Tag Archives: falling over

Going Round In Circles

circles When I’m experiencing them, I’m never quite sure if a sudden surge in MS symptoms is a relapse or not.

I only get the definitive answer when I wake up one morning (days, weeks, months after) and I just know it’s over – it’s kind of a retrospective thing.

Today, hallelujah, is one of those days. The murky fog has cleared, my energy is restored to its usual low level and the world seems a much brighter place. I look back over the last couple of weeks and realise just how awful things were.

To begin with, I ignored the numbness down my right side, the dodgy tingling hand, the weak arm. Then came the beyond-out-of-proportion tiredness and jelly-brain. As is usual with a relapse, my world shrank. I did the bare minimum and I did it badly. Work was a nightmare (Boss not happy) and when I got home I slept (Teenager not happy), woke up and barely moved from my sofa.

After that came the symptom that left me stunned – my body seemed to want to pull to the right, so walking in a straight line was a bit tricky. I ended up turning right an awful lot, so much so that I might as well have been walking in circles. I slammed into walls, fell with a thud into my washing machine and tripped down five stairs, ending up lying dazed on the floor, squished between the bottom stair and my bureau, finding a long-lost catnip ball in the process.

The most worrying episode was when I was in the shower the other day. Again, my body wanted to jerk to the right. Unfortunately this meant I fell out of the shower and cracked my head against the toilet. As I was lying there, I was ever so grateful I hadn’t knocked myself out as the thought of paramedics finding me naked on the floor, crying and trying to cover up with a single flannel was unbearable.

After counting the cobwebs on the ceiling and noting the gaps in the silicone seal around the shower screen, I staggered to my feet, put my dressing gown on and sulked on the sofa for the rest of the day. Again.

So it’s over, for now; I’m back to the baseline, which seems to rise with every relapse. Whereas before I fretted about every tiny symptom, diligently jotting them down in my ‘MS Symptom’ book (one from 2013 – ‘my nose seems to itch more and swallowing is a bit of an issue’), I now have a much more ‘yeah, yeah’ attitude. It’s about accepting it and living day to day.

I can say that now. If you’d asked me last week however, I’d have given you a withering look and sighed.


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MS Christmas Survival Guide

santa asleepChristmas is the one time in the year us peeps with MS can really blend in.

Over the next two weeks, it will be perfectly socially acceptable for me to nod off at odd times of the day, stumble and talk gibberish. Last Christmas, I fell up the stairs, followed by a round of applause.

However, a little forward- planning is still essential, so here is my quick guide to surviving the festive frolics:

  • Internet shopping – it’s still not too late! I have not had to brave any crowds, queue for hours or fight over the last Christmas pudding. Plus, I have a rather handsome postman I have seen so often I’m sure the neighbours think I’m having a clandestine affair (I wish).
  • Sleep – make the most of this time. No need to explain why you’ve dozed off in front of the telly for the third time that day, or fallen asleep face-down in your turkey dinner. People will laugh rather than gasp. They may even take a photo and put it on Twitter. Instant fame guaranteed.
  • Stumbling/tripping – let’s face it, everyone will be doing a lot of this. It’s practically mandatory. Why not have a festive quiz? If you trip, turn to your assembled family and say, ‘aha! Now was that MS or the extra-strong mulled wine?’ Winner gets the last purple Quality Street.
  • Cog fog – this is especially handy during Christmas. When (not if) a family argument starts and you’re asked if Auntie Doreen really did say that terrible thing about Auntie Doris thirty years ago, just put on your most tragic expression and tell Auntie Dot that you’re a hopeless case, you can’t even remember what you had for dinner yesterday.
  • Extra help – if you’re having a bad MS day, waylay a passing small(ish) child and tell them you want to play a game. Little kids love dressing up and pretending, so why not pop an apron on them and tell them you’ll give them two quid if they play at being a maid, like in Downton Abbey. That way you can have a steady stream of Twiglets, refills, magazines and chocolates delivered straight to your sofa. Plus you get extra Brownie points for entertaining a child for seven hours.

So, I wish you all a very merry (hic) Christmas. Hold your heads up high (with a sneaky peek at your feet), go forth and celebrate.

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Bring On The Snow….

We are overjoyed in our little household that there may be snow on the way. The Teenager is happy because it could mean a day or two off school. I’m obviously not happy about that, but I love snow. Apart from it looking pretty, I love it because it makes some of MS’s horrible side-effects socially acceptable. Honestly!

Let me explain. I have foot drop. Some days it doesn’t happen (but you’re always waiting for it to) and some days it’s constant. Wandering around the shops is not always an attractive option, It’s more a case of smash and grab a few groceries and head home. But if it snows, we all belong to The Ministry of Silly Walks. Foot drop is hidden when you’re trudging through snow. Everyone is watching where they put their feet, not just me. It’s lovely.

And if I fall over, well, lots of people do in the snow, and at least there should be a soft landing. I also like the suspension of real life and the feeling that we’re in the grip of a national crisis. We start to look out for our neighbours, whoever gets to the shops first buys milk for everyone and we smile as we walk/stumble past other people in the street.

I used to live in a country where it snowed for over half the year. Everyone was pretty blasé about it but I was like a kid at Christmas, ‘ooooh it’s snowing, look!’ ‘Yes, dear, it does that a lot here.’ Snow wasn’t very kind to me back then though. I skidded in my car and ended upside down at the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere. I clambered out and walked home, crying all the way. I wasn’t hurt, just stunned that snow could be so mean.

Then there was the time I was convinced I’d make a great skier. How hard could it be? Answer – very difficult when everyone else in that country was born with skis strapped to their feet. On the nursery slope (called nursery for a very, very good reason), toddlers whizzed past me at electrifying speed pausing only to point at the adult inching painfully forwards, legs akimbo. I called it a day and never went back.

Anyway, I am watching all the weather forecasts, as is The Teenager. Please, please bring snow!!

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Walking Stick Chic

Gandalf has one, Charlie Chaplin was famous for his and Brad Pitt was recently spotted with one. So why am I so reluctant to use a walking stick when I need to?

This came up for discussion last week in the Fatigue Management course, when I wailed about how scary it was to walk to the loo in a busy pub or restaurant (I have been known to trip and fall spectacularly, in full cartoon-mode). I can sit there for hours, carefully plotting the best route, working out how slippy the floor is and counting how many people I could quite possibly fall over in front of. If I don’t know where the loos are, I will send a friend first and extract every last bit of information from them. ‘How far did you say? Big plant to watch out for? Carpet or wooden flooring?’. And so on.

The suggestion from the group was that I should carry one of those folding ones in my bag and just use it for extra balance when I need to. It’s a huge psychological step though, isn’t it? It’s almost the same as the first time you go outside with a pram – you think everyone is looking at you and it takes a while to get used to it.

And how on earth do you actually walk with it? I think I may need a few trial runs. I will go out when it is dark, in dark clothing to a very dark place and give it a go. Do you put the stick down first, then walk or walk then put the stick down? What’s the rhythm? What if I trip over the stick?

I had a chat with a friend a while back about this conundrum. She put her hand on my arm and said, ‘Daaaarling (she’s a bit posh), never fear! Why do you think all the best ballet teachers have one? It gives them authority, it is chic and makes a statement’. Fair point. So the last time I was in town, I scanned the crowds, picking out every single person with a stick. I failed to find a single chic person. The majority were eligible for free bus passes. Where are all the young people with sticks? Where do they hide?

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