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Person reclining on their back in a tent with only their feed sticking out.

Help, I’ve Fallen and I Don’t Wanna Get Up.

The fall. No, I’m not talking about the season, or even “Legends of,” but the actual thing. Falling down. Hitting the ground. Losing your balance. Whatever euphemism you choose, it means one thing when you have RA – trouble.

It happened a week ago. A fall. My stupid ankle brace got hooked on something and I went ass-over-teakettle. I hit the ground with a resounding thud and I knew, instantly, it was going to be bad. In that moment, I just wanted to stay on the floor – just pop a tent over myself, move in a laptop, maybe a soda stream or coffee maker as well and just live right there on the floor, forever. I knew as soon as I tried to get up it would become readily apparent what got shoved where and whether or not I was going to have to go to the ED.

Falling on RA-impacted joints

God, nothing makes you feel ancient like falling down. Even if you are healthy, falling down makes you feel like a 90-year old. Add on the anxiety of falling with RA and it’s humiliating, terrifying, and painful, let’s not forget that one. Of course, I had to go down on concrete – it couldn’t have been carpet or marshmallow fluff, no, it had to be the basement concrete. If I was going to pick a place not to fall, it would be there. I went down on the side, and I knew, absolutely knew, my hips got slammed, and my hips ain’t exactly spring chickens.

Worried about my hips

I’ve had one since 1996, and the other since 1998 – when they were new the Internet was still called the “worldwide web,” and Hotmail was a service that matched you with a porn star for a pen pal. And they still had pen pals. And pens. And people still said “pal.” Sheesh, my hips are old. So you can see why I was concerned – one jolt the wrong way and bam! There goes the pelvic neighborhood. I’d have to get one of those new digital wi-fi hips that play Candy Crush and works your thermostat. Ugh, technology runs amok. (No, not a real thing.)

The disruption of recovery

There I was, down on the floor, just contemplating the “what ifs,” wondering how much time this was going to sap from my life. Because really, that’s what we are talking about, isn’t it? Most of the time when something suddenly impacts our RA or other chronic illness, it’s an interruption. A disruption in the life we’ve carefully built with two things – hard work and Doritos. I mean sheer will. Also Doritos too, ok three things.

It could be weeks in the hospital if something has to be fixed or replaced, possible permanent injury that makes getting around ten times more difficult – or it could lead to any number of issues that, ultimately, interrupt life and take away more of our precious time. Pain for people like us is a mere inconvenience compared to affecting our quality of life, our daily routine, it’s the real killer, and that was all weighing on my mind as I lay there on the concrete. The dirty concrete. I gotta clean the basement.

Why was this fall different?

I don’t know why it affected me more this time – I have fallen before. One time I took a digger in front of my physical therapy office in front of no less than seven people. It wasn’t like a tiny “oops, I fell!” either. It was a full-on, ten steps trying to catch myself, wind knocked out of me, bleating like a goat, slip-and-slide level wipe out. I remember lying there, watching two of the people sitting on the bench saying, “I am not getting involved in this boy’s fall,” and going inside and the only thing I could think was, “what a bunch of witches.” (Edited for content, this is a family site.) I wasn’t worried about what I hurt or what the consequences were going to be, at least not in that moment.

Why did this latest fall make me think so much more, then? Age? More to lose? Hit my head and I was hallucinating? All of the above, I think. Well, not the last one. Thank God that pink elephant was there to help me up. I knew that the moment I moved I was going to have to deal with a whole new set of issues and things were going well, for once. Unfortunately, that seems to be the cycle with RA.

Rheumatoid arthritis is destructive

Anyone who suffers from chronic illness can agree on one thing – our illness has impeccable timing. More punctual than a British clockmaker, our diseases always rear their ugly head when we least expect it, can afford it, finally start to get things going. Basically, whenever things are looking up, it chimes in to say “can’t say Par-tayy without RA!” (My RA is a bad speller.) RA always arrives already drunk and makes a scene by urinating in your potted plant and groping the neighbor’s dog and then, on the way out, he burns your house down by throwing a lit cigarette in the trash can. That’s on one of his less destructive trysts, too. I think we all know, RA never shows up with a nice bottle of Chablis and says “let’s spend a quiet night in and just relax.” It’s always a fiasco, so who can blame me for not wanting to get up and light that fuse?

When I did eventually pull myself off the floor, my hips were angry, really angry. I ended up laid up for ten days or so but, on the bright side, I think I avoided any permanent damage. Now that I’ve said it out loud, though, as soon as I get up from this chair my leg will probably fall clean off. “RA’s here! Surprise, jerk!” Talk soon.

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

Comments

  • rida
    1 month ago

    I’m new to this community. To be honest, I was not excited to register. I was diagnosed with RA last Feb. RA and excitement are not friends in my world, lately. However, I couldn’t stop laughing reading the article above and the comments 🙂 Looking forward to learn (and laugh) with the experienced/experts. Glad to register 🙂

  • rida
    3 weeks ago

    Thanks. It’s my first rainy season with RA. So far not too bad. Cross my fingers (while I still can lol…)

  • Daniel Malito moderator author
    4 weeks ago

    @rida First, let me say welcome! I know the first few years when you are diagnosed can be overwhelming and a bit scary. I have always figured that RA gives us more than enough to cry about, we might as well laugh at the things that, objectively, are funny. I’m so happy you took the time to read, and to laugh, and I’m ecstatic you joined our growing RA community. Again, welcome, and thanks. Keep on keepin’ on, DPM

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    1 month ago

    Rida,

    We are so glad to have you. You have joined a large caring community. We do have a few grins, but we also know that RA is serious. I think it is the seriousness that leads to the humor.

    Pain and discomfort is not easy to deal with. I hope in time you will feel good enough to regain your humor. My wife says my humor is even tolerable sometimes. I mean not often, but sometimes.

    Welcome and laugh a lot.

    rick – moderator

  • Saada
    1 month ago

    I’m just going to say it: Daniel, I couldn’t stop laughing.

    First, I’m really glad that you didn’t end up in the ER. It’s unfortunate you were laid up for 10 days.

    Yet, you still chose to share your experience and in such a selfless way as to infuse humour. Many of us with RA know sometimes a good laugh can be hard to come by. In fact, if mine goes missing again, I’m calling you to give it bus fare and send it back to me.

    I’m in bed early because of my grumpy left hip. Read your piece and the chuckles turned into full out, cracking up (“My RA is a bad speller.” Now that’s a gem.) topped with hiccups and watery eyes. I even had to read you aloud to a boyfriend who looked somewhat uncomfortable from where he stood, not quite getting it.

    Meanwhile, the grumpy hip was peeved. Hates being ignored. So thank you, Daniel, for helping me to walk away from its tantrum.

    I will reach you any day because you have RA, but you’ve also got jokes.

    Wiping my eyes,
    Saada’s

  • Daniel Malito moderator author
    4 weeks ago

    @saada Im glad! Seriously, if you couldn’t stop laughing then that means it’s working! 🙂 I know, maybe you have to have RA to get it, but we can share in the laughter over all. I’m thrilled, really. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and taking the time to laugh yourself silly. Keep on keepin’ on, DPM

  • Saada
    1 month ago

    Don’t be afraid. I meant to say I will read you any day.

  • Daniel Malito moderator author
    4 weeks ago

    @saada Ha ha I was like ohhhh my first stalker! lol jk -DPM

  • 2mra
    1 month ago

    Geez Daniel, so sorry to hear of your fall(giggling in the background). Not sure what ass-over-teakettle means but I’m sure glad that you were able to get up without major wreckage. (Just with the help of your pink elephant.) That must have hurt like crazy glue.

    I share your RA conquests. I am not off-balance normally EXCEPT when I’m leaning forwards. I just seem to keep on going, feeling perfectly in control(in my positive mind). I’m not falling, I’ve gone shopping.

    My incident happened a year after my left THR and TKR in 2017. Just for the sake of picking ONE weed. An important task, for sure. Not four or five…ONE!

    My bones and face melted into the gravel on our driveway. Nope, not on a soft, fluffy cloud or queen-sized memory foam mattress…. but rough, unforgiving Gravel. Not as bad as a dirty basement floor, I’d imagine.

    I felt nothing but pain and a feeling that half of my nose and chin were missing. Oh, also embarassment! Of course, I was easily seen by the 8 car-clad people watching me attentively while they waited for the green light. Dangit!! Always love to entertain. NOT! Hmm! Now I wish I had had a tent and t.v. and just waited for my Hubby to come home and call 911 again. We are on first name basis.

    Instead, I painfully dragged myself off the gravel and proudly walked back into the house. Stupid weed!

    I fell again that year and was picked up by Paramedics and spent almost 7 weeks in the Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre.

    Unconsciousness caused that fall, so no embarrassment there. “NO! You cannot cut my jeans off. They’re brand new!”

    Sure hope that you feel better Daniel!!

  • Daniel Malito moderator author
    1 month ago

    @2mra Ugh, gravel, sounds like fun. Seven weeks in the hospital jeez, I don’t think people understand how much a fall can affect people like us. I know that feeling, “if you cut this shirt ill cut you!” lol, I get it. One time they cut me out of a pants that were expensive like that, I was mad. Ass over teakettle, it’s like a saying, that means you know, like fell over like a hot mess. 🙂 I hope you learned your lesson about picking weeds – now you just yell at them sternly I hope. Keep on keepin’ on, DPM

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    1 month ago

    My “new hip” was installed in 2013 and I already think about the 20 year expiration time which was quoted at instillation.

    I am glad you are doing well Daniel. I fell two years ago and now how a wonderfully twice reconstructed ankle and foot. I love my new ankle / foot metal. I gained 4 pounds of pure tungsten and stainless.

    Oh and by the way so do the gate security agents at TSA. When I stand inline for the metal detectors, I set them off when other people walk through them.

    A man cannot buy fun like that usually.

    BEEP BEEP BEEP SQUEAL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    rick

  • Richard Faust moderator
    1 month ago

    Hey Daniel and Rick. I’m kinda afraid to mention it, but three of Kelly’s replacements are now over 25. I’d say I don’t want to incite the RA gremlins, but they did their mayhem on the fourth joint with an infection and a couple of months with no knee before the new one could be put in. The 20 years often cited actually includes those that have to be pulled in a hurry. One study of knees found 96% of a commonly used type to still be going at 20 years (https://www.verywellhealth.com/how-long-do-knee-replacements-last-2549612). This page from Harvard Health discusses a Lancet study that found 15% of hips needing revision at 20 year mark and and 10.3% of knees (https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-long-will-my-hip-or-knee-replacement-last-2018071914272). Of course, the hope is that the technology has improved and newer equipment will last even longer. Best, Richard (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    1 month ago

    OMG a heater. Now we are talking – a core body heater form two hips. I am so in on that deal. Plus it could charge my phone and cook popcorn. Wow I am all about that.

  • Richard Faust moderator
    1 month ago

    Hey Daniel and Rick. I think Kelly wants the joint replacements with climate control, while I’m interested in anything that can help us get free streaming and cut the cord on cable. Actually, that climate control could be a thing – Kelly’s old hips get noticeably cold. Best, Richard (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • Daniel Malito moderator author
    1 month ago

    @lawrphil @richardf Yes, I want WiFi on my joint replacements like I have on my defibrillator. I mean, its 2019, right? Where is Star Trek Dr. McCoy when you need him? 🙂 Keep on keepin’ on, DPM

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    1 month ago

    But Richard, I want the upgraded model. I mean in 2013 I got the retro 5300 high impact plastic armor bullet resistant type dw hip. I hear the 6250 is now on the market and It is clear I need the upgrade.

    I mean heck in today’s world I no doubt need the extra Bluetooth compatibility with the baked right in. Plus if I can last one more year I will get the 18 year guaranteed lithium ion battery which is capable of charging my cell phone as well.

    I need that.

  • Daniel Malito moderator author
    1 month ago

    @lawrphil I tell people “Do you know the 7 million dollar man? Well I’m the 62 thousand dollar man – two hips, a shoulder, and an ankle. We got a bulk discount.” They laugh. The TSA usually believes me but sometimes they don’t and I have to bust out my 17 medical device cards. I have enough to play Go Replacement Fish. “Do you have any shoulders??” Keep on keepin’ on, DPM

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    1 month ago

    I lost a couple of my cards a few years back so I am no longer playing with a full deck. When I saw your note I checked and I found I am down to four cards. But I am determined to get more. You have set a high bar and I will try to swing for the fences next time.

    Now I am working with three autoimmune diseases. So if those could count a few cards, I might get back into the game.

  • Cynthia Ventura moderator
    1 month ago

    Daniel @danielpmalito only you could make a life threatening fall hilarious. Glad there was no permanent damage, of course until your leg falls off. Your posts never fail to make me snort in very unladylike ways. Thanks again LOL

  • Daniel Malito moderator author
    1 month ago

    @cynthiav Snorting? Yes, mission accomplished. I give this post 3/5 snorts – good enough to almost choke but not good enough for milk to come out of your nose, but I’m fine with that. My leg is still attached, btw, so it looks like crisis avoided for now. Thanks for reading, as always. 🙂 Keep on keepin’ on, DPM

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