Dancing in the Rain: Lessons Learned on my Personal Journey with PD (more at www.PDPlan4Life.com) Copyright 2013-16 Sheryl Jedlinski
By Sheryl Jedlinski
If we fall (like the tree in the forest), and no one notices, did we really fall? If we fall as a result of an incident that also would cause a healthy person to fall, is it a Parkinson’s fall or an ordinary fall, and why should we care? I pondered these questions from my vantage point on the sidewalk in front of my house. One minute I was showing my husband which branches I wanted him to prune from our parkway tree, and the next I was sprawled out on the cement waiting for him to notice me.
“What are you doing down there?” he finally asked, having seen nothing.
“I’m on strike and organizing a sit-in,” I answered, with my usual sarcasm.
“Did you fall?” he persisted, as he walked over to me.
That’s a pretty good bet as falling is a common occurrence among people with Parkinson’s, mainly due to our postural instability, gait impairment, and knee muscle weakness. The frequency and severity of falls tends to increase along with the advancing stages of Parkinson’s disease, and can lead to life-threatening complications, from hip fractures to head trauma. Ideally, we should focus on preventing frequent falls and minimizing injury through daily exercises that challenge and improve balance and coordination, build muscle strength, and increase flexibility.
My most recent fall was the result of carelessness more than anything else. I was walking backwards on our uneven lawn, while leaning back and looking up to get the best view of the tree we were pruning. My foot went into a divot in the lawn and down I went. Fortunately, my underused left arm took the brunt of the fall, and my knees were spared. I was feeling more anger and embarrassment than anything else.
“Anyone would fall under those conditions,” said my husband, ever my cheerleader. He held out his hand to help me up.
I thanked him, but insisted on getting up myself. It was a matter of pride. I refuse to let this disease get a leg up on me. I got up on all fours, in a perfect inverted “V,” the traditional down dog yoga position. Then I inched my feet towards my hands and slowly walked myself backwards and upright. I survived to live another day, with only a small scrape as tell tale evidence of my fall and my self-confidence still intact.
Standing there on the sidewalk, Tony wrapped his arms around me in a protective bear hug and I nuzzled my head into his chest. No words were needed. The silence said it all.