Tuesday, March 29, 2011

When Stairs become your worst enemy

When it comes to climbing stairs most people just do it without even really thinking about it. I am sure plenty of people outside of the BMD community can climb stairs with little to no effort. Lately though when it comes to the progression of my Becker’s Muscular Dystrophy stairs have become a little bit of an problem for me. You see as my leg muscles grow weaker it has started to cause a few challenges resulting in me being a apprehensive about using stairs. These days even a small step even off of a curb can result in a fall. It’s the main reason why I always try to avoid having to use stairs. Recently it has even placed a few limitations on some of the things I enjoy to do. It has even started to effect my ability to climb the steps at the local movie theatre. It has also limited my ability to visit family and friends especially if there is no railing for me to use as a support. In recent years I have had to become very creative in dealing with stairs especially in those times when I have no other choice but to use them. 
 The one place where stairs seem to be impossible to avoid is at my local movie theatre. It’s the one reason why my wife and I always try and arrive at least a half hour early so I will have no trouble finding the perfect seat. This is also done so I can avoid the embarrassment I feel of a struggling to climb the stairs in front of a crowded movie theatre. It’s in these moments when it seems to feels like everyone is watching me and I never like being the centre of attention. Sure it’s possible that no one is even looking at me but it less stressful to make sure we arrive early so I don’t have to squeeze past other people to get to our seats. Then after nearly two hours the challenge arrives when the movie ends and it’s time to get up from our seats. Due to the progression of my Muscular Dystrophy I tend to struggle getting up from a seated position so this means I need a lot of room to stand back up. This is why I now wait until the entire movie theatre is empty before trying to get back up. It allows me to take my time and it really helps when it comes to going back down the steps we had to climb to get to our seats. It’s better than having to deal with the crowds of people who seem to be in a rush to leave the theatre when the movie is done. My main concern when going down the steps is one of my legs giving out causing me to fall. Over time I have learned that it is always best for me to take things at my own pace as it helps to reduce the risk of a fall. At this point when using stairs and even a few steps is to be very careful or just
avoid them all together.
With the progression of my Becker’s Muscular Dystrophy I understand some things in my life are going to change. My biggest frustration related to my issues with stairs is the fact that it is limiting me from being able to visit with family and friends. The main issue is that many new homes are built with four to five steps leading to the front entry. This is why I wish that I had my own home that was fully accessible so that friends and family could simply come and visit me. There’s truly nothing worse than being invited over to someone’s home on a wintery night and having to try and navigate snow and ice covered stairs. One year I attended a Christmas party and when we arrived noticed that there were almost 15 steps leading to the front door. Now if there is anything I have learned over the years it’s that while living with Becker’s Muscular Dystrophy there will be many surprises and challenges especially when it comes to stairs. Now I know one day I may have to make a permanent change when that day comes and I am unable to climb stairs anymore. It’s at that point when I will have to take a serious look at using a mobility scooter. Let’s hope when that day comes my family and friends don’t forget about me. Whatever happens over the next few years related to the progression of my Muscular Dystrophy I plan to learn to adapt and just
continue on living my life.

1 comment:

  1. Brad - I could have written this post myself!!! I totally remember going to the theater early and waiting for everyone to leave!

    And I experienced the same thing with going down steps too. Gravity was always helping me in that direction until my knees started giving out every now and then. Thank God I never chipped any teeth.

    Be safe! Buy a cheap cane if you need one. I found that once I started using one, I felt less embarrassed too because I felt like people would then just know I had a medical issue vs. just walking oddly. Anyhow, just wanted to pass that along. Take care, Dan