I’VE FALLEN AND I CAN’T GET UP
by Kristy Jeansonne
In the late 1980s, the commercial for Life Call or as we would remember it, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” was comical for us kiddos. Throughout our childhood and into our teenage years that phrase was “funny” to say when we youngsters would fall. Fast forward to 2020, it isn’t so funny and it has become a reality for our newest adventure, ALS.
Brian’s first fall was February 2020, pre-diagnosis. Once diagnosed, it was recommended for him to get two AFO braces and a cane. Those have helped tremendously but falls still happen. At this point, falling is the most dangerous thing that could happen. When we were in California, I knew we would have some ALS Sucks moments, but thankfully we only had 3 major ones. I will tell you about two of them, the other is his story to tell. Then, I will tell you about the most recent.
Seeing the Redwood trees was on Brian’s wish list, so that is exactly what we did. From San Francisco we drove 4 hours north because we read that the further north you drive the bigger the Redwood trees would get. Once we found the perfect tree, we pulled over for Brian to get a picture. As I am getting my camera ready, he goes and gets ready to hug the tree. I looked up and there he was in slow motion - falling. I swear it was is in slow motion and so gracefully done. Unfortunately, he did hit his head rather hard, but he was wearing a baseball cap that protected his skin from getting scraped. After the stars went away, he got back up and we got the perfect picture.
Most of the hotel rooms were handicap accessible, which was great. This particular hotel was accessible, but somehow, he still managed to wipe out in the bathroom. A little back story, Brian and I made a deal that he would always tell me when he falls, even if it wasn’t a bad one. One night in the hotel, Brian was taking a shower and I hear, “Kristy everything is ok, but I fell and I’m stuck”. Again, his fall was so graceful and in slow motion that it did not make a loud noise. I go in the bathroom and there he is… legs hanging over the bathtub and him wedged in the tub next to the faucet. He wasn’t hurt, but the problem was I had to get him up. Let’s just say that part was not as graceful.
When we got home from our trip Brian had to quarantine away from me and the kids for 14 days due to our kids being exposed to Covid. Our neighbor was out of town and Brian took over her guestroom for the two weeks. One day, Brian called me to let me know he fell. He was in the bathroom, lost his balance and hit the floor, hard. He hurt his elbow, but the worst part was he was stuck on the ground for 20 minutes. Once the pain went away, he crawled to something to help pull himself up. He did not have his phone with him when that happened, therefore he couldn’t alert anyone that he had fallen and couldn’t get up.
I was telling a friend these stories and we joked about Brian needing the button thing around his neck just like the lady from the commercial. Then she had the idea of an apple watch. Neither of us have ever had apple watches, so I honestly didn’t know what features they had. After researching, I found the apple watch has a falling feature. It can detect a hard fall and will call the police and/or your emergency contact. Even if his fall isn’t an emergency, he can still text or call me from his watch.
Next thing we know, his and hers apple watches show up at our home, thanks to amazing friends.
Like I said, falling is one of the most dangerous parts of ALS. All of these falls were scary. As we learn more and more about ALS, we are learning that safety precautions are a must even if it feels silly. Normally, in our house, being a risk taker is applauded, but for Brian that is a no go! So, now we have a walker, shower chair, bars on the toilet, he uses his wheelchair more and he uses the lift outside instead of walking down the 3 steps that lead to our home.
We are adapting to this new way of life and I think we are doing a pretty good job! We are so grateful for everyone’s generosity and we’re hopeful we won’t actually need the fall feature on the watch!