Monday, February 25, 2019

A Challenge in Life

This post is written to ask for information.  Information about how others have handled the situation when their life begins to get smaller.

                                                   Photos taken by Matilda - maybe gazing into
                                                     the silver ball will provide answers?

It has been almost two years since I had the accident when my arm went through the glass door.  For some reason, that accident affected my balance.  Something that I have never been able to recapture.
Have you had this issue and if so, how did you resolve it?

Since I seem to be falling more and more now - eight times in four weeks - I am fearful of falling and so not leaving the house very much.  With no depth perception due to my right eye not having any sight, I think this is now, for some reason, contributing more to this.

It was most helpful last week when I went to visit a friend who had both knees replaced last August, then got an infection in one and had to have additional surgery.  She is house bound for about a month.  When I took food to her, we sat and talked for about an hour.  She told me how, since the operation, she has hardly left the house because of her fear of falling.  OMgosh, I was so relieved as we sat and talked about this as I thought I was the only one.  No, we did not come up with a solution, but at least, somehow, knowing that I'm not the only one had a somewhat calming effect on me.

Since my friend and I have always been independent "go getters" not being able to go and do has had
a psychological effect on us.  For me it is frustrating to have to be concerned about each and every step I take and, IF I am going someplace, the question of "Will there be stairs?" is a never ending first question.  Or, will there be crowds.  Hence, I don't go!  Has anyone out there experienced this, and if so, how did you overcome it?

Thankfully, I have a car, so I plan where I am going based on being able to park near where I am going.  That does help.

I have tried physical therapy, walking as much as I can here at home in hopes of strengthening my legs, but it does not seem to be working.  I've even stopped going to my beloved "coffee klatch" group because of the fear of the cobblestones and how difficult it is to get there now that the city has closed off those streets to vehicular traffic!


It is embarrassing for  me, the "Mighty One" (ha), to admit these issues and to ask for help.  Truly,
but I am at the point that I do not know what else to do.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

I count my blessings every day that I am in a one story house.  Also, that I have Josefina two mornings a week to help with cleaning and laundry.  And, that I have my wonderful son and grandchildren near by.  But, I need to take action to resolve this issue.

Onward, slowly but surely with your advice, if possible.


SPOT Coupons said...
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Retired Teacher said...

Barbara, have you tried using a cane for more stability? My sense of balance is not the greatest, and, even though I just officially became a senior citizen last year, I use a walking stick when I am doing something like climbing pyramids.

R. P. said...

I know we are not old or even on the precipice. Forgive the image of that. After falling myself, I shouldn't even be using the word. LOL.
So, if it's not age.... What pray tell? Anyone?
Saludo & Upward,

Babs said...

Hi Bill. I have been using a cane for 1 1/2 years. Without it, I am not steady at all. Thankfully my son insisted that I get one. I even have back up canes in the car! Sheesh, who ever thought?

Robert - I have no answers although I did read somewhere that there is a condition that little by little reduces your leg strength no matter what you do. Unfortunately I do not remember what it is called. I'll try to find the article.......hopefully that is NOT our issue.

Ruth said...

Are the sidewalks and streets too uneven to use a walker? A walker can help with stability.

Babs said...

Using a walker is clearly not an option here with the cobbled sidewalks and streets. I saw a woman try to use one and gave up. She folded it and they put it in the car and she held onto the person she was with. The cane is my best solution.

Thanks for taking time to make a suggestion. I greatly appreciate it.

Contessa said...

So sorry to read about your issues. As you likely know, balance is affected by our hearing. Have you had your hearing checked in the past year or so? There may be something affecting your balance. Have a look here to start your research.

Please keep us posted as there are many of us with balance issues. I fell three times last spring while in Europe and one of them involved stitches in my forehead. Cobblestone streets are brutal.

alcuban said...

I am sorry about your problems and even sorrier that I have no suggestions. But have you checked with Fred? He used to fall frequently but I haven't heard of any more mishaps. Maybe he has discovered some solution. Falling and lack of balance can be caused by so many problems I wouldn't even hazard a guess. If you have family in Texas, you might want to go up there and have a thorough check-up of all moving parts.

Good luck.


Barbara Lane said...

I, too, wish I had the magic answer. And while I don't I do have a thought - Have you tried two canes? I know numerous people who use them. I had a custom made cane made for my dear aunt who passed at 95 years young. Water buffalo horn handle, ebony staff, sterling band, monogrammed. She was always impeccably dressed and thought of it as an accessory, and was "tickled no end" that all of her friends envied it - she adored having the cane everyone wanted.

Two may be worth a try. Think of skiing - much of it is about balance, and you must use two poles to keep it.


Unknown said...

Have you thought about chair exercises to increase your muscle mass and stability issues?
I tore my meniscus a few years ago and used this program along with PT to improve my stamina/balance etc. I originally thought the instructor was a bit too perky for me, but I've grown to enjoy his enthusiasm. There is a Facebook page that is helpful as well; many people comment and are very supportive.

I started with and still use the 15 minutes morning and evening bed stretches when work gets too physical...I'm a caterer, so it can be a tough go at times.

Hope this helps you get back on track.

Ruth said...

Check this walking stick out at the REI website. I use it only as an example because it is quite expensive. I think a walking stick would give you as much stability as a cane. Maybe you could find something similar. The best feature is that it has a tip that can be used indoors or on pavement.

Leki Wanderfreund Black Carbon Staff - Single

Betty in Oregon said...

I have fallen several times and have a titanium rod in my femur plus a fractured pelvis and collapsed vertebrae. I found Yoga to be helpful with balance and strength. Chair Yoga or Gentle Yoga. Also don't be embarrassed to use a cane or walker when possible. Better to be seen using them than to fall again. Many of us are in the same boat. I have one friend that is going to therapy because she is afraid of falling again. I hope some of this helps you, I know how you feel. Betty

Babs said...

Dear Contessa - That must have been terrifying to fall three times while traveling AND end up with stitches! Yikes.
I did not know balance was connected to hearing! But, several people have written either private emails or comments on the blog. I have already scheduled an appointment with an ENT doctor here for this week as I had a bout of vertigo two weeks ago and I hear little sounds in my left ear when I lay on that side! Who knew there could be a oonnection! Thanks so much for taking time to give me this information.

Babs said...

Dear Al - the fact that you took time to write makes me happy. Thanks. I know Fred is still having falling issues......even though he had the neck surgery and got hearing aids. I DO have a ENT appointment with the dr. at H+ who I have not been to in about 15 years! She is the wife of Dr. Alvarez and very, very competent. So glad several people informed me that hearing affects balance!

Babs said...

Barbara Lane, thanks. I do have two acrylic canes, but, at this point I only use one for walking. Even one makes it difficult if you have apurse or package to carry but I am now wearing a "back pack" purse! Sheesh.........People stop me often and ask where I got such an interesting cane. And, I thought no one would notice I had a cane as it is see through. Ha. BTW, I got it from Fashionable Canes online.

Babs said...

Hi Unknown, Ruth and Betty in Oregon. I'm overwhelmed by your kindness in taking time to write with suggestions and ideas and WEBSITES! Goodness. I so appreciate each and every idea and comment.

I will spend tomorrow following up on your thoughts and I HAVE made an appointment with an ENT doctor for this week.

In addition, at my appointment yesterday with the orthopedic surgeon, he showed me on my x-rays one of the main reasons for my falls! (And here I thought it was just because I am a klutz). It shows that my bad knee, the left one, the two bones are totally askew from each other and that contributes greatly to the "issue". Of course, his suggestion is knee replacement. More on that later.

It is true that often "it takes a village" and I'm so so happy that I informed all of you about this challenge. I hesitated for quite a long time to say anything, but now I am so glad I did. Truly.......THANKS SO MUCH! I now have hope!

Unknown said...

I also suffered from vertigo a year ago and it really affected my balance.
My mom is in her 90's and frequently gets ear infections and that affects her balance as well. But I think the main thing is to continue to strengthen both leg and ankle muscles. One of my clients who teaches balance at the senior center she lives in has told me the longer your stride, as you age, the better your balance. Make sure to wear correct, supportive shoes. The longer the stride the better your balance. If you find yourself taking small, shuffling steps try to gradually lengthen your stride.

When I tore my meniscus in my right knee, I started compensating with my left leg and threw everything off balance. My hips and leg muscles all suffered for it. Now my right knee is okay and my left is constantly inflamed. PT works wonders as long as you have some cartilage left. I have held off knee surgery for 4 years with PT and small amounts of the right exercises. I ended up finding a fabulous masseuse who has a strict medical background and he has worked wonders. I try to get two massages a month and that keeps everything moving :) So much upkeep as we age!!!

I have no idea why my post comes up as Unknown...I have a few google accounts and apparently not linking to my blog.

Best wishes...Susan

MaryAnnHT said...

I wish I had the magic answer for you, but I suspect that an earlier mention of a "hearing" issue may be responsible for the balance problems you've been experiencing--especially after you mentioned that you noticed some 'sounds' in your ear when lying down. An inner ear infection or similar ear problem can definitely affect your balance so it's good that you made an appointment with an ENT specialist. It's possible that once the balance issue is resolved, falling will be less of a concern. I agree with a previous post that yoga is excellent for improving balance and strength and chair yoga or gentle yoga is something anyone can do (including seniors like me (I'm 68) who have mobility issues). I use the yoga DVDs by Peggy Cappy (who teaches on PBS) that are designed for "the rest of us." They are excellent, easy to follow and Ms Cappy is an excellent teacher. Here's a link to one of the DVD's I use:
I do hope that you get to the root of the balance problem and that once resolved, building strength and conquering the 'fear' of further injury will be easily accomplished. In the meantime, take good care and know that I'm sending positive healing thoughts your way.

Babs said...

Susan, thanks for writing. Your post is filled with such good information. I have an appointment on Friday with an ENT specialist here in SMA. I will probably find out that that is part of the issue!

I also found out from the orthopedic surgeon on Monday night that looking at the xray of my left knee that the two bones are not anywhere lined up! He said that is one of the reasons I keep the inevitable is knee replacement but that adds
a whole bunch more issues and questions as to recovery, etc. I could not have it done in Mexico because of the cost........
I have no cartilage left in either knee.
I do need to get the massage therapist back here for massages as I used to do. It helped immensely. I agree! The idea about stride is well taken too. Thanks
Are you the Susan from California? I don't know why you come up as Unknown either.

Babs said...

Mary Ann HT, thanks so much for writing. I have written down in the info on the yoga instructor on PBS and will watch it ASAP. You have opened a world for me that I
have never participated in!

Thanks so much. I will keep everyone informed as I go forward with appointments
with an ENT specialist, a massage therapist and your suggestion of Chair Yoga.

I do so appreciate your taking time to write and to sending positive and healing thoughts!

Deborah S. said...

How frustrating and surely frightening for you! All the suggestions above are good. I'd like to add mine, based on my experiences with my dad and my mother-in-law.
Marge had only one eye and limited vision in her remaining one. This greatly affected her depth perception. You might want your vision checked. She used a cane in her apartment, and "trekking poles" for use on the street. These are lightweight and used by walkers and hikers. They could be handy on the cobblestones.
My dad had Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, an awful combination, as his balance was compromised and he couldn't remember the instructions from the physical therapists on how to use his walker. The physical therapist told me that the BEST walker is the simplest one, without any wheels or hand brake. Just a plain folding aluminum frame. Apparently it's too easy to let the wheeled versions get too far out in front of you, and then you have no support.
Whatever the issue turns out to be, I'm sure you'll handle it with grace and pluck!

Babs said...

Hi Deborah - Thanks for taking time to write. I have never had depth perception as I have been blind in my right eye all my life. But, since I've never had it, I have
always compensated for the lack, like at curbs, steps and other things. The problem with trekking poles is that that leaves you with no free hands.....which right now, having the loss of one hand holding the cane is an issue for me. Pretty hard to sweep the floor one handed, etc. Who knew?

So sorry to hear bout your mother-in-law and your dad. I cannot imagine anything worse then the combination of Parkinson's and Alzheimers! Today I saw someone at the hospital with one of those plain folding frames. Once he got outside to the cobblestones, it was totally impossible for him so he folded it up and his wife came and took his arm. I'm not living in the easiest place for someone with challenges....but I'm making it work, sort of! ha. Pluck is a good word...

Again, thanks for writing!

Kim G said...

Hola Barbara,
I'm so sorry to learn of your predicament. But it looks like you've gotten a lot of good suggestions. I hear you about not wanting to tie up both hands, but maybe it's time to use an over-the-shoulder bag or knapsack and go with the two-pole or two-cane solution.

As for walkers, my mother's experience here in Ajijic shows that the wheeled variety is very difficult on cobblestones/empedrado. But the type you pick up and move with each step might work better than you think. Maybe you can borrow one and try it? Of course that's no solution for stairs, but at least there you should have a hand rail.

As for knee replacements, I've had quite a few friends get them and not a one has regretted it. Weren't you scheduled for such a thing some time in the past two years, but then had some problem come up? I seem to recall a trip to Houston for some medical purpose that went awry.

In any case, I wish you the best of luck with the balance issue. Getting older isn't for sissies. Hang in there!


Kim G
Ajijic, Jalisco
Where we wonder about the wisdom of combining old folks with terrible sidewalks and cobbled streets.

Caddie said...

Hello,Babs. Can't help but think the issue may be from vertigo, which I had constantly for such a long period and many harmful falls. Unfortunately, gossip around the neighborhood was I was drunk! All the time! Doctors didn't know, had no clue. Finally discovered meclizine (sp) and my problem shortly went away. Now the dizziness/falling issue hasn't occurred for over a year. Of course, I always am touching 'something' at each step in case dizziness comes without warning. Good luck to you and all others suffering with your issues.

Babs said...

Hi Kim. Thanks for your suggestions and advice. I do use a backpack purse so that I have my left hand ready, just in case. I cannot imagine trying to handle to canes or sticks as one is difficult enough. But, who knows.

Yes, I went to Houston a year ago with surgery scheduled to have my left knee replaced. The orthopedic surgeon said I needed to strengthen my legs prior to surgery and said to just keep getting cortisone shots for the pain when the last cortisone wore off. But, luckily, the orthopedic surgeon I went to here about three months after I returned from Texas, gave me cockscomb shots in both knees and seven months later, I just now have some pain if I am on my legs all day! He also told me that
you are only supposed to get cortisone a total of three times in your knees! So,
we are working on this. One issue for going to have my knee replaced now is I have
found out from friends who have done so, that it really takes at least six months
of recuperation and I don't want to be in the USA for six months nor do I want to impose on anyone for that long!
So, it is what it is. The vertigo has been resolved. I am no longer "dizzy and falling". Hallelujah. You are right, living where there are cobblestones is not a good recipe for those who are challenged. I'm learning to go where there are "smooth surfaces" and no impediments. NOT an easy thing here.

Babs said...

Caddie, thanks for writing! Indeed you are so right. Although I was falling from not being aware of things, the worst was when I did get the vertigo recently. THAT was resolved on Friday when an ENT doctor did the exercise that puts the "crystals" back in position in the ear! Amazing. I am still leery though and still being extra careful. AT least there are no more spinning rooms! Whew.

I'm so glad you got your situation resolved but I could not have lasted a year with that as bad as it was........THANKS to all the blogreaders such as yourself who offered advice, suggestions and their own stories. IT HELPED ME IMMENSELY.