CHARLOTTE, NC, March 18, 2018 – If it is true that “Pride goeth before the fall”, then I must be the proudest person on earth. Which may not be good since “pride” is said to be one of the seven deadly sins. For some unexplained reason, since my diagnosis with ALS, I now see the irony in virtually everything. Including my basophobia, or fear of falling.
For the last half of my life I have been writing about “trips” and now, today, I still write about “trips” but often from a different perspective.
Remember the scene in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” when the two friends are trapped on a ledge with a roaring river below.
“I’ve got the answer,” says Butch who had a ready solution for every situation. “We jump!”
To which Sundance sheepishly responds, “I can’t swim.”
Regaining his composure following a hearty laugh, Butch states matter of factly, “The fall will probably kill ya!”
It’s funny, but today it hits very close to home.
Falling has become my single greatest fear.
Not so much from the descent itself, but from what I might encounter on the way down or when the floor rushes up to greet me.
“Catfish” Hunter, the great New York Yankees pitcher, had ALS and died from complications a few days after he had a fall.
Recently after watching a marvelous television series on PBS about Queen Victoria I saw a book titled “Victoria Falls.” I quickly learned that it had nothing to do with the queen’s life, but my mind plays tricks on me now and then.
There was a similar experience when I saw the title of an Edgar Allen Poe short story called “The Fall of the House of Usher” which, upon reading it, I discovered that it had nothing whatsoever to do with a theater employee showing someone to their seat.
Sleeping continues to produce strange dreams when my subconscious takes over in wild disarray.
The other night I had a vivid nightmare that I had set my radio alarm to go off as a wake-up call. On one particularly frustrating morning, however, I reached for the alarm and fell out of bed. While lying on the floor in a half-wakened stupor, I heard the announcer doing a news flash where he reported,
“Man injured due to ‘radio activated fallout!'”
Basophobia -the fear of falling
Even the name for the fear of falling has its own special irony for someone who played baseball for the first third of his life. “Acrophobia” is the fear of heights, but believe it or not, the fear of falling is actually referred to as “basophobia.”
Thus it’s a double whammy…”fear of falling” or the “fear of bases” is the worst possible scenario for a baseball player.
As we age, falling becomes an actual fear even for those without disabilities. ALS only magnifies the problem because there are specific parts of the body which no longer function as they should. The severity of the infirmity depends upon each individual and how far their ALS has progressed.
Even at the most basic level, the helplessness of not being able to prevent the final outcome is worrisome.
Not all incidents are severe. Some are merely a matter of getting into a position where it is difficult to maneuver. For example, bending over to pick something up or reaching to turn on a light can lead to minor situations that still require assistance to correct.
One important tip for anyone who has trouble stooping or reaching, is to raise your eyebrows. It will not make it any easier. No matter how hard I try. But I still do it every time. And it has never worked — yet.
Sliding out of bed is another place where trouble lurks. The problem here is usually having something firm to grab onto in order to work your way to your feet. If you do fall after slipping off the mattress, it will likely be minor, but the frustration of not being able to respond lingers regardless.
Pride Goeth Before the Fall: Living in a hazard zone
The truth is that virtually every place in a person’s home is a potential hazard. Unless you pad the walls and furniture, there is no way to avoid it.
Low seats without arms are a problem, as are sofas and easy chairs. The best solution is to find a relatively high chair with a hard seat and armrests. That way a person is almost upright when he or she is ready to stand.
Getting into and out of a car can also be difficult. If the seat is too low or reclined too far back, or if the roof is not high enough or even when the car is parked on a slight incline can create problems the average person never considers.
For someone with ALS, even daylight saving time has its own set of challenges. After all, “springing forward” is no easy task, and come November, be very wary because that’s when every one of us must “fall back.”
As a result, the only time someone with ALS ever feels truly safe is when we go to bed at night and “fall asleep.”
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
Editors Note: Support Bob’s GoFundMe to give him a hand up