Doing the Parkinson’s shuffle or If I fell…

Bottoms up! Or more accurately, bottoms down!

To the tune of the Hokey Pokey or the ditty of your choice

You slide your right foot out

And you start to spin around

Before you know it,

Your butt has hit the ground

Aaaargh you scream

Parky! out of my space

I can walk just fine without you

So find another place!

Exiting the subway and walking the remaining distance home after a doctor’s appointment, on the phone with a friend along the way, I suddenly and inexplicably found myself on all fours, a hole in my leggings, my hands and knees scraped. They hurt a normal amount, so I figured I’d stand up and continue my merry way home, about a five minute stroll.

I thought that for about ten seconds, until I actually attempted to rise from the pavement. Oweee oweee oweee!!!!!!!!!!

This was no pedestrian equivalent to a fender-bender. This car was totaled.

How had this happened? I searched in vain for an object I might have tripped over but there was nothing in sight except the cruel, hard pavement upon which I was now sprawled. “Lift your feet,” a friend at work was constantly admonishing me pre- Parkinson’s diagnosis. Eventually I practically relearned how to walk at the age of 70 but old habits die hard. I believe I stepped forward toe-first and my rubber-soled shoe got stuck on the unforgiving sidewalk while the rest of me continued to move forward, and that’s how I fell.

“Give me a break” I’ve been known to reply to some comment or other. Unfortunately, the universe must have been listening because now I was indeed given that break, though not the kind I’d had in mind.

I managed to hobble home, teeny tiny steps all I could handle, convinced I’d fractured my hip. I’d heard it said of the elderly, “Once they fall, it’s all over.” It struck me with the force of a category three storm: It’s official! I am a genuine “little old lady.” This is now my identity.

Where was the stylish, fit, older Frenchwoman I’d vowed to emulate after my two- week sojourn in France? Would she spend much of her time in, not a chic “costume” but rather a hospital gown, resulting from spill after spill after spill?

I packed myself in ice for several hours as if I were a freshly-caught mackerel before heading to the ER, where the orthopedist, grinning as if he were about to inform me that I’d won the lottery, which I sort of had, said “ Good news! You don’t need surgery!” Yippee! I guess. Because my hip was indeed fractured. It’s rest, physical therapy, brief strolls with my walker, and that old well-known healer, time.

The most pleasant moment of my days now? After my equivalent to hiking the Appalachian Trail (from bed to kitchen to bathroom, walker in tow), I sink into my mattress and achieve nirvana. That’s obviously an overstatement but since my hip kills when I put weight on it, the absence of pain feels as delicious as a hot stone massage.

I recalled a real shift in first my father’s and then my mothers’s walking style in the wake of a fall. They became hesitant and slow, as if fearful that every step brought them that much closer to life in a wheelchair. The paradox: I always believed their hesitancy actually precipitated their becoming less robust. It seemed to weaken them.

I was surprised and pleased when, not long after I started the blog, others with Parkinson’s reached out to thank me, and to tell me that they found my sharing my experiences helpful. And just recently, a friend told me about a friend of hers who got cancer, and who felt she was carrying that burden for others in the community. Am I, with my growing burden (a broken hip on top of Parkinson’s?? Really??) meant to carry these burdens for others, somehow lessening theirs? Are others’ stories being filtered through me? Is that my purpose now? And if so, WTF!

True story: My 87-year-old mother never used a walker, and she got around just fine, if a little slowly. But almost the moment my father died, out came the walker. It seemed pretty clear that she didn’t need it, at least not physically. Emotionally’s probably another story. I’m guessing it gave her a sense of security, and I’m now regretful that I felt judgmental about what may have been necessary in a different way.

I can’t answer any of these questions, of course, but I’ll continue to ponder them, and that makes life interesting. With the discomfort of Parkinson’s and that of the hip, it also makes life a pain in the ass.

The “train” I devised to hold onto when making my way from bed to bathroom. Station 1- dining room chair. Next stop, walker. Final destination, living room chair/bathroom.

12 thoughts on “Doing the Parkinson’s shuffle or If I fell…

  1. Judith Fineman

    Andi-this isn’t working. It says the page can’t be found.    

    Love, me



    Judy Fineman


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  2. Jacob Bloom

    I’m very sad to hear about your accident! I hope you can make it to a chair for dancing, but don’t do anything that hurts!


  3. Clintonella

    How are you feeling, Miss Andi? Any progress with the hip? Was it just a hairline fracture? I forget what you said… XOXOX


  4. Leslie

    love the photo – you’re still the blond, stylish, fit, wine-drinking
    (“French”) woman !

    -sending get-well, healing wishes. Thank goodness, no surgery needed. Hope the pain has lessened.

    Wishing you Happy Holidays.
    love that gorgeous blouse!


  5. Valerie

    hi Andi, I love your writing style. I had a bad fall almost a week ago where my head hit a brick wall and I fractured my hip. I have ataxia and that’s why I fell. I can totally relate to what you have experienced and written about. Though I only wish you the very best in health, I did get some comfort knowing I am not alone. Heal quickly and completely my Mataponi friend. Happy Hanukkah,
    Valerie Barrack


    1. Andi

      Hi Valerie,
      And yikes! That sounds rough and yes, I guess we’re not only Mataponi sisters, we’re also on the injured list together. Did you need surgery and how are you doing? I wish you rapid healing as welI.


  6. Maureen Shaw

    Andi you are one tough cookie.
    I’m so glad I met you years ago by chance in Roslindale.
    I wish you a complete hip recovery.
    Alla tua salute, Maureen


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