In the past, I have had “good” falls and falls that have left me wondering where my damn beeper is. No matter what the situation might be, more than half of people with MS have some issues with walking and falling can be one of the scariest, and most dangerous symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis. Lack of balance, lack of feeling, spasticity, altered sensations, muscle cramping, fatigue, heat sensitivity,and dizziness are just a few of the reasons that those living with MS might find themselves suddenly crashing into the ground. The National MS Society has a great brochure about minimizing your risk of falls. If you haven’t read it, I recommend it – has some great tips to help you try and stay safe.
These days when I have a “wonky” leg day, it tends to be just one of my legs that can’t seem to get it together and work correctly. I often joke that it didn’t get the memo from my brain – which isn’t so far from the truth since it is the lesions on my brain and spinal cord that mess with my body’s attempt to send messages back and forth and make things function correctly. In the past, I have had days and moments of complete leg failure (leg fail as I call it) when both give way and just give up on working. Looking down at them, there doesn’t appear to be anything “wrong” with them, but I just can’t get them to fucking DO what I am trying to tell them to do. Whether it is just the one leg, or both, it can be extremely frustrating to realize that no matter what I do, sometimes I just can’t control everything.
As always, I tend look for the reasons to laugh and smile, even with crap like this. Even a bad fall will more than likely lead to a good story and eventually some laughter. Since the holiday season is upon us – I thought I would share a story of a fall at Christmas time way back when I was first diagnosed and how I managed to get my kids to laugh rather than be scared or alarmed.
It is a cold and rainy afternoon just weeks before Christmas and the kids and I are in the kitchen, making my grandmother’s “famous” sugar cookies. The tree we carefully selected at the tree farm stands erect in the corner twinkling with hundreds of tiny white lights and all the beautiful ornaments we have collected over the years. The fire crackles and holiday music fills the air with sounds of cheer and happiness.
There is flour all over the counters, the floor and the three kids as they sit at our kitchen island, rolling out the dough and cutting out dozens of Santas, snowmen, angles and trees. Piper, my sweet-tooth pixie spends more time eating the dough than assembling. Sam laments just how many sprinkles it takes to make the “perfect” cookie and Max gives a go at remembering the words to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (I did NOT know that RASHER and DONDER were part of the crew:)
We are on a roll, baking batch after batch to ensure plenty to hand out to friends and family over the coming weeks. As I turn back towards the counter with two more trays of golden cookies, I feel my legs giving out. Over the past months, since being given the diagnosis (AND being told it was NOT an “Oh Fuck” moment) I have learned that this lovely new “feature” to my lower extremities often happens if I over do it and stay on my feet too long. I know it is happening and that there really isn’t any way to avoid it, but I don’t want the kids to be scared or upset by seeing me “fall.” As they sit on the other side of the island, I begin my slow crumple to the ground (MUCH more pleasant than the occasional CRASH.) In a voice sure to sound like the Wicked Witch of West I announce “I’m melting….melting!”
I lay on floor, amidst the flour, fallen clumps of dough and an alarming number or sprinkles (amazing that ANY of them actually made their way onto the cookies.) Hidden by the island that stands between us, I can’t see the kids, but I can hear them, and they are laughing their asses off!
Max announces “That was a good one mom! You really looked like you were melting.”
Mission accomplished! But it’s not as if I can pop right back up and take a bow. As I explain in my post about my Naked 9-1-1 Call, when the legs go wonky and are done working, they are DONE. Nothing but rest will help. So I remain on the floor, listening to my children critiquing my performance. Apparently it was GOOD!
After a few moments Sam realizes that I am NOT getting back up and asks “Ah, mom, do you need help getting up?”
My mini knight in shining armor (or sparkly sprinkles as the case may be) comes to my rescue and with the help of his brother and sister, they get me over to a comfy chair, right in front of the tree. Piper runs upstairs and returns with my favorite blanket (a wonderful faux fur throw appreciated as much for it’s weight, so I can actually FEEL it on my now dead legs, as for it’s soft fuzziness.) Max asks if I want a glass of wine (I KNEW there was a reason he is my favorite:) I DO realize that CPS (Child Protective Services) MIGHT raise an eyebrow to my six year old serving me alcohol BUT really….who is going to report me?
As I sit in my chair, the kids return to the cookie production with Sam taking charge of oven duty and Piper dictating what shapes are needed. They not only finish all of the batches, but they actually clean up the kitchen. It may not meet “Inspector Mom’s” criteria, but that bitch is staying silent for the moment. Every once in a while, one of them will ask “are you okay mom? Can I get you anything?”
Ah yea, more wine?:)
Although “melting” to the ground was not how I had wanted to end my annual baking experience with them, I sit here filled with an immense sense of warmth and pride. I have always known it, but my kids have once again shown me just how amazing and compassionate they are. Knowing that there are three little people that will some day go out into the world with empathy and kindness as a core part of who they are makes me MELT with happiness.