On Friday, I fell down twice; once when my adventure partner was home and once when he was not. The second time, I spilled the drink I was carrying in my hands all over myself, and had to change clothes. The first time, I was outside doing some yard work, so it sort of looked like I had taken a seat in the grass. Two years ago, when first returning home from the hospital, I didn’t anticipate my first fall would be my last day to fall down. I am ever thankful that my PTs and OTs have taught me how to get myself back up, which, even if someone is around me, I insist on doing by myself.
I wrote the above paragraph two years ago and saved it to my draft posts. It recently caught my attention for many reasons. First, it is indeed quite true that I have fallen down many times since the above paragraph was written. Second, last week I wore a bandage on my chin due to my most recent fall. For the record, this was the only time any of my falls have resulted in bleeding.
Two years ago, during my first few falls, a student asked me what it feels like for me to fall. I spoke about my foot drop issue, shared my hope for continued recovery, and realized that I haven’t fully shared what it is like for me to fall. So, I thought I would take a moment now (yes, two years later) to do just that, because I imagine that watching me fall from the outside is much different than what I experience inside.
First, I fall because I have foot drop, not because I have balance issues. Gone are the days, thank goodness, of me getting sick from standing up (Yes, this happened January-February, 2015). Also gone are the days of me continually walking into the right wall even when I don’t mean to do so (darn left neglect…big moments folks!). 🙂 For the most part, I am usually good about lifting my leg up high enough to be able to take a step. However, if I’ve been sitting for awhile, am tired, or I get lost in thinking about something else instead of paying attention to lifting my leg up…I fall.
Second, I fall because I am carrying too many items (I use a backpack like a purse now), or forget that I cannot do the exact thing my brain is thinking I can do. I walk only around 4,000 steps a day, so I need to be stingy about how I use my steps. For example, I struggle walking through doors that self-close quickly and open from the right side. It gets frustrating, and sometimes boring, to have to consciously think about walking. The upside is that I’m much more aware of my surroundings than most people, because I’m always on the lookout for obstacles I might find challenging, as well as how to avoid or overcome them.
Third, I am usually fully aware when I’m going to fall and always try to land on my butt; admittedly, it has the most padding. 😉
Fourth, when I fall, especially if it is on my left side, it feels as though I’m falling into a hole with no bottom until I hit the ground. It is a sort of “lighter than air” feeling and seems as if there is nothing I can do about it. About a year ago, when I knew I was going down because I had sat up and turned too quickly, and this time I had too much forward momentum to fall on my butt, I braced myself for the moment of impact and was surprised to discover that my left foot was in a spot that helped me to stay on my feet. This was a pleasant discovery and something that I told myself I would repeat if it produced positive recovery results…alas, it has not, or at least not in the same way that it did that day.
Finally, I know that bumps and bruises for stroke survivors are not good ideas. Don’t worry, my blood is drawn fairly frequently to make sure that my INR is still within range. Also, I pay a lot of attention to any bruises I do receive. I do so because, even though I have a heads up that I’m going to fall, I still find myself scared after I fall. I do not need my life explosion occurring twice.