Falls Prevention Awareness Day Has New Meaning for Me
Many years ago, my grandfather ended up in the hospital due to a bad fall. Luckily, he didn’t break any bones and was released after a brief stay. I don’t have strong memories from this experience, but one thing I do recall is the bright yellow “FALL RISK” wristband he had to wear.
I can’t say why I remember this wristband so well, but I know I felt a surge of fear every time I looked at his wrist. I knew his condition must be bad if the hospital staff thought he would topple over at any second.
If someone would have told me I’d be wearing that same wristband 10 years later, I would’ve laughed in their face. I never thought I would be considered a fall risk at the age of 20, but none of us can predict what life will throw at us.
This year’s Falls Prevention Awareness Day — which is today — makes me think of the times when I was considered a fall risk due to my myasthenia gravis (MG). It didn’t matter if I was experiencing muscle weakness or not — every time I was in the hospital, they slapped that yellow band around my wrist before I could even blink. I have experienced three hospital stays due to my MG, and all of them have that yellow wristband in common.
Every time I wanted to go the bathroom, take a walk, or just sit in a chair, a nurse had to be right next to me in case I fell. At first, it really affected my outlook on things. Would I be a fall risk for the rest of my life? Would someone always need to be beside me for even the most mundane activities? What little positivity I took with me to the hospital was slowly crushed by that simple yellow accessory.
By my second and third hospital stays, my opinion had changed. While I didn’t like to have my weakness literally spelled out for everyone to see, I soon found that it was in my best interest to wear one.
During my second hospital stay, I needed to visit the bathroom in the middle of the night. Against strict instructions from the nurse, I decided to get out of bed without calling for assistance. I almost fell down 10 times before I even got past the end of the bed.
Before I could continue my perilous journey, a nurse ran into my room. She said my blood pressure had shot up, and she thought something was wrong. She wasn’t incorrect, as I was exhausted and growing weaker by the second. I gladly let her assist me.
For those with MG, falls are a real risk of the disease. It’s important to understand that being considered a fall risk isn’t meant to embarrass anyone, but rather to make sure they don’t injure themselves.
So, today, Sept. 22, as we recognize Falls Prevention Awareness Day, I’ll be thinking of those who helped me to avoid injury, and of those who don’t yet have the support they need.
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