Remember the Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers song from 1989?
'Cuz I’m free!! Free falling… Yeah I’m freeeeeee… freeeee falling!
I’m not gonna talk about dumping a girl, feeling no regret, and driving around Los Angeles. But today’s topic deals with balance and not of the philosophical kind.
Balance which keeps you from falling. Get it? Free falling… (lol)
During a consultation with a neurologist in the summer 2005, the doctor put me through the hoops of silly human neurological tricks.
follow my finger with your eyes, smile, how many fingers am I holding up?
hold you arms out, close your eyes, touch your finger to my finger & touch your nose, close your eyes
don’t let me move your arms, sweeze my fingers
sharp needle test, tuning fork test, legs strength, check reflexes, etc.
walk normal, walk heel-to-toe, walk on your toes, walk on your heels
stand with your feet together, now arms out, now close your eyes
Whoa, baby!!! Huh… What’d he do THAT for!?!
("THAT" was thought to be my neurologist shoving me forward to test my ability to resist the force.)
The neurologist quickly told me to open my eyes. He left the room shortly afterwards.
I asked my Mom, who had come with me that day, "why do you suppose he shoved me like that?" Honey, he didn’t shove you, he kept you from falling. "What? No. He pushed me."
I’ve not felt that exact feeling since, that is, until last week. During routine neurological exams lately, I don’t even get to the ‘stand and close your eyes’ part as balance issues become apparent during the ‘heel-to-toe’ walk.
Last Wednesday was my first physical therapy session with an amazing woman who specializes in neurological diseases and impairments. Her clients are ONLY neurological patients. She had already assessed me during our previous meeting, but this was our first opportunity to see exactly how well I perform at specific challenges.
Thankfully, the most important apparatus which every ‘silly human trick’ -type patient needs was provided. The BELT. Fashionably draped and tightened around the human trickster, then held onto by the ring master for maximum control and grace.
During one of the "easy" balance exercises, I was asked to stand on a foamy (and somewhat squishy) platform. Hey, don’t laugh - it’s harder than it sounds.
She instructs me to turn my head to the right. Whoa!!! There I go free falling again. And… my eyes were open. Another one. Look straight ahead, then tilt your head down. Yikes!!! I’m almost taking a nose dive.
Good thing that the ring master was in control of the trickster with that BELT the whole time. Did I mention that these were the easy exercises?
Physical therapy (aka PT) has only just begun - whoops, I must be in a musical mood - and there will plenty more stories to glean from this experience. But in the meantime, any thought of balance tricks turns the mic over to Tom Petty in my head.
'Cuz I’m free!!! Free falling… Yeah I’m freeeeeee… freeeee falling!
Lisa Emrich is a patient advocate, accomplished speaker, author of the award-winning blog Brass and Ivory: Life with MS and RA, and founder of the Carnival of MS Bloggers. Lisa uses her experience to educate patients, raise disease awareness, encourage self-advocacy, and support patient-centered research. Lisa frequently works with non-profit organizations and has brought the patient voice to health care conferences and meetings worldwide. Follow Lisa on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.