Day by Day: Enjoyment of life trumps fear of falling
By LIZ THOMPSON
Feb 24, 2019
This Week News
It’s all relative.
As I listen to my daughter Mary’s busy schedule with her children, who are now young adults, I could see my own life as dull in comparison. But I do not.
I love that she is taking on new ventures in music and volunteering. She always has had a generous spirit — one of the many things I love about her.
Her challenges are different than mine. Each of us has things that push our limits in various ways — sometimes to the point we just want to crawl back under the covers and sleep a little longer.
I have lived with multiple sclerosis my entire adult life. Fourteen years ago, walking outside without a cane or walker became too risky. Falls have become my unwanted companion.
When I walk our dog, I use one of my scooters. Some people say it almost looks like he is pulling me, like a sled dog. That’s extra funny when you know my dog is a dachshund. I’m glad the sight makes people smile.
But one of my MS challenges is to stay upright and keep my legs strong. When I bought my first walker, the owner of the Arizona store had MS. She said she started using a scooter too early. I didn’t understand completely at the time, but I do now.
She told me that she should have kept walking, no matter how difficult, and used a scooter only when needed.
What I truly miss is walking easily for the sake of enjoying the outdoors or for exercise.
If I walk far, or on uneven surfaces, the risk of tripping gains momentum. When I shop, it helps to use a scooter if I’m going far.
Last year, I challenged myself to walk holding onto a cart in large stores, such as Sam’s Club. I wanted the exercise, and I wanted to walk. In smaller stores I am familiar with, I started taking my walker.
When my husband walked along with our dachshund and me last year, instead of using my scooter, I started using my walker. I had to let go of the worry that I looked older than my years.
I know all our street’s sidewalk bumps and anticipate, slow down, lift my walker and keep going.
Soon, I realized that if I held my husband’s arm and had a cane in the other hand in case I needed it, I could just walk. Our dog actually seemed to notice the difference, and his step was a little perkier when he wasn’t stopping to sniff every blade of grass.
The scooter provides a safe way to move about. That’s smart. But I, too, may have stayed in that scooter a little too long without alternating to my walking options.
For those of us who have fallen, after each incident, the fear of falling again can almost incapacitate us. I struggle to release my fear and keep moving.
With each fall, I evaluate why it happened and what, if anything, I can do to prevent another similar incident.
Falling, like MS, is unpredictable.
March is MS Awareness Month. Like the hundreds of thousands living with MS, we crave understanding without making it the focus of what others see in us.
My daughter’s challenges seemed so much more interesting when compared to me walking to the corner and back holding my husband’s arm.
But, as I said, it’s all relative.
Our grandson, Andrew, joined the Ohio Army National Guard and is at boot camp as I write. When he came home for Christmas and New Year’s break, many of us greeted him at the airport.
I took my walker. It was worth it to walk safely and have some modicum of control.
Andrew told me he was outside for drill when the first snow came. He thought, “The first snow! I should call Nana!”
Since he was young, every year, we call each other when the first snow appears. When he said this, standing there in his fatigues, I looked up and smiled.
My life is not boring.