How MS Nearly Caused a Twisted Knee
While MS doesn't directly affect the joints, it can undermine the nerves and muscles that support them.
By Trevis Gleason
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Luckily, I had hold of both banisters of the stairs this morning.
I looked down at my legs and feet, as they weren’t sending up much in the way of sensory signals. You know the feeling: I know that they are there, but they are as much deadweight as they are active participants in the day’s activities.
As I watched myself take each deliberate and labored step, my right leg (yes, the “good one”) did a wobbly dance that I’d not choreographed and for which there was no soundtrack beyond my bass-baritone grunting with every step in the incline.
It was sickening to see in the same way (but to a lesser extent) as it was to see the Washington Redskins player Joe Theismann’s leg bend the wrong way — and oh so very far the wrong way — during a November football game in 1985.
I grabbed the handrail as tightly as I might with my multiple sclerosis (MS)–affected left hand and leaned into the right side for proper support. My semi-numb right leg swerved beneath most of my weight. It was as if I were looking at an earthquake video of a bridge undulating as tectonic plates shift.
Like a child’s jump rope or an oscilloscope’s display, my leg seemed to be moving in long, flowing waves from hip to foot and back up again. My grip tightened and, with focus and intention, I was able to turn around and dismount the stairs before any damage was done.
The Secondary Damage Caused by MS Symptoms
It got me thinking about how many secondary (and tertiary) effects we may experience because of our weakening nerve signals to muscles.
If I’d not been holding the banisters, I would surely have done major damage to my knee. Ligaments, tendons, and cartilage can only do so much in keeping a joint safe when MS calls, as it did this morning.
I fall enough with MS and, thank goodness, I’ve not done too much damage in the falling nor in the getting back up. When I do think of the mild injuries I’ve incurred because of MS falls, they are usually bruises or the strain of a few muscles from trying to stay upright when the tumble was inevitable.
RELATED:Tripping and Falling: My New Normal With MS
Near-Miss Serves as a Warning
I’d hadn’t much thought of the wrenching of a knee (or other joint). I guess that’s because most of my falls seem to be frontward while I'm moving or attempting to move forward. Because I was going up the stairs and placing weight directly down, this would have been a fall that tore soft tissue, in addition to what a likely tumble down the stairs may have caused.
Lesson learned. Hold the handrails and mind your knees, Trevis. You’ll miss them when they're gone.
I offer my near-miss as warning to those of you who also know the wobble of limbs due to our common condition.
Wishing you and your family the best of health.
My book, Chef Interrupted, is available on Amazon. Follow me on the Life With MS Facebook page and on Twitter, and read more on Life With Multiple Sclerosis.
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