When I Fall And Can't Get Up
Last updated: May 2022
When I was a kid, I remember seeing a series of commercials that would feature an elderly person who had fallen and would end up shouting “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”. The advertisements were for a device that would allow people in that situation to alert someone of their condition. The budget on these commercials was not especially large, and so, I admit, as a child, I sometimes found them a bit humorous. Maybe this is karma coming back to bite me, but in my adult life with Multiple Sclerosis, I’ve now been in that exact situation numerous times. Falling and being unable to get up on your own is terrifying and has an effect on you.
My history of falls
I’ve talked before about my problems with falling. It is an unfortunate side effect that many with Multiple Sclerosis have to endure and work hard to prevent. Muscle weakness, spasms, coordination problems, drop foot, and numbness are all common MS symptoms that increase our risk of falling. My neurologist constantly warns me about the danger and tells me I need to be more careful. He’s even told me that he sees it as my greatest risk. I know he’s right, too, because I’ve had some nasty falls that have lead to at least one bone break, numerous cuts (I once fell through a window), and many bumps and bruises. Most of the time, I’m able to dust myself off and get back to my feet on my own though.
When my arms are too weak to help me up
While I can usually get up and just rub or bandage whatever I’ve injured, that is not always the case. I’ve had a number of falls in my lifetime after which I simply couldn’t get up. I usually rely on my upper body to pull myself up and together after a fall, but sometimes, my arms and hands are just as weak and numb as my legs, which leaves me stuck, laying there, thinking I should have never giggled at those commercials as a kid. I often have help from my roommate or friends in getting back to my feet, however, I’m alone a lot, so I often have to lay there and wait for my body to begin to work again. There have been times though, when I’ve waited, and my body didn’t come around too quickly and I’ve had my roommate come home to me being sprawled out on the floor.
Being unable to get up is terrifying
Falling and being unable to get up is flat out terrifying. I can’t even begin to describe the feelings of helplessness and despair that cross over me when I’m lying there on the floor. How has this happened? I’m too young for this! What did I do to deserve this? So many questions and emotions go through me after a fall. It’s the kind of thing that can stick with you, too. The spots in the house where it’s happened, I sometimes shudder a bit when I pass by them. I clearly have an unhealthy fear of those areas, even though nothing specifically about those spots caused the falls. I’m not making my way around the house in fear or anything, but I do have moments when it crosses my mind.
I don't always take precautions
I’m always working to prevent falls, though maybe not as much as I should. I should be wearing better shoes, I should be using my cane more, and I should probably go back to physical therapy. All of those things can help to prevent future falls, yet I don’t always do them.
Wanting to feel normal
I really have no right to complain about falling, when I don’t do everything I can to prevent it. I suspect there are a lot of people like that, though. I don’t take every measure possible, not because I think I know better, but because I’m just trying to feel a little more normal. Getting past that is something I need to do a better job and something I promise I will work on. I hope that by talking about this and reminding myself just how scary it is to fall and be unable to get up, that I’ll take better precautions to prevent falls in the future. I hope you will as well.
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