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MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
NEWS

When I Fall

Posted on August 27, 2021
Article written by
Francie MacDougall

My falls used to be big deals, causing a dash to the emergency room for stitches — or sometimes even an ambulance ride. I used to take what a friend called the “Lipton Iced Tea Plunge,” thanks to rigid limbs caused by early morning spasticity.

More recently, with my walker, my falls are slow and steady. The one that stands out most was a fall I had a few years ago. My daughter needed a dress for a high school dance, and she wanted something “ta-da!” So we went to a proper store, rather than heading to the thrift shop.

She found an agile young sales staff member to help her, and they dashed off to the fitting rooms to try things on. I made my way in slowly, navigating flimsy throw rugs that looked great on the floor but were rough to traverse with a drop foot.

An older woman greeted me with a welcome smile, distracting me from my foot lifts. My first words to her were, “I’m going to fall now.” I said it as warmly as a hello, smiling as I continued to hold her gaze. As my foot stayed with the corner of the rug, my hands held onto the walker handles. I went down — knee over knee until I was sitting (or rather sprawled out) on the floor.

As with most falls, the only thing I hurt was my pride. My greeter was stunned, looking left and right for a way to hide. She couldn’t have helped me or stopped my fall. Thankfully, no one really noticed — or they pretended not to.

I sat still, gathered my composure and my legs, and slowly lifted myself up — with the help of someone, I’m sure. I made my way to the fitting room, collapsed into a chair, and exhaled. Suddenly, I didn’t care that we were in a fancy shop. All pretenses were gone. I was liberated.

We found a great dress at a deep discount, and I rode the walker out, breaking the “walker police” rules and feeling somehow relieved.

I realized then that my life is so ruled by my fear of falling that I live in a constant state of tension. To get the falling out of the way was a release and a great reminder to keep it all in perspective.

MyMSTeam columnists discuss multiple sclerosis from a specific point of view. Columnists' articles don’t reflect the opinions of MyMSTeam staff, medical experts, partners, advertisers, or sponsors. MyMSTeam content isn't intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.
Francie MacDougall is a freelance writer who lives in Birmingham, Alabama. She was diagnosed with MS in 1990. Learn more about her here.

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