And We All Fall Down

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 could.

As 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….


Anonymous said…
inspiring as always. thinking not finding the ledge might have been in your best interest as falls do like to occur at the most inopportune times.
Dave Bexfield said…
Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. That would have been an unfortunate way to celebrate 20 years. By the way, Laura didn't say "yes" right away. Her first reaction: "Are you serious!?"

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