Friday, July 01, 2011
Weird MS symptoms: cognitive falling
Watching Patti as she flails her arms, legs jerk and her wheelchair shutters from all the action I wonder if Patti is demon wrestling or I’m missing an earthquake.
Only seconds in duration and followed with an exclamation (some printable, some not), I steady her and ask – “you think you’re falling again, don’t you?”
Decades ago when Patti could still walk this weird MS symptom – cognitive falling (I THINK I’m falling therefore I WILL fall) - occurred more frequently and resulted in random falls from a standing position.
Vertigo? Hypnic Jerk? Inner Ear? Nystagmus? Myoclonic Jerk? Ataxia? Medication? All and more were considered, re-considered and dismissed. Intermittent symptoms rarely ever fit all the criteria of diagnostic ‘billing’ codes.
I have never observed a pattern to any triggering activities neither then nor now except ‘intermittent and unexplained’. Frankly with the gap of decades unless you were me, you would not even notice the similarities.
Now in a wheelchair Patti is not at actual risk of falling from a standing position, though awareness is warranted. Even such a brief episode during assisted transfer or eating could certainly have at risk consequences.
And, of course, never does a weird MS symptom actually occur during a visit to a neurologist - well except just once decades ago when Patti could still stand.
Patti’s neurologist had just finished poopahing Patti’s recounting of cognitive falling. He was quite adamant that the human body does not fall because it “thinks it is going to fall”.
As he put Patti through her neurological exam (if you have never observed one, it borders on human pet tricks), Patti announced “It’s happening! I’m going to fall!” Her neuro calmly and professionally reassured her “No! You are not! Your legs are fine. There is no …” - Patti grabbed him for support and they both ended up on the floor.
After I helped them both up, we at least learned that when a ‘weird MS symptom’ lands on top of a neurologist it becomes an “observed” unexplained intermittent symptom.
Fortunately decades later, cognitive falling while weirder is at least safer.
Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer
web site: caregivinglyyours.com
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