With my lunch in hand, I was heading back to the living room inspired by the thought of my two softly fried eggs, with their yokes spreading over my pancakes and dripping as I ate them. Half way across the hall, suddenly my left leg wasn’t holding me up any longer. I couldn’t reach that point where my knee should take over, straightening my leg and taking fully my weight. I could reach nothing beyond a rather odd bent seated position. I managed to bring my right leg forwards and avoided what would have been the next position, on the floor. Restoring balance was essential, just as essential as not letting my eggs slide off my plate onto the carpet. I was in clear danger of falling either because my legs just weren’t going to hold me, or the fact that I didn’t have a free hand to hold out to the wall while I regained normality. Luckily, Adam was digging about in the fridge and couldn’t see what was happening, otherwise he would have shouted which would have just made things worse. When you are fighting with your body, the last thing you need is someone taking your attention away from your dilemma. Both of my legs just felt wrong. Weak and as though neither had the strength to make it the rest of the way. There wasn’t any choice though and I had to make it through the doorway, after that, well there were plenty of spots where I could stop and sit for a second while it all improved.
The hallway has been my nemesis for years. There is nothing out there to hold onto, lean on or sit on and nowhere to add one. There is only one space that would assist with a grab rail, but it is right above the only storage heater in the house. Without that heater, the house would freeze in the winter, but once hot, well the grab rail would lose its purpose. You can’t hold onto a metal rail that is over 60 degrees. It was in the hallway that I discovered that I could no longer crawl on all fours. Something an 8-month-old can do was now impossible without crashing face first into the floor as my arms won’t hold me up any longer. Neither now have that strength. Rolling has been off my standard list of way to move around even longer than crawling, but I can still commando crawl. Loose pyjamas make it not only ungainly but difficult as my trousers keep sliding off. Any other room in the house is fine. There are things all over the place that I can rescue myself with. If I do hit the floor well I am always close to something that I can pull myself back up onto my feet with. The hallway is a void that I can’t bypass and has to be crossed several times a day. Fall out there and it is going to be a painful, slow and long time before my feet are back where they should be, blow me, taking my weight.
All I had to take were four more steps, that was all I needed. Step one found cringing in sudden sharp pain that was a total shock. I had stubbed all my toes on my left foot off the carpet. Just as my leg has failed under me, my foot was now dropped and not working properly. The next steps contained a growing fear, but momentum built up from my natural desperation to find stability took me through them. Right leg fine, left leg still didn’t have a knee, my leg was straighter, probably because I had more dragged and flung it ahead of me than taken a controlled step. Right leg again and I had made it. All that I had to do was swing myself around the open door and the arm of the small settee where I could rest was waiting. I sat there looking in wonder at the still complete plate of food that was still there in my hand. My desperation to not send it flying across the hallway making a mess of the carpet, or worse the arm of our white settee I had seen ahead of me, had saved me as well. Being a perfectionist, I maybe can’t do anything about cleaning our home any longer, but the drive to not make a mess has saved me many times. To date, I have never hit the floor while carrying anything. Maybe I should just carry a glass of coke with me where ever I go. I fear though that would be a theory that would go out of its way to prove me wrong.
I don’t know what caused it, but my legs, my left more than my right one, just didn’t feel as though they were there, and clearly didn’t have the strength to hold me. It’s far from the first time this has happened. It’s been part of my life for many years, but lately, well lately it is happening more and more. Although I have been trying not to, I am beginning to think that I have a real problem emerging. There is no longer a time of day or location where this or something similar has happened. Ever since my COPD exacerbation I have had weak legs. I kept telling myself that as my general strength returned so would my legs. Unfortunately, it has been the total opposite. It doesn’t happen every day, but it can equally happen five or six times in the same day. Some dramatic like yesterday’s lunchtime felt, to the most frequent when standing up from the sitting for a while on the settee. In fact, thinking about it, that is the place that I first felt it clearly and strongly that I just couldn’t stand unaided. Standing up, be it from a chair, my bed or even the toilet is a danger moment in one respect, but equally as I have somewhere to sit again a safe danger. That first moment of standing is the time that I feel it the most. It is like my legs are made of plasticine, clay or blancmange. Until I am vertical, I just don’t know which I will find. This recent addition of it happening while I am standing or walking isn’t good news, progression never is. I have lost count of the number of times that it has happened and that is only in the past week. How many times it has happened in the past month, well I would prefer not to think about it. On the good side, I have only failed totally and found myself on the floor twice because of it so far. One I mentioned, it was in the bedroom and I landed up sliding down the wall by the door. The other was in the kitchen, painless and recoverable, if there is a good place to fall, for me it is the kitchen. The room is so big, that I normally manage to twist so that I hit nothing other than the floor.
Right now I am not sure what I am going to do about it. I know for a fact that my walking stick is totally useless. Firstly because it has been behind several more serious accidents that I would have had if I hadn’t had it with me. Trust me, getting a walking stick caught in your clothing and making you fall, when there was no other reason, just isn’t helpful, Nor is getting the stick caught between my legs as I twisted and fell, it isn’t helpful and it is painful. My final reason should be clear to all, my arms can’t hold me when I crawl, they aren’t going to have the strength individually to support me on the wobbly point of a walking stick. I have already had the OT out here to assess our home for a wheelchair, it can’t be done. Our house is totally unsuitable for either a slim manual or electric. All our doorways are fine other than the bathroom, it is totally useless, so are our floor surfaces. The floors could be changed, but it’s impossible to change that door, it’s slim for a reason, they couldn’t make it any wider.
I am going to give it another month to see what happens. There is always a chance that things will improve, no matter how unlikely I believe that chance to be. If it suddenly gets worse, then yes I will call for help, but I don’t think that I am that far away from having to have some kind of walker, be it on wheels or just a frame. Falling held no fear for me in the past as I could get up. When you can’t just stand up and the whole issue of getting to somewhere that you can is a nightmare, everything changes. I could cope without much thought when it was a blue moon issue, that moon has gone and I need to start thinking about this with a lot more reality thrown in.
Please read my blog from 2 years ago – 26/07/2013 – No longer a book
I haven’t the slightest idea why, but today has a feeling to it that somehow means I am playing catch-up, which is complete madness as I have nothing to catch-up with. I love odd sensations like that, when somewhere in the back of your mind something is triggered and try as you might, there is neither….