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“I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!”

June 3, 2012

Back in 1989, this commercial began to run for what is really a very valuable service. But the hamminess of the acting made it an immediate sensation because of its mockability. The immortal moment is, of course, when “Mrs Fletcher,” lying in the bathroom, calls out, “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!”

Yesterday, the discussion on the CPS Alliance group was off falling. Today it’s about the *physical* ct of getting up. So many of us cannot get up when we are in a prone position! It doesn’t matter if we’ve fallen, or gotten down on the ground willingly. The ability to get back up on our feet is severely compromised. Zooky and Ursula mentioned this when they described their falling incidents, and then Ursula asked if there were other members, non-strokees, who have problems arising form a  prone position.” First Kat, and then KittyMom replied:

“I haven’t been able to get up from a prone position since I was about 28; I’m 41 now.  Never had a stroke.  I did have a spinal injury that didn’t seem to be TOO bad in 2002; tendons torn from neck to hips, but nothing broken and no hospitalization.  I’ve had severe & increasing pain my entire life, and just last month I finally found a doctor that actually wants to run actual diagnostics on me and send me to specialists; he’s sure that the *main* cause of all of this for me is autoimmune (though the car accident in 2002 certainly didn’t help matters any), and considering my life-long symptoms and my family history, I’ve believed this for years.

“Even to get out of bed, I have to first carefully roll over onto my side and then use my arms to slowly ease myself to a sitting position before I can get up.  Forget the floor, there’s NO WAY that I can get up from there unless someone assists me almost to the point of picking me up themselves, and yes, I live in daily fear of falling and especially when I am home alone!  It’s not just because of the pain (though that is a contributor)… I simply can’t get my body to do what my mind tells it to do.” – Kat

KittyMom concurred:

“I Ican get into the prone position and up, but very, very carefully and as long as I have a pillow or cushion of sorts to place my knees on. But when getting up I have to have a chair, or something stable to pull myself up.
Mobility is becoming more and more difficult and painful, as CPS continues to ‘evolve’ from (vascular malformation) thalamic bleed and surgery 2 yrs. ago. Muscles of affected side are stiff. Am retrying Baclofen v-e-r-y slowly, hoping for some relief, as well as tolerance for side effects. Too soon to tell…”

This has been true for me, as well, ever since I hit the floor following my stroke. I have learned over the past four years the ways in which I can roll over, so that my “good side” is lying on the floor. Then I can push myself up, with great difficulty. It is always easier to get up off the ground when there is a prop to use. I plan ahead when I am doing something that involves work close to ground level, making sure that there will be a chair, a step stool, a bucket, or some other dependable object that I can use as an aid to push against.

One thing I’ve also noticed is that it’s even more difficult to get up from a seated position that is low to the ground, such as the lower steps of a ladder – anything lower than 18 inches. It’s as if the knee and thigh on my CPS side just don’t have sufficient strength to lift me.

Is there anyone with CPS who does *not* have a problem with rising from a prone or seated position low to the floor? I am trying to figure out whether it is a problem that can be solved, or at least improved, with either weight loss or increased muscle strength.

I’ve asked on the CPSA, and will ask on the FB page. Is there anyone with CPS who does not have a problem with being able to push up their body weight? Or can actually do a chin-up? What about a push-up? Has their ability to stand up improved over time, or degraded? Here I’ve been thinking that the problem of my inability to rise was because of my weight, or my lack of muscle tone. But what if it has nothing to do with weight or muscle fitness? What if whatever controls the pain signals also controls that motor ability?

It’s one more question about CPS. Certainly, within my lifetime, it’s a question that could be answered, considering how fast neuroscience is developing. Of course, something like a world-wide depression would certainly halt such research. So much is ultimately way beyond our ability to influence, and is the result of global and historical contingencies:: the sheer luck of our having been born in this place here and at this moment in time. Will our culture and our society believe that there is a disease that consists of unrelenting, extreme, horrible pain, period? Will they turn away? Will they refuse to believe it, or blame it on the victims, or say it must be psychosomatic? Will they refuse to treat it, to care about the people who have it, to fund any research or contribute any money? Will they just shrug and say, “Well, everybody’s got problems”?

Sometimes I feel like our entire nation has fallen, and it can’t get up.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Laura permalink
    June 9, 2012 8:07 PM

    CPS has compromised my autonomic nervous system. A lot of pain from a fall (I have a weak right side), fatigue, wether extremes, can cause more than orthostatic hypotension. It had caused me to black out with low blood pressure and heart palpitations.
    Oh, then there is swallowing and breathing, but hey, this post is about falling.

    Falling causes enough “extra” pain to do that. Not sure how to imagine my future, all the things I can’t do with the kids, it does feel very limiting. And so don’t we love the authors, gardens and people who make it a little brighter. I meditate in a yurt near my house. Sometimes I bring my Kindle. E.L. Doctorow is a good distractor….

  2. June 11, 2012 4:02 PM

    Laura,you are so lucky to have a quiet place to meditate,especially an uncluttered one.I suppose that one could meditate anywhere -on a subway train, in a busy office, in Times Square,- if one was practiced enough.Not me! I need privacy before I can comfortably park my zabuton.

    Do you belong to the CPSA? Nigel, a member there, wrote a very interesting response about why we find falling so troubling. It’s not our muscles,although they do grow weak with disuse. The problem is that the brain itself no longer recognizes the signals to move or push the way we need them to. The brain has to be retrained. I’ll add it to this post. His recommendation is to do strength training exercises with weights and machines until you form new pathways in the brain to recognize and perform these activities. He says that he has regained his strength using these techniques.

    I’ll add it to this post.You may be able to play with your children yet.

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