Mr. Parkinson, “We All Fall Down”

5EA2FE752FwalkingIt’s been a while since I’ve talked about Parkinson’s Disease. The good news is I’m on my same basic medication I wrote about in Part 8- Medications… the Road to Levodopa and Part 9- Medications… All in Good Time. Though I know I will probably not decrease the amount of medication I take daily, its good not to have to increase.

There are two terms used in Parkinson’s I want to describe to you. The first one, ‘gate‘ describes the pattern of movement of the limbs of humans and animals. In PD, ‘gate’ is the slow shuffling movement of feet, arms noted for a lack of movement, shoulders and head leaning forward. This is why they call Parkinson’s the shrinking disease because your gate misleading makes it seem as though you’ve lost stature.

The second term, ‘freezing’ describes the hesitation one feels from getting up from a chair or coming to a doorway or corner. Walking is a mindful experience with PD… yes, you’re actually having to think about walking. When coming to an obstacle, indecision or freezing occurs until you can get acclimated again. The loss of focus from the mind because of disruption of its thought process is disorienting… this lapse of time in physical and mental hesitancy can cause you to fall.

In the last two months, I have fallen twice. The first fall was on concrete, but I managed, to role with it so my body absorbed most of the contact with the surface of the cement. I was a little sore and shaken, mostly my ego, and tried to write it off as an accident; “It happens to everyone”, I assured myself. Yes, I knew all about ‘freezing gate’ in my reading of PD but until now it was something that happened to other people with Parkinson’s.

My second fall, again on concrete, I was not so lucky. My I-Phone, in my left hand, hit the concrete and the glass busted then my face hit the cement along with the rest of me. I had scrapes on my face, hands, arms and legs along with blood. Both incidences happened so fast, I hadn’t had time to react.

Most of my friends thought I had gotten into a fight or at lease something of substance must have caused such a fall and the bruises I displayed. However what I was doing when I fell both times was walking. Yes, walking. It’s indeed ironic that what I do for exercise and as being good for me is also the thing that could and did harm me. And it all comes down to my gate, freezing, and not being mindful. Before I had fallen, I was ripe for an accident since my torso was already leaning forward and then freezing occurred, as my feet suddenly stop and projected me headfirst, already down for the count.

I saw my neurologist the next week and his recommendation was to walk with a cane. I must admit I hesitated at his suggestion; a little too embarrassed. But I reclaimed my ego and bought one soon after. I mean, would I rather be constantly landing on my face. I acquired a few more of these ‘walking sticks’ as it is convenient to have one in my car and in other strategic locations. I also studied a YouTube video on how to properly walk with a cane; yes there is a method to it including height, angle and how to hold it properly. It’s more like an art form, like learning a new dance step.

So does it work? I guess the real test is if I fall again which I hope doesn’t happen. However, I can see a marked improvement in how I walk which would prevent another fall. Pressure on the cane helps keep my torso straight, upright, bracing me against falling instead of its tendency to want to slouch and lean forward. The cane and its constant patterned tapping on the ground keeps me mindful of my feet while walking or you could say the cane and my feet harmonize in rhythm to each other.

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JC

I was officially diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease on October 29, 2012. These are my thoughts on Parkinson's and a variety of subjects.

26 thoughts on “Mr. Parkinson, “We All Fall Down””

  1. Interesting to know about the ‘freezing’ which I was not aware of. I think walking with a cane, looks a whole lot more dignified (as well as being safer) than staggering without, so I’m glad you took this option. I’m hoping that there will be no more falls for you.

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    1. Thanks for your comment. Yes it is more dignified than stumbling about. I should have done this months ago. I have more confidence now in my movements.

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  2. I love your calm and humour about the difficulty you are facing.
    Your post also teaches so much of real and relevant facts and feelings.
    Yes, ego can be a hard thing to beat but well worth it.
    I hope your canes are really snazzy.

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    1. Thank you so much for your thoughtful words! When I was diagnosed I had a chance meeting with a woman who’s sister had been diagnosed a month before. She told me her sister stayed in bed for 3 weeks and still was having a hard time. I decided at that time that I wouldn’t be a victim but a survivor. And the blog and writing came out of that. I guess there is always a silver lining just as in the darkest night there is always a star.

      And as for the cane, I’ve been scowering estate sales and have bought a few… the older ones have character!

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  3. I notice a distinct difference in my support even when I use a walking stick when I’m hiking. I can see how a cane could help you. Especially if it aligns your torso, it will probably have additional benefits in not stressing out your body through misalignment issues.

    I don’t have Parkinson’s, but I have an issue with my ankle where it will decide to give out completely for no reason or warning, and I go crashing to the ground. I have a great respect for how hard falls can be now. I used to think falling was just people crumbling to the ground (way back when I was an innocent).

    I’m glad you’re doing well with the cane! ❤

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    1. I should have started with a cane months ago. Your right, it does give you more aid in walking and confidence. I feel like I’m walking like a normal human being. And I am like you, that crashing to the ground isn’t any fun. Thanks for your comment! it is very much appreciated!

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  4. Ouch!
    Sorry to hear about the falls.
    The mind is a complocated thing, for sure.
    Using a cane can take some getting used to, as it is a clear and obvious marker that you have PD, but if it protects your face, it can’t be all bad.

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    1. Thanks for the comments. It is true, a cane does take some getting use too… like walking with three legs. But in the least it keeps me straight and looking forward, faced ahead.

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  5. Since my routine is to write a blog and then explore what’s going on with people I follow and then explore the rest of the press reader I always end up on your blog after you’ve ended up on mine! But I enjoy every bit of it. I could write, well, what matters is that you get back up and what-not but I feel you already know that – I can see it in your writing! But this post kind of shook me… I mentioned once that my grandfather had Parkinson. And since it was never discussed and I always knew him like that, I just had images of him experiencing what you’re describing and made me feel closer to him, even though he’s not here anymore. Maybe even as if I now know him a bit better even if I can’t talk to him. It’s a an amazing blog you have, I really appreciate it. I has many levels I guess – maybe someone else like me would get to understand other people’s stories better. We all have our struggles and one thing I wish is for people to judge less and take the time to step out of their own shoes and at least try to walk a mile in somebody else’s. It’s not as easy as it sounds and your posts really help me do that. They also make me feel really calm because of the connection to my grandfather. There was nothing calmer in the world than him even with Parkinson’s as a companion. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment. I wish I would have known your grandfather; he sounds wonderfuI. I think we would have been friends. I am sure that he felt the same side effects and ailments as I do and in my words I do speak for him as well as others who have gone before. I guess that is why I go through much effort to get it right! I know someone who wrote an E-book about his life with PD and he is really angry! I came away from reading it and I knew I didn’t want to be that person.

      I love your last line, “with Parkinson’s as a companion”, I guess PD and I are companions. And through that companionship, we touch lives.When I started writing this blog, I thought it might reach a few a people but never could I have envisioned the thirst others have for knowledge of things they would ordinarily be too shy to ask. I guess blogging gives you that extra confidence.

      Thanks again for your lovely words. I am glad that mine bring you pleasant memories.

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