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I’m frustrated with feeling at fault for my frequent falling


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banner image for "Float Like a Buttahfly," a column by Kerry Wong, depicting a butterfly winding through the sky

I think I need a Bubble Wrap suit. Yep — a full-sized, head-to-toe suit made of industrial-strength protective Bubble Wrap. That (not Obi-Wan) just might be my only hope.

My medical records indicate that I’m a “fall risk.” As much as I hate seeing that, I get it. I fall far too often. Perhaps some of it is simple clumsiness, but often it isn’t. I hear myself telling the doctors, therapists, and anyone who’ll listen that it’s “not my fault.”

It wasn’t my fault when I had a syncopal (fainting) episode and fell in my living room. That was postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, a result of how sarcoidosis affects my nervous system.

Or when I passed out again and fell in my entryway. I broke my foot that time.

It wasn’t totally my fault when I lost my balance on steps that had no handrail, breaking my foot again.

There have been plenty of times that I’ve fallen because of broken sidewalks, wet floors, and unseen items in my path.

Maybe I need to be more aware of my surroundings. I can own that, at least partially. But when I’m taking extra safety precautions and I still fall, it adds insult to injury, which is especially frustrating.

Still I fall

I’ve spent the past several years walking with a limp that adapts itself to my arthritic hip, twice-broken foot, swollen ankles, painful knees, and multiple radiculopathies (herniated discs and pinched nerves) throughout my spine — whichever is causing the most pain at the moment. I’ve used mobility aids as needed, including a cane, rollator, rolling walker, knee-walker, and motorized scooter. I’ve had grab bars installed in my bathroom and used a chair or transfer bench as needed to shower. I’ve stopped wearing shoes with even the slightest heel. And still, I fall.

I’ve had trigger point injections, nerve blocks, and acupuncture to alleviate the pain that throws me off balance. I’ve had chiropractic adjustments and a total hip replacement to “fix” the mechanical issues. I’ve done physical therapy to improve strength, balance, and gait. And still, I fall.

My shower chair fell over — with me on it.

I slipped off of my transfer bench, and then it fell on top of me.

I’ve been doing much better with my post-surgery physical therapy. I’ve even stopped needing a cane for the first time in eight years. (I use a motorized scooter for longer distances, though, because pulmonary sarcoidosis makes it harder to breathe.) And still, I fall.

Last week, we had to move some things around in my apartment so the superintendent could come in and access the pipes. My husband moved all he could, leaving a clear path. Just outside that clear path, I tripped on the carpet and hit the floor — hard. My knee took the brunt of the impact, but, as the nursery rhyme says, “The knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone/ The thigh bone’s connected to the hip bone,” so my not-yet-fully-recovered hip is hurting a lot more now, too.

Though I’ve been discharged from physical therapy, I have at-home exercises to continue the work. The other day, when I lay down for the initial stretch, I almost fell off the bed. Almost! Yay! I held on for dear life and was able to sit upright. But when I put my feet on the floor for the next exercise, I started sliding and couldn’t catch myself. Even wearing nonslip socks (with the grippy rubber on the bottom), I still slipped. And down I went. Again.

Part of me just wanted to stay on the floor, crying. I didn’t get hurt that time — I was close to the floor already, and it seemed to happen in slow motion, so the impact wasn’t too bad (and the extra cushioning from landing on my behind surely helped).

But this is the kind of thing that feels like it will break me — emotionally, if not physically. It’s when I “do everything right” and things still find a way to go wrong that I begin to feel helpless and hopeless. I try to laugh about it, brush it off, and pretend it doesn’t bother me. I focus on decorating my mobility aids so I see the cute hippie style more than yet another injury.

As my mind swirls back to that “not my fault” defense, I begin to get mad at myself. Surprisingly, it’s not for falling, or the many reasons why it happens. It’s the idea that I need to defend myself at all, as though any of this — being sick, being hurt, being disabled — could be my fault. As much as I know it’s not, that’s something I have to remind myself often.

Instead, another song plays in my head:

“I get knocked down, but I get up again/ You’re never gonna keep me down.” — Chumbawamba, “Tubthumping”

Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.

The post I’m frustrated with feeling at fault for my frequent falling appeared first on Sarcoidosis News.

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