A few weeks ago I fell. It was my first official fall as a person with Parkinson’s disease, because slipping on black ice in a pre-dawn parking lot doesn’t count. That could happen to anybody.
The incident happened in the middle of the night when I woke up and needed to use the toilet. This typically never happens to me; I sleep through till dawn with no problems. But for dinner that night I, attempting to lose weight by consuming fewer calories, ludicrously ate an entire bag of fresh celery. When I went to bed, my stomach felt bloated, and in the middle of the night, I woke up with a tremendous urge to pee.
I had been experiencing festinating gait off and on for the past few months. If I work out five times a week on my spin bike or playing ping pong, I have no problems walking normally when I get out of bed (click!). But recently, I haven’t been able to keep up with my exercise regime, mainly because I feel overwhelmingly exhausted at the end of a day on my job. (As do many of my colleagues at the charter school where I work.) I call it “Zoom Fatigue.” Sometimes after work, I’ll get on my spin bike and start pedaling, only to find I’m falling asleep while I’m on the bike, and thus end the workout after ten minutes.
So now when I get up in the morning, I have to pay attention to how I’m stepping. Otherwise, the upper half of my body moves forward at a normal speed, while my legs and feet shuffle along with tiny steps forward, at the pace of a turtle. I may start to fall, but I catch myself by dive bombing onto the bed, or by putting my hands forward and grabbing both sides of a door frame, or by gripping the top of my desk/bathroom counter/kitchen counter.
This video explains it nicely:
But back to me in bed with my bulging bladder. I didn’t want to turn the lights on, so I grabbed my iPhone by my bed and held it in my left hand, using it as a flashlight. Wrong decision! When I was almost to the bathroom door, the upper part of me stayed on course but my feet were suddenly not working, as if I were wearing shoes and some jokester had tied the laces together. I fell forward, and my right hand grabbed the door frame. If I hadn’t been holding the iPhone in my left hand, I could have grasped the left side of the door frame, too, and everything would have been hunky-dory.
Instead, my body rotated as I fell to the ground. My right hand still held on to the door frame, and I landed on my left side, hurting my left shoulder and left knee. I, who had prided myself by living with Parkinson’s for ten years and never falling once. A clear case of the dictum, “Pride goeth before a fall.”
The event served as a wake-up call. I need to exercise more rigorously and more regularly. I’ve since renewed my commitment to spin bike more often, and I’ve rejoined my gym. It feels great to use the gym’s weight machines again, and my muscles have a pleasant soreness the following morning.
I look forward to happy days ahead.
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