When you tend to drag one foot, more so if tired, you really want to watch where you’re walking. Flat level floors are easier, but walking outside, in the grass or on an uneven surface, can be tricky. I remember a day my whole family was together, Easter I think, and we all decided to take a walk along the country road. It was a typical unpaved road, some pot holes and other pitfalls.
I was doing okay, carefully watching where I placed my feet until…I was distracted. My granddaughter pointed to the far side of the road, all excited on seeing horses in the field. Of course I looked, didn’t see the pot hole and set my right foot right on the edge, turning my ankle.
With MS, your body does not respond quickly to what your brain tells it to do. A ‘normal’ person would take a few quick steps forward and maintain their balance. My body took that forward motion, but my feet stayed planted where they were.
I knew I was going to fall, there was no way to avoid it, and I remember thinking what body part do I want to hit the ground first, hands, knees or face. It all happened in slow motion, I could feel myself falling and eventually, for it seemed a long time, I hit with one knee and two hands.
There was a moment of shock for all the family, where they just stood and watched me go down, and for a moment still, after I was on the ground. Then everyone moved at once, all care and concern. And then they all laughed.
“You should have seen yourself,” my daughter laughed. She demonstrated with her hand the slow motion tumble I’d taken. I could imagine it and it would have been funny. I had banged my knee and scraped my palms but otherwise all was well. The laughter was a way to defuse the situation, once they knew I wasn’t badly hurt. It was a helpless moment for all of us. I knew I was going to fall, they knew I was going to fall, and there was nothing any one of us could have done to prevent it.
My son insisted on going back for a car to drive me home, and when I felt the pain in my knee, my bad knee, I appreciated his effort.
That’s the thing with MS; you don’t have the ability to make those quick recoveries, so falls happen. If I’m walking on grass I have to pay such attention to the ground, especially if there is a crowd around where I might get jostled and thrown off balance. You have to be alert, a raised crack in the sidewalk, the edge of a carpet, any uneven surface; all are potential risks for someone like me. It means you spend more time looking at the ground than at the world around you.
On the plus side, I was still walking.