Saturday, January 23, 2010
A good landing, but now what?
Through the years of living with Kennedy's Disease, I have had many landings (kissing the ground after a fall). After most of these falls (good landings), I could fortunately get up and walk away afterwards. In recent years, however, I found myself in a different situation. Even if I did have a good landing, I found that I could not get up without some kind of help (the "now what" portion of the title). A couple of years ago, I was standing at the workbench in the garage repairing a birdhouse when I made a quick turn to pick up a tool (I know, I was not using my head again). My legs responded like rubber poles when too much weight is put on them. One leg went one way and the other just buckled. Most anyone with Kennedy's Disease understands that feeling when you lose your balance and know you are going down (everything seems to slow down). Fortunately, I plopped down (uncontrolled fall) into the back end of my golf cart. I only felt relief for a moment, before I said, "Now what," because I was wedged into the back end of a golf cart that was only twelve inches high.
I have always felt that men with Kennedy's Disease had an uncommonly good sense of how to use leverage. For example, when on the ground, we are usually able to stick our butt up in the air while inching our legs underneath us (into kind of an inverted 'V' shape). Then, we use our arms to crawl backwards to put more weight on the legs. Finally, we put our hands on our knees and push up. It looks awkward and takes a few minutes, but most of the time it works. A similar position is required to stand up from a low chair. I have to lean over my legs putting almost all of my weight out in front before using my arms to push myself up straight. If the thighs are close to a 90-degree angle to the lower legs, I probably will not make it up. Today, at my age and level of strength, this process works best for me if my thighs are at a 110-to-120-degree angle.
I suppose I should finish the story that I started earlier. By slowly twisting around in the cart and using my head as one leverage point on the back frame, then spreading my legs to an inverted 'V' position as the second and third points, I found that by using my arms, I could slowly raise myself up to a locked-knee position. Afterwards, I thought, "WHEW, now I have another story that I do not need to tell my wife."
As I learn to live with Kennedy's Disease, I am often reminded of C. S. Lewis's quote. "Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn. My God, do you learn."