My MS Symptom – Balance

This week Declan Groeger channels his inner Ronan Keating! From roller coasters, to walls and walking, here’s his take on dealing with balance issues and never, ever, giving in.  

There I was strolling along not really going anywhere, dawdling, wasting a bit of time when I suddenly wobbled and had to use a nearby wall for support. It was early afternoon and no drink was involved. I put the incident to one side, filed it away as a one-off and of no consequence but I was so wrong. 

Compromised balance was one of my earlier symptoms and also one of the most noticeable. There are many other and far more significant symptoms but these are subjects for another day.

I like a pint of lager or a glass of wine but I was never a heavy drinker but ‘MS Wobbles’, a.k.a. loss of balance, caused me to drink even less. I’m not drunk, I have MS.

I am not sure when the ‘Furniture Crawl’ snuck into my life, but snuck in it did, without me really being aware until it was firmly entrenched. You know what I mean- holding on to the back of a chair for stability while walking, leaning against something solid or sitting down while having a conversation.  

I loved the thrill of roller coasters, those long slow climbs and the huge short sharp drops. As a family we did them all - Alton Towers, Blackpool, Port Aventura and Euro Disney but roller coasters and MS don’t mix. Problems with balance are exacerbated by the high-speed twists and turns and steep drops and after my last ride it took so long to recover that I just decided that the thrill was no longer worth the pain. I miss roller coastering. 

Balance is very important because without it you cannot stand and if you can’t stand you certainly can’t walk and without balance you will be likely to take a tumble. Falling is not good and it may have disastrous consequences. I have had a number of falls over the years but thankfully no really serious ones.

I refuse to give up on walking although there are worse things than losing the ability to walk. This is where my stubborn streak shines at its brightest- I just will not give in. I use a rollator around the house and I use a wheelchair for longer trips. 

Do I have any suggestions? I am not a physiotherapist or a gym instructor but I would advise everyone to protect their core strength. Exercise those trunk muscles. Sit up straight when you can – don’t slouch. Yoga is good. Exercising in a swimming pool, even if you can’t swim, is good. These exercises need not be strenuous but talk to your physiotherapist before doing anything new.

What do you do? 

Declan

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