First I'll give you a description of what the first three or four of these episodes felt like: At first it only happened if I'd been sitting at my typing chair or on the edge of my bed watching TV. I'd stand up and feel an intense gathering of the muscles of my pelvic girdle. The muscles would all bunch or begin to feel as if they were in a spasm or cramp. It was instantaneous and though not exactly painful, it was the strangest sensation I've ever had. Not exactly a cramp but a more like a muscle seizure, as if they were grabbing my hips tightly, so tightly that the next sensation I felt was the loss of mobility of my legs. I felt my legs go useless and floppy. I had to hold on to something just to stay upright. I leaned on a desk or the back of a chair to hold myself upright while my legs were useless. First the knees buckled and then my feet went floppy. It wasn't just the muscles surrounding my hips and buttocks that were seized this way; it was the interior muscles as well as if my bladder and bowel were also in a gathered, spasmed state. And in each case I felt I needed to head to the bathroom pronto, but had to help my legs by picking them up with my hands and helping them move forward. My feet would flop out and then hold. And within a few seconds my pelvic girdle would uncramp and my legs would come back online.
In the recent past I took a couple of falls. Both falls were easy to explain. When the first on happened I was trying to find out what was wrong with the clothes dryer (loaded with clothing fresh from the washing machine and so adding considerable weight to the dryer) so I muscled the dryer away from the back wall and then wedged myself around the side of the dryer to peer at the place where the vent hose attaches to the back of the dryer close to the floor. It was a tight fit, me between the dryer and the short wall beside it. I was both bending over and stretching to reach the back of the dryer when my feet lost contact with the floor and I tipped forward onto my head, neck, and shoulder. Even to me, struggling to get my feet on the floor, it had a comic aspect. Just tip me over and pour me out. The other fall was my flight from the end of the movie Crazy Heart which was a kind of mad dash from my past. I tripped and fell on my side, all the way down, from head to toe. It knocked the wind out of my and I lay there stunned for a moment in the still dark theater. I don't think the falling and the odd loss of the use of my legs and feet are related. I don't think the falling was much more than clumsiness. But I've been experiencing sever lower back pain. This is nothing new, and it doesn't take much to tweak the muscles in my lower back. I spent more than a year in the grip of sciatica in 2003. Often the pain was so intense I could do nothing but weep and wait for the pain to lessen so I could climb the rest of the stairs.
But three days ago I was standing at the kitchen counter fixing myself a chicken sandwich and it happened. I wish I'd watched the kitchen clock as it happened, so I'd know how long it lasts. It's probably only seconds, but seems much longer since the sensation is so intense and goes through a very specific progression. This time I was standing up. This time I did lose control of my bladder, this time I realized whatever it is it's serious. Leda keeps coming to mind.
Leda and the Swan
A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill, He holds her helpless breast upon his breast. How can those terrified vague fingers push The feathered glory from her loosening thighs? And how can body, laid in that white rush, But feel the strange heart beating where it lies? A shudder in the loins engenders there The broken wall, the burning roof and tower And Agamemnon dead. Being so caught up, So mastered by the brute blood of the air, Did she put on his knowledge with his power Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?