had one hand ready to grab or guard against taking that unwanted tumble. I knew that when added to my unsteady walking it all added to my looking drunk when perfectly sober, strangers treated and looked at me as if I was drunk, looks of disgust and physical body swerves were an everyday reaction. I had one fall not far from my office after work, I flagged a taxi down, wobbled my way towards it and as I reached for the door handle I fell, the taxi drove away, clearly he also thought I was a drunk. That is the painful part of falling, not injuries, not bruises but people.
I would recommend strongly to anyone with this problem, get a walking stick! I tried to avoid the stick at first, I saw it as some sort of proof that I was ill, but what it was, was a flag that declared that I wasn’t drunk, I am just ill. Suddenly people didn’t look away when I got on a crowded bus, they stood up and offered me a seat, they held doors and offered assistance when they saw me struggling, they suddenly saw me as a human with an unfortunate had a problem rather than someone who had caused a problem by drinking too much. It was at this point that I decided to change my attitude to having MS. At work I started making sure that all new staff knew I wasn’t drunk and that I had MS, I talked openly about it and I did my best to answer their questions. I think that that little walking stick changed everything about my attitude and although again when I had to use a wheelchair, I at first fought it, I adjusted faster to it than I had the stick. My decision to be open about my condition continued so when I was having the Mitoxantrone/Novantrone treatment I emailed the entire company asking all staff who had any bug from a cold to measles to stay away from me, as my immune system was compromised.
Ultimately the impact on my life of that falling over thingy, is what you are reading here and in my entire blog, an attitude of wanting to gain and spread understanding so possibly the next time you see someone fall, you might help them up, before deciding they are drunk.