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.

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

  1. Jeff Johnson

    Aw, Andi,
    Your spirit under challenging circumstances is inspiring. I guess all one can do is attempt to pick oneself back up and continue on. You that so well. It’s a blessing you didn’t need surgery (a left-handed one but nonetheless a blessing,) I hope this latest chapter progresses with minimal discomfort and lots of joys to compensate for the stress of it all.
    Hope you can enjoy the holiday and recharge for 2023.


  2. Andi

    Thanks, Jeff. And here’s to exciting new developments for both of us in the New Year, I have a bottle of champagne that is awaiting a celebration and will open it for both of us when, well, you know.


  3. Jill Tobak


    div dir=”ltr”>Oh Andi!!!  Terribly sorry to hear about your fall.  If you don’t feel as though you’re improving, maybe have another Ex ray and have another orthopedic doctor take a look.  As it happens we do know an excellent orthopedic practice


  4. Jill Tobak


    div dir=”ltr”>


    div dir=”ltr”>Oh Andi!!!  Terribly sorry to hear about your fall.  If you don’t feel as though you’re improving, maybe have another Ex ray and have another orthopedic doctor take a look.  As it happens we do know an excellent orthopedic practice


  5. Nancy

    Hi Andi,
    A few weeks ago I fell on my face (literally). Out walking ….trip…. down on hands, (luckily I had gloves on) one knee, (which has taken abuse before) and finally cheekbone. It hurt but not terribly but I was bleeding like a “stuck pig”. Off to the ER for stitches from a plastic surgeon. I’ve tried every which way to avoid falls and I think I have managed to avoid 9 out of 10 by observing why, how and when I have fallen and then made corrections or compensations. So- I know your blog is humerous and upbeat and I enjoy reading it and wish I could be as brave and adventurous as you. And I know I should just be sending you feel better wishes but I couldn’t resist giving a fellow (MGWPD) Mature Gal with Parkinson’s Disease one tip I added to my repertoire of reminders and one I have employed for some time. 1. Pick up your knees when walking heel toe (and your feet will follow). 2. Practice thinking only about walking when you are walking…no multitasking, no carrying anything in you hands and NO TALKING ON THE PHONE WHEN WALKING! And Andi, (my daughter’s name) I hope your heal quickly and completely very soon.


    1. Andi

      Nancy I just saw that I never replied to your lovely comment. Thank you for sharing your own experience and especially for the tips!
      All my best,


      1. Anonymous

        You are very welcome. I’m so glad your little sister came to help. You are very funny and brave but I can read between the lines. Hope you heal quickly. Also, I want to tidy up my home more and get rid of stuff so I can get to essentials more easily and my husband, who is an enormous help to me, is a saver of things not used or looked at for ten years or more. What a match????

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Charlotte

    Hi Andi,
    Just checking in to see how you are doing after your fall? Hope you & your hip are doing better!!
    Keep on moving,


  7. Andi

    Thank you so much, Charlotte, for your support in general and for your concern about my hip. It’s so much better than it was just a couple of weeks ago. I can’t walk for more than ten minutes – it starts to hurt then – but that’s a huge improvement. So, slow and steady…
    Thanks again, Charlotte.


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