Taking a Trip ... But Not a Vacation

After 2 years, we finally traveled from Florida to New Jersey to visit our new grandchild that we have never seen. We stayed in a hotel near their home. This is the first real trip we've taken since the start of the pandemic. Everything was fine on our flight and trip to the hotel.

I had multiple falls

However, this was the first time I had multiple falls in a single day. First, I had fallen in the hotel room. The chair at the desk had wheels. Then, I had another fall in the carpeted hallway of the hotel.

I was walking with a cane and was assisted by my wife. Quickly, without warning, my left leg buckled and I fell flatly on my face. I suffered a broken nose and lacerations to my face and knees. Near the elevator, I had to be hoisted back to my feet by 2 good strong men walking in the hallway.

The third time, I was walking out of a local store to my car. Once again, I fell. My left leg buckled again. This time, 3 women were going into the store and gently picked me up.  Thankfully, no damage occurred.

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Increasing my medicine

What was happening to me? Was I transitioning to another stage of Parkinson's disease? I called my movement disorder neurologist and told her of the day's experience. She told me to take another dose of carbidopa/levodopa, bringing me to 4 doses a day, in addition to 1 dose of amantadine daily. She made an appointment for me when I returned home to Florida.

I was worried

Thinking back to this event, I had experienced many feelings. Being scared and embarrassed, I was worried that Parkinson's disease was progressing. Since I am a lefty, I was now very concerned that side of my body was more affected than the right side.

My internal voice was saying, "Now Marc, you are really in trouble!". This event triggered a sense of anxiety, depression, and despair in me. It also added to my post-traumatic stress disorder.

At home safety

When I finally returned to my home, I had to make safety changes. I did an environmental screening that can prevent falling in many ways.

I removed all throw rugs and clutter from the floors. In addition, loose electrical wires had to be off the floor and secured to the baseboard. In the bathroom, I put non-skid mats and non-skid tape on the shower floor. I added automatic night lights in the halls and bathrooms.1

Remembering how to walk safely

When walking, I remember to swing my arms alternately when taking a step with my opposite foot to maintain balance. This pattern of walking helps my posture and reduces falls.

I also keep my hands free when walking to maintain balance. I avoid quick sharp turns and take wider turns to decrease the chance of losing my balance, now walking more slowly.

I do not wear rubber sole shoes anymore because they might stick to the floor and cause me to trip. For every change of foot movement, I count 15 seconds before moving. There are other methods to help with reducing falling, such as using a cane, a walker, or walking stick.

Research has also shown that exercise can help prevent falls, especially exercises that focus on improving balance and flexibility.1

For further information on reducing falling, contact your neurologist or physical therapist for options.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The ParkinsonsDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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