I did something the other day my wife thought was impossible: hurt myself while sleeping. In the nearly 20 years we’ve been married, we’ve slept in hundreds upon hundreds of different beds around the world. (One might say we sleep around, but let’s not.) We’ve slept in mammoth beds the size of entire bedrooms and on barely padded floors in Buddhist monasteries. We’ve slept on planks in China, with bedbugs in India, and in the wilds of Kenya’s outback. We’ve slept on beds in tree houses, beds in caves, beds in former palaces, beds in deserts, beds in castles, beds in haunted hotels. And not once have I ever fallen out of one, even in roller-coasterish 30-foot seas or in tippy riverboat hammocks. Well, there’s a first time for everything.
Falling is a fact of life with multiple sclerosis.
Indeed it is a fact of life, period. You will fall. It will hurt. You will
curse. And I try, usually successfully, to avoid kissing the pavement, hugging
the rug, smooching the linoleum, and mowing the grass with my teeth. I am not
shy about using aids, especially after my broken leg experience a few years
ago. Canes, trekking poles, forearm crutches, walkers, and wheelchairs are all
in my arsenal. But these aids, I discovered, are relatively useless when you
are sound asleep. On a cot. That is listing.
Rule #1: Don’t sleep in a listing cot. Rule #2: If
you violate Rule #1 and fall out of bed, do not try to stop your fall by
putting all of your weight on your right big toe. That hurts and you will
curse. Which is what I did at 5 in the morning, waking up my angel of a wife
with a start for the second time in as many months. Worse, I didn’t even get to
finish my dream, in which I was probably running around chasing stuff and
humping legs like a spazzy dog that had just lapped up a bowl of Red Bull.
The pain radiated up my leg with every step, and eventually
the toe turned an appetizing shade of spoiled blueberries. At least I wasn’t on
some romantic trip to the Grand Canyon, celebrating getting engaged at the
world wonder exactly 20 years ago. Oh, wait… I was. Ah, but all was not lost.
We managed to deal—as we all have to do with multiple sclerosis, patient and
caregiver alike. We couldn’t quite find the ledge where I proposed—and it was
most definitely a ledge as I wanted to have an easy out if she said no
(kidding)—but it didn’t matter. Bum toe and all we were living life as best we
everyone with this disease knows, despite our most determined efforts, some setbacks
are unavoidable. (Like hurting yourself when you are sound asleep!) We dust
ourselves off and keep living. And yes, we’ll fall again. And we’ll dust ourselves
off again. And keep living….