Tuesday, March 18, 2014

I Keep Falling

Front view of a Hoyer lift, used for lifting p...
Hoyer lift, used for lifting patients into/out of bed. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
“Sometimes I wish for falling
Wish for the release
Wish for falling through the air
To give me some relief
Because falling's not the problem
When I'm falling I'm in peace
It's only when I hit the ground
It causes all the grief”

― Florence Welch
The type of wheelchair transfers I do are called “stand – pivot.” The reason that I can stand at all is because of the spasticity in my legs and Kim’s firm grip on the back of my pants, not because of actual standing ability. During this type of transfer there is a critical maneuver where I rotate 180° and land at my destination. It works pretty well, almost all the time.
But last Friday morning my legs lost their spasticity halfway through the pivot, and I started crumpling to the floor in slow motion. My legs were stuck in an awkward and painful position under my full body weight. “Pull me forward. Pull me forward!” I implored Kim. She was able to do that and I had a semi-smooth landing, face down on the carpeted floor.
Kim rolled me over and placed pillows under my head and under my knees. I was comfortable. We did the usual roll call of body parts and found that, once again, I had fallen without significant injury. She then went out into the garage to gather up the various pieces of our portable Hoyer lift. This would be the second time we had used this lift in the last year to raise me off the floor.
Did I mention that my daughter and her longtime boyfriend have moved into our house? There’s probably enough interesting material on this subject for a future blog post. Anyway, Nick heard Kim making noise while gathering up the Hoyer lift components, so he emerged from their luxury accommodations at the back of the house (which I fear are so cushy that they will never leave) so that he could help get me off the floor. The Hoyer lift is barely adequate for transferring a disabled person from a wheelchair to a bed, or vice versa. But this lift is not set up well for picking a large person off the floor. Therefore, Nick had to support my head and back while Kim operated the lift. Before long I was back in my wheelchair, only slightly battered and bruised from the ordeal.
Each of my transfers is now a near fall, except for the ones that are actual falls. I know that you are tired of reading about this sort of thing, and I am tired of writing about it, not to mention living through it. I realize that there are several choices for safer transfers. Instead of the stand – pivot, we can do the squat – pivot. Kim has been trained on this procedure. We can also use a slide board. I ordered one and it arrived last week. But these are merely incremental improvements. I’m inclined to make a dramatic improvement. What if there was a system that provided much safer transfers and actually allowed me to accomplish these transfers independently? How cool would that be? Well, there is such a system, and I’m trying to get my hands on one.
Stay tuned to this channel for further updates….
Here’s one parting quote on the subject of falling, by a man who ought to know.
“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”  ― Nelson Mandela
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  1. Reminds me of the great line from Toy Story: "That's not flying. It's falling with style." May we always fall with style!

  2. I include a link to this post on my own post today.

  3. Warning on the transfer board - I have a ROHO cushion in my wheelchair & an alternating air flow mattress pad on my bed. The board has to be placed under each or the ROHO will have to be patched every time. GRRR!!!


  4. Mitch, I appreciate hearing about your life as I have 3 friends with MS and want to understand your struggles. I will add my voice to pray that a solution for MS will be announced now!

  5. It's not just you, it's us too. We're either already there, not quite there, or not there yet. Thank goodness for people like you who portray a complete happy life, which, if we are honest, always includes some "falls."

  6. Stephen, I do miss watching children's movies. They always had those little nuggets of wisdom.

    Judy, thank you, thank you, thank you for mentioning me at your wonderful website.

    KK, thanks for the warning! Sounds like you found out the hard way.

    Pam, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I'm glad that you find my blog helpful.

    Daphne, I am so fortunate to have the disposition that I do. When I fall, I'm not inclined to grieve or complain; I only want to get back up!

  7. Hey Mitch, sorry to hear about your latest "adventures". Isn't life with MS exciting?

    Thinking that another possible solution for you might be a floor to ceiling grab bar, which you could place between your bed and the wheelchair that would allow you a bit more leverage while making your pivot. Probably not the perfect solution, but it just might help, and such things are available at many of the disability equipment websites.

    And just think, when you're not using it, the rest of the family can practice their pole dancing…

  8. Mitch-here's a link to the kind of device I'm talking about…


  9. Marc, thanks for the suggestion. Right now I'm "going big" but will consider this device if that falls through.

  10. Mitch, you don't mention the painfully long period of time on the way down that feels like slow-mo. I hope you are spared from that. I bought a transfer board off a local classifieds site because I knew I would likely need it someday...someday is almost here. It doesn't seem very substantial....let us know if it works. Good to have the warning from KK. I have a neighbor who uses the device you're thinking about and it seems to work well for him. One of the mobility stores I've been to has a demonstration model - maybe someplace near you has the same?

  11. Climbing, thanks for stopping by and commenting. The painfully long period on the way down was consumed, this time, by the urgent need to get my legs into a less painful position. But I know what you mean – in other falls I've had that extended period of dread, wondering how painful it will be when my fall is finally broken by the floor. I have used the slide board a couple of times. It doesn't give me transfer independence, and it's kind of slow, but it's much safer than the stand-pivot. I also have a neighbor with the ceiling mounted device I'm talking about, and I tried it out, and I like it!

  12. Ah, the Primary Progressive world. Yeah... been there, am doing that.

    I spent a lot of time doing aikido, in years past... all sorts of really great falling techniques, I've actually gone off bicycles with ZERO harm, because of such practice. Alas, all these tricks presume some sort of horizontal component, the MS "straight down and hit the ground" doesn't really accord with clever roll-and-recover techniques.

    Big thing for me is getting wheelchair into and out of truck. Truck, I can drive (hand controls), but loading the wheelchair into it, and out of it... not so much. Guy who sold me and delivered wheelchair took me through THEIR standard techniques, which alas don't work in MY truck.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same, right? Or vice versa...

  13. Robert, welcome, fellow PPMS traveler! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Good luck figuring out how to get your wheelchair in the truck.

  14. "Funny how falling feels like flying, at least for a little while." - Jeff Bridges