Damn the Torpedoes

Many of us have written to each other about falling, usually focusing on the indignity of involuntary human flight. It is embarrassing to spread our wings on a crowded street and provide free lunchtime entertainment for passers by. I think most of us agree that we never seem to get used to the spectacle.
There are other dimensions to consider when we write or talk about those involuntary spills. Of greater concern than embarrassment to me is my pattern of hurting myself with those unwelcome events. The fallout here is more lasting and significantly more damaging than any run of the mill red face.
I was alone in my carpeted study when my legs began that tortured process of giving out. The script already was written. I searched in vain for something to grab as I began my slow descent. When a halfway healthy type falls, if that ever happens, he or she can move legs to adjust position and with any luck, nothing will come of the fall.
I and presumably many others with MS and many other degenerative illnesses cannot move our legs in those precious seconds. When I went down days ago, I fell on myself at an odd and unfortunate angle. The pain in my right knee was fierce. Adding insult to injury, I was slow to straighten out the pretzel. I knew I had damaged my knee.
As I moved slightly sideways yesterday, I went down hard again. Now I am afraid to move. I am seeing an orthopedist Monday. He already has taken apart the same knee once. I only can imagine what he is going to tell me. So I walk carefully at my octogenarian best and slowly, try not to move precipitously to the left or right. Does this ever end?
I am not crying in my beer. I do not even drink beer. Excessive alcohol consumption just adds to our miseries. It seems to me I have two choices. Cut down on pushing myself physically and settle for a more sedentary existence Or I can keep going, knowing a damn the torpedoes attitude probably means more visits to the floor. Screw it. I think I will opt for the latter.

38 Responses to Damn the Torpedoes

  1. David September 5, 2014 at 5:56 pm #

    Richard-
    I so very much appreciate your hesitation to give in to “facilitated travel”; but after I finally gave into a powered wheelchair, I found myself in a much less stressful environment. I had been very active in my pre-MS life (playing golf, coaching youth sports, etc.); so adjusting to life as a 3’6″ man rather than 6’3″ was quite a change in my perspective. However, biting that bullet allowed me to re-engage in a more normal life. After you acquaint yourself with a new view shed, you can lessen your daily stress and focus on your health.

    • Richard September 6, 2014 at 4:32 pm #

      You are right. I get it, But I am going to stay on my feet until I go horizontal. for the last tiome. I guess youv cantake that two ways. Choose one.

      My best,

      R.

      • Mari October 14, 2014 at 4:08 pm #

        I too am struggling to stay on my feet. I feel no shame or hesitance in asking friends, family or strangers for help. I have 5 canes and 4 walkers all strategically placed around my home, garage, car, outdoor porch and deck. Everyone is fighting a personal battle that carry’s with it personal struggles, ours battle and struggles are just more viable. I Stay in the present and am grateful, content, satisfied with battle. It’s not that bad, even though my husband left me and am pretty much alone, I know today is a good day. Today I don’t have the time or the worry to think about tomorrow, next week, next month or next year.
        There are those who talk about their battles and there are those who fight their battles. I am of the latter. I refuse to look too far into the future ( that includes tomorrow ).

  2. Sarah September 5, 2014 at 8:56 pm #

    Richard,

    I’m having the same trouble today. I haven’t fallen yet but if I don’t use my walker to get around the house, then my legs are all over the place. I look like the rubber-legged woman. I have days like this – some days I’m stronger, some days the rubber-legged woman. After being treated by my son to a wheelchair ride the other day, I realized how effortless and easy it was to take him up on his offer. It felt so good to not have to move a muscle – he did all the work. The only thing is, the heat was just as oppressive sitting down.

    We were leaving his doctor’s appointment, and before we exited the building, I saw the wheelchairs sitting there all alone, not being used. I made the comment that they sure looked inviting. He insisted that I get in one. Usually, I decline, but the heat made up my mind for me. The heat is, of course, making me much weaker, even if I’m using a cane. But, that thirty second ride sure felt good.

    I’m not as tall as David, or you, but at 5’10”, I think a wheelchair would be a safe and practical solution to conserve my energy and save my hide, not to mention, my bones. Please take care, and maybe consider being sedentary for just a few hours a day, at home, or wherever in a wheelchair. Surgeries and doctor’s visits are tedious and a pain in the derriere. Please be careful. We don’t want to lose you anytime soon either from a fall or a damned torpedo!

    • Richard September 6, 2014 at 4:37 pm #

      Thanksa.

      Just not there yet.

      I will stayu away from torpedoes.

      Best,
      R.

  3. Jack September 5, 2014 at 9:35 pm #

    Been there, done that. I fell too often and visited the emergency room multiple times to get sewn back together. I wasn’t ready to give up walking, but I needed to find some way to improve my stability (physical and mental).

    I searched the Internet and found something called a Strongarm Cane. It is almost like a forearm crutch, except it does not have a tight cuff that would wrinkle my sports jackets or long-sleeved shirts. It took a little time to get used to, but it gives me much more support than my old straight cane. It can be found on the Internet for as little as $55 to as much as $125 for the same product.

    This might not be a good solution for everybody but, for me, it seems to be working. A wheelchair might be in my future but I want to delay that day as long as I can.

    • Richard September 6, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

      Me, too. But there are new products coming out all the time. I am open to looking.

      Best,
      R.

  4. Sandy September 5, 2014 at 10:06 pm #

    I generally save my most dramatic spectacle falling for public places. The more people watching the more dramatic the fall. Its lie a performance art. Spontaneous improvisation. Draw blood for extra points.

    I came to the realization that the embarrassment I feel from a fall is greater than that of pushing a walker in public. There’s a formula and I have passed the fulcrum. So having fallen a few times and suffered that embarrassment I now feel that using a walker is just fine with me.

    I bought the Drive Medical “Nitro” walker. It folds side to side and is light and easy to get in and out of my car. I also have switched to a palm grip cane that is easier on my hands than a regular cane. I bought a pretty blue one that matched the dress I wore to my son’s wedding last weekend. More compliments on the cane than the dress….or my overall beauty as a matter of fact.
    Sandy

    • Richard September 6, 2014 at 4:44 pm #

      Good for you. Do what you have to and go sporty.

      R.

    • Yvonne September 6, 2014 at 8:54 pm #

      Sandy-my cane has a Katherine Hepburn quote wrapped around it with beautiful bright colors in the background. It reflects my personality saying “if you follow ALL the rules you’ll miss half the fun”

      Richard September 6, 2014 at 4:44 pm #

      Good for you. Do what you have to and go sporty.

      R.

      Reply

      Linda Lazarus September 6, 2014 at 4:38 am #

      Just read your post at 4:30am on my way to the Farmers’ Market. Last Saturday I had the experience you describe. I have the most beautiful blue/red ass even after a whole week. Yet here I go again.

      Beautiful haricot verts will not wait for me to get totally healed. A farmer’s life….

      Reply

      Richard September 6, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

      Well the color scheme sounds great.

      R.

      Reply

      henriette September 6, 2014 at 8:14 am #

      Your blog and a few songs by Springsteen are the 2 things that I need everyday…
      I know it’s hard but please keep moving. The way you write about MS inspires me.

      Reply

      Richard September 6, 2014 at 4:48 pm #

      Thanks. I’llteam up with Bruce anytime.

      Best,
      R.

      Reply

      Nik September 6, 2014 at 8:40 am #

      Your posts about falling coincide with current thoughts about my future and where we live. Our apartment where we live is upstairs. Everyday on my way down I remind myself to slow down in my rush to get my son to the school bus, then to get to work, or get my son to soccer. I think to myself this might not work forever. Unfortunately it’s part of our bread and butter since we live in a carriage house as caretakers for reduced rent. It’s funny how a diagnosis comes, then you are told to reduce stress, yet simple things about a home and how you get in and out of it can cause a tremendous amount of stress! Maybe because I’m newly diagnosed and going through a particularly rough patch it’s consuming my thoughts….I hope you had someone with you when you fell. When I read your post I immediately wished I had been there to help you up and then giggled picturing that, and how much help I would be!
      Hoping you heal before your appt and the damage isn’t too bad.

      Reply

      Richard September 6, 2014 at 4:52 pm #

      Thanks.

      R.

      Reply

      Sandra Schneider September 6, 2014 at 9:07 am #

      I can relate. Outside the house I use a tilt-recline wheelchair-no choice. Even the few steps getting into it from the van are precarious. It took a few months, but I am over the embarrassment. I learned that some people, even those I thought were friends, don’t see me as a complete human in the chair, but the ones that treat me exactly the same are worth their weight in gold. To hell with the other ones. In my house I do circus tricks without the net-judging where the next appliance, piece of furniture or animal cage is. NOT SAFE, and i do fall quite frequently, but I think MS can also stand for Most Stubborn. I have to stop fooling myself into believing that walking without the walker in the house is some sort of triumph over this disease.

      Reply

      Richard September 6, 2014 at 4:54 pm #

      Please stay stubborn.

      R.

      Reply

      Bill Garcia September 6, 2014 at 10:55 am #

      Forge ahead is what I say! I too have taken that plunge as recently as last night. Fortunately I have not fallen in public but I known that is just a matter of time. It might even be today as my legs are working overtime to support me. I walk like baby that has just learned to take their first few steps. Though I have a can I am constantly looking for something else to hold on to. As I walk I survey the area thinking if I fall now this is where I will try to force my body to go. Sounds ridiculous I know but I like to have a plan. LOL!

      It’s unfortunate that you have had so many falls in public places but we all know that goes with the territory. I would probably come back with some wise a** comment such ” What’s wrong haven’t you ever seen a grown man fall before?” ” The lease you could do is help me up so get you a** over here.” But that’s me.

      Keep doing what your doing Damn the torpedoes!! Your blog is a source of great inspiration for me. It helps me to keep going when I feel as if I can’t.

      Regards,
      Bill

      Reply

      Richard September 6, 2014 at 4:56 pm #

      All of us have to keep going. At least it is not boring.

      R.

      Reply

      Yvonne September 6, 2014 at 2:00 pm #

      Well, we all fall. I think the reason why we fall may be different. Its not always about pushing the limits. For me, my brain has not synchronized with my body. I am use to doing three things and thinking of the fourth that needs to be done. MS has robbed me physically from doing that but mentally I still trying to multitask. Not because I’m pushing, it’s because it’s what is my norm and I have to reconcile that my norm has changed. I remember my mother said “you get old but you still can’t believe your older because it seems like yesterday you were young” the same with MS. When did my mobility change? It was gradually for me. Now at PPMS my mind is still RRMS. No more trying to reach in the cabinets while cooking. I better gather what I need before I begin because sudden motion can take me down and no apparatus can save me. I gotta synchronize my brain with my body cause “ouch” is no longer an option.

      Reply

      Richard September 6, 2014 at 5:00 pm #

      Multi-tasking is hazardous to your health, I guess as a woman, you cannot help yourself

      R.

      Reply

      Yvonne September 6, 2014 at 8:40 pm #

      Yes, we woman folk are used to hazardous juggling,also known as raising kids,husbands and occasionally pets rarely dropping any…well maybe a husband or two 😉

      Sally September 6, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

      I say full speed ahead Richard. In keeping with this post and you previous post….One of my favs by F. Sanatra.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOI_SnESqhk

      Reply

      Sally September 6, 2014 at 4:13 pm #

      I am 70 something and have been forging ahead with MS, since I was 23.
      Waiting to see how you do with your stem cell therapy!

      Reply

      Richard September 6, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

      That makes two of us.

      R.

      Jenny September 6, 2014 at 4:59 pm #

      Damn the torpedoes…push the limits… I think some of us are forgetting something-our spouse, families, significant others. Pushing the limits is smart as long as we stay safe. If we would sometimes use canes, walkers, wheel chairs, scooters, walk-aids, AFOs, etc to alleviate stress on our significant others….wouldn’t that be wise? We talk about “us” all the time (it is important don’t get me wrong), but most of us are not alone in this fight. Taking chances that could be avoided by using a modality can help us AND help those who love us. Richard, I am sorry about your fall and pray you will be fine, but ….. Pride goest before a fall and I feel “do what you need to do so you don’t fall”.

      Reply

      Richard September 6, 2014 at 5:04 pm #

      OK.

      R.

      Reply

      RECENT POSTS
      •Damn the Torpedoes
      •Be Warned
      •Truth be Told
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      •Stem Cell Infusion #2

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      Sandy-I also wanted a cane to stand that reflecting my personality. So I bought one that has the Katherine Hepburn quote against a beautiful background of colors. It says “if you follow ALL the rules you’ll miss ALL the fun” . Carpe Diem 🙂

  5. Linda Lazarus September 6, 2014 at 4:38 am #

    Just read your post at 4:30am on my way to the Farmers’ Market. Last Saturday I had the experience you describe. I have the most beautiful blue/red ass even after a whole week. Yet here I go again.

    Beautiful haricot verts will not wait for me to get totally healed. A farmer’s life….

    • Richard September 6, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

      Well the color scheme sounds great.

      R.

  6. henriette September 6, 2014 at 8:14 am #

    Your blog and a few songs by Springsteen are the 2 things that I need everyday…
    I know it’s hard but please keep moving. The way you write about MS inspires me.

    • Richard September 6, 2014 at 4:48 pm #

      Thanks. I’llteam up with Bruce anytime.

      Best,
      R.

  7. Nik September 6, 2014 at 8:40 am #

    Your posts about falling coincide with current thoughts about my future and where we live. Our apartment where we live is upstairs. Everyday on my way down I remind myself to slow down in my rush to get my son to the school bus, then to get to work, or get my son to soccer. I think to myself this might not work forever. Unfortunately it’s part of our bread and butter since we live in a carriage house as caretakers for reduced rent. It’s funny how a diagnosis comes, then you are told to reduce stress, yet simple things about a home and how you get in and out of it can cause a tremendous amount of stress! Maybe because I’m newly diagnosed and going through a particularly rough patch it’s consuming my thoughts….I hope you had someone with you when you fell. When I read your post I immediately wished I had been there to help you up and then giggled picturing that, and how much help I would be!
    Hoping you heal before your appt and the damage isn’t too bad.

    • Richard September 6, 2014 at 4:52 pm #

      Thanks.

      R.

  8. Sandra Schneider September 6, 2014 at 9:07 am #

    I can relate. Outside the house I use a tilt-recline wheelchair-no choice. Even the few steps getting into it from the van are precarious. It took a few months, but I am over the embarrassment. I learned that some people, even those I thought were friends, don’t see me as a complete human in the chair, but the ones that treat me exactly the same are worth their weight in gold. To hell with the other ones. In my house I do circus tricks without the net-judging where the next appliance, piece of furniture or animal cage is. NOT SAFE, and i do fall quite frequently, but I think MS can also stand for Most Stubborn. I have to stop fooling myself into believing that walking without the walker in the house is some sort of triumph over this disease.

    • Richard September 6, 2014 at 4:54 pm #

      Please stay stubborn.

      R.

  9. Bill Garcia September 6, 2014 at 10:55 am #

    Forge ahead is what I say! I too have taken that plunge as recently as last night. Fortunately I have not fallen in public but I known that is just a matter of time. It might even be today as my legs are working overtime to support me. I walk like baby that has just learned to take their first few steps. Though I have a can I am constantly looking for something else to hold on to. As I walk I survey the area thinking if I fall now this is where I will try to force my body to go. Sounds ridiculous I know but I like to have a plan. LOL!

    It’s unfortunate that you have had so many falls in public places but we all know that goes with the territory. I would probably come back with some wise a** comment such ” What’s wrong haven’t you ever seen a grown man fall before?” ” The lease you could do is help me up so get you a** over here.” But that’s me.

    Keep doing what your doing Damn the torpedoes!! Your blog is a source of great inspiration for me. It helps me to keep going when I feel as if I can’t.

    Regards,
    Bill

    • Richard September 6, 2014 at 4:56 pm #

      All of us have to keep going. At least it is not boring.

      R.

  10. Yvonne September 6, 2014 at 2:00 pm #

    Well, we all fall. I think the reason why we fall may be different. Its not always about pushing the limits. For me, my brain has not synchronized with my body. I am use to doing three things and thinking of the fourth that needs to be done. MS has robbed me physically from doing that but mentally I still trying to multitask. Not because I’m pushing, it’s because it’s what is my norm and I have to reconcile that my norm has changed. I remember my mother said “you get old but you still can’t believe your older because it seems like yesterday you were young” the same with MS. When did my mobility change? It was gradually for me. Now at PPMS my mind is still RRMS. No more trying to reach in the cabinets while cooking. I better gather what I need before I begin because sudden motion can take me down and no apparatus can save me. I gotta synchronize my brain with my body cause “ouch” is no longer an option.

    • Richard September 6, 2014 at 5:00 pm #

      Multi-tasking is hazardous to your health, I guess as a woman, you cannot help yourself

      R.

      • Yvonne September 6, 2014 at 8:40 pm #

        Yes, we woman folk are used to hazardous juggling,also known as raising kids,husbands and occasionally pets rarely dropping any…well maybe a husband or two 😉

  11. Sally September 6, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

    I say full speed ahead Richard. In keeping with this post and you previous post….One of my favs by F. Sanatra.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOI_SnESqhk

    • Sally September 6, 2014 at 4:13 pm #

      I am 70 something and have been forging ahead with MS, since I was 23.
      Waiting to see how you do with your stem cell therapy!

      • Richard September 6, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

        That makes two of us.

        R.

  12. Jenny September 6, 2014 at 4:59 pm #

    Damn the torpedoes…push the limits… I think some of us are forgetting something-our spouse, families, significant others. Pushing the limits is smart as long as we stay safe. If we would sometimes use canes, walkers, wheel chairs, scooters, walk-aids, AFOs, etc to alleviate stress on our significant others….wouldn’t that be wise? We talk about “us” all the time (it is important don’t get me wrong), but most of us are not alone in this fight. Taking chances that could be avoided by using a modality can help us AND help those who love us. Richard, I am sorry about your fall and pray you will be fine, but ….. Pride goest before a fall and I feel “do what you need to do so you don’t fall”.

    • Richard September 6, 2014 at 5:04 pm #

      OK.

      R.

    • MB September 7, 2014 at 10:53 am #

      100% agree. Since when did falling become a badge of honor?

    • Richard September 7, 2014 at 8:07 pm #

      I think it depends on the age of kids. Mine are grown and goner. Meredioth shares my attitude and pushes me. All of us are different.

      R.

  13. dale September 6, 2014 at 11:09 pm #

    When my daughter said ‘just go ahead and use the chair, everyone knows you’re still a ninja’ at her sports award ceremony last year I realized how much energy I’d wasted worrying what others would think seeing me for the first time in a chair. Had I used the cane or rollator I’d have missed her getting both Coaches Award and Sportsmanship Award for Varsity Sailing right at the start.

    She put one of my prized MUSH dogsled stickers on the back and after a few initial ‘What did you do?”‘s from folks (a little nerve damage is always a great answer) the conversation always shifted to the usual. I still see myself running someday. But finally stopped worrying about what people thought. Kinda liberating, but damn bathroom doors are heavy these days.

    • Richard September 7, 2014 at 8:10 pm #

      I think it depends on the age of kids. Mine are grown and goner. Meredioth shares my attitude and pushes me. All of us are different.

      R.

  14. Amy Corcoran-Hunt September 7, 2014 at 11:29 am #

    One too many falls, one too many ghastly bruises, one too many brushes with broken bones, and I got a wheelchair. In the last few weeks I’ve accepted that if I had a power chair (not the image I want, I like the Lieutenant Dan vitality of powering it myself) I’ll be able to go more places and do more things with the spouse and toddler. So a power chair it is. Makes me cranky now to think of it, but the freedom will eventually make me happy. Or so I think.

    • Richard September 7, 2014 at 8:12 pm #

      Trust your instincts and go with them. My prescriptions are written only for myself.

      Best,
      R.

  15. Linda Lazarus September 8, 2014 at 6:57 am #

    I came back to encourage everyone to reread the comment above by Jenny. Jenny September 6, 2014 at 4:59 pm #

    Trust me I fight to keep moving and do well at it. But, since the beginning more than 20 years ago I have used every device to keep my professional life and now to keep my farming in retirement life. Walkers, manual wheelchairs, Segway, electric scooters. I keep moving with lots of meds and devices.

    I have friends who refuse to use devices. Some illusion of vanity as we often look drunk to others. And those friends who refuse make the lives of others more difficult than necessary. I really do not know what we are really thinking when we refuse the help that would make our own lives smoother as well as those we say we love.

  16. Kate Aquilino September 8, 2014 at 10:43 am #

    I rented a scooter when I attended my daughter’s wedding 3000 miles from my home. I wrote a post about the wedding and a friend followed with a post on the same subject from a different perspective. You can find them both at muddlingthroughms.com.

    Vows in the vineyard
    Thoughts from Kathryn

    The second mentions Richard Cohen.

  17. Linda Lazarus September 8, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

    A hopeful study underway on remyelination

    Remyelination research at Albert Einstein Medical College.
    New treatment for multiple sclerosis being investigated
    Date:
    August 27, 2014
    Source:
    American Academy of Neurology (AAN)

    Summary:
    A new treatment under investigation for multiple sclerosis (MS) is safe and tolerable in phase 1 clinical trials, according to a study. Studies with animals showed that the drug may be able to reverse the demyelination of the nerves. Current treatments for MS work to reduce new damage to the brain, but do not repair new or past damage.

    A new treatment under investigation for multiple sclerosis (MS) is safe and tolerable in phase I clinical trials, according to a study published August 27, 2014, in Neurology® Neuroimmunology & Neuroinflammation, a new online-only, freely accessible, specialty medical journal. The publication is part of the Neurology® family of journals, published by the American Academy of Neurology.

    The phase I studies were the first to test the drug candidate in humans. Studies with animals showed that the drug, which is called anti-LINGO-1, or BIIB033, may be able to reverse the demyelination of the nerves. Anti-LINGO-1 blocks LINGO-1, a central nervous system protein that prevents myelination. Current treatments for MS work to reduce new damage to the brain, but do not repair new or past damage.

    In MS, the body’s immune system begins to attack the myelin that acts as insulation around the nerves in the central nervous system. This makes it more difficult for the nerves to send messages to and from the brain and spinal cord.
    In the study, 72 healthy people without MS and 47 people with either relapsing-remitting MS or secondary progressive MS were given the drug or a placebo. The healthy participants received either a placebo or one dose of the drug by an infusion or injection. The people with MS received either placebo or two intravenous doses of the drug two weeks apart. In both groups, participants received varying amounts of the drug, ranging from 0.1 mg/kg to 100 mg/kg.

    The occurrence of side effects was similar for people who received the drug and those who received the placebo. Most side effects were mild to moderate and were not related to the drug. Side effects included headaches, upper respiratory infections and urinary tract infections. There were no serious side effects or deaths.
    There were no significant changes in vital signs, EKGs or other safety tests of the drug.

    Intravenous doses of 10 mg/kg and higher resulted in concentrations of the drug in the blood that were similar to or higher than the concentration that was associated with 90 percent of the maximum remyelination effect in studies with rats.
    “With these results we have been able to start phase II studies to see whether this drug can actually repair the lost myelin in humans and have any effect on restoring physical and cognitive function and improving disability,” said study author Diego Cadavid, MD, of Biogen Idec in Cambridge, Mass., which developed the drug. Cadavid is a member of the American Academy of Neurology.

    Story Source:
    The above story is based on materials provided by American Academy of Neurology (AAN). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
    Journal Reference:
    J. Q. Tran, J. Rana, F. Barkhof, I. Melamed, H. Gevorkyan, M. P. Wattjes, R. de Jong, K. Brosofsky, S. Ray, L. Xu, J. Zhao, E. Parr, D. Cadavid. Randomized phase I trials of the safety/tolerability of anti-LINGO-1 monoclonal antibody BIIB033. Neurology: Neuroimmunology & Neuroinflammation, 2014; 1 (2): e18 DOI: 10.1212/NXI.0000000000000018

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