It Was the Sidewalk's Fault!

The sidewalk did it! I like to tell people that I was attacked by the sidewalk. It wasn’t my fault. Really, it wasn’t.

It seems that every time I am starting to get back on track with my exercise and self-care routine, something happens. Parkinson’s disease (PD) has a funny way of reminding you that it is always there, waiting for you to do something wrong.

This time was different

When I fell while walking with my husband a few weeks ago, I never imagined the outcome would be as bad as it is. I tripped on an uneven sidewalk and landed squarely on my left shoulder.

Previous falls had been relatively minor before this, with a broken finger one time and a small fracture in my foot another time. All because I drag my right foot because of Parkinson’s. Not noticeable, but enough to show excessive wear on all of my right shoes.

So why was it different this time? It is hard to say, but we were talking as we walked and I wasn’t paying attention to the sidewalk below me. It happened so fast, I could not put my hands out to break the fall. My husband said he did not see it coming either, nor did he have time to reach out to stop my fall.

A fractured shoulder

The end result is that I have a proximal fracture in my humerus. In other words, I fractured the bone near the top of my left arm. Apparently this is a very common injury in older people.

The healing process is very slow and painful. You can’t put a cast on a shoulder. I wore a sling for the first 2 weeks, but my elbow hurt so much because of being immobilized for so long that the doctor told me to stop using it.

The pain is finally starting to subside, but it will be at least 2-3 months before it is gone. I will start physical therapy in a couple of weeks to restore range of motion and alleviate the pain.

Timing is everything

About 2 months ago, I signed up for the TOPAZ trial, which is sponsored by the Parkinson’s Foundation, Fox Trial Finder, the National Institutes of Health, and several other organizations. The goal of the TOPAZ study is to help PD patients avoid fractures that can lead to loss of quality of life and physical function.

The TOPAZ study will test if zoledronate, an FDA-approved medicine commonly used to treat osteoporosis, can prevent fractures and decrease the risk of death in those:

  • Age 60 and over
  • With Parkinson's disease or Parkinsonism
  • Who have not had a hip fracture

About 2 months ago, a nurse came to my home to give me a one-time infusion of the drug. I do not know if I am in the drug test group or the control placebo group. I need to keep a daily diary of my falls and will be contacted by a nurse every few months to see how I am doing. To date, I have only had the one fall since I received the infusion.

I don’t know how long it takes for the drug to become fully effective after the infusion. It apparently wasn’t long enough for me if I did receive zoledronate. When the clinical trial is over, I will find out if I received the drug or a placebo.

If I failed the test, I can always blame it on the sidewalk!

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