Sunday, November 6, 2011

Stuff I wish I didn't know: falling

About a month ago, enjoying a walk around the lake in Como Park, I tripped and fell. Hard.

I’d fallen once before, so I was very conscious of getting my hands in front of me. Good, I thought, I’ve broken my fall. But my head had momentum, and I couldn't stop it. My cheekbone hit, but not heavily like fifteen years ago when I landed flat on my nose, teeth, and chin.

Two women helped me up and made sure I was okay. And I was, sort of. I’d been in high spirits just before that one false step, laughing at the antics of a little dog being walked by one of the women now helping me. I got up, not quite as quickly as I intended. I took stock.

My hands stung; they were full of tiny cuts from the devilishly jagged bits of gravel embedded in the walking path. I knew I’d have bruises on my face, hip, and shoulder. I didn’t know yet about the pulled something-or-other near my ribcage, but for the next two weeks it would stab me every time I sneezed, and occasionally it would cause me to blurt out a four-letter word. Since I didn’t know about that yet, I mostly worried about the bruise on my face, which turned out to be minimal.  

I walked back to my car and drove to the fish-and-chips shop to pick up dinner.  It felt like the “plucky” thing to do, although I tried to shield my hands, which didn’t look very appropriate to be in a place where food was served.

From that fall, I learned three things I’d rather not know.    

  1. Crushed rock used in paving projects is razor-sharp and jagged, and bears no resemblance to the friendly rounded pebbles fished out of stream beds for use in, say, playgrounds.
  2. No good deed goes unpunished (okay, I’ve been saying this for a while). I was, after all, trying to get stronger and healthier by walking that path.
  3. I have reached an age, or perhaps a state of mind and body, at which falling makes me older. I didn’t feel embarrassed; I felt vulnerable and old. When you feel that way, it’s easy to act that way. My cuts and bruises have healed, but it has taken a while to get my confidence back. This is complicated by that fact that there is always something else that can go wrong…but that’s a topic for another day.
Still, I am reminded every day that I have a great life and that it would be ridiculous to waste it worrying about the small stuff. I’m starting again on efforts to get stronger and healthier. But I’ll be doing that indoors for a while. I don’t do winter.  


36 comments:

Kristin said...

I've been feeling that way lately too. And I don't like it. Trying to exercise. I can't walk outside like I used to because of foot problems and I need to just get off the computer and do my inside routine. Do you do strength training too?

Lo said...

With you every step of the way.

When I slipped on wet bricks and fell on my brick steps in March of 2010 I only broke my hip, but it changed my life in many ways. Happily, I mended and am still mobile, but I am as careful as possible now. We are somewhat fragile.....as I say to everyone now, "Be well and don't fall down."

Sharon Longworth said...

I've always been a bit clumsy and have tripped and fallen more times than I care to remember - it's so easily done, a moment's distraction, a slightly uneven path. I hope you get out and about as soon as there's sunshine again!

gayle said...

I know exactely what you are talking about! I am so afraid that I'm going to break something. I can't even squat without falling on my bottom!Glad to hear you didn't break anything!

Jeanie said...

I'm glad you weren't hurt any worse. A fall at any age can be dangerous. I find that I often tell myself to slow down lately....I have fallen a few times in the past just from moving too fast and not paying attention.
I hope you have gotten your confidence back and will be out walking again whenever the weather permits.

Ellen said...

Oh Nancy, I'm so sorry about your fall. I feel for you. Especially when you fall while trying to strengthen your body. That's just not right. You and I are alike, I don't do winter either. It's a jungle out there - stay safe!!!!

Teresa Evangeline said...

Nancy, Last week, I was getting irritated by something and got so wrapped up in my irritation that I stumbled over the apron of cement in front of my house and fell down. I didn't hurt anything, but it was the first time I've fallen down for as long as I can remember. It's very disconcerting, isn't it? It was a strong reminder to me to stay in the moment. but, sometimes, things happen so fast it's impossible to see them coming. I hope all is healing well, including the after-effects that make us feel vulnerable.

Dee Ready said...

Dear Nancy, this falling business as one ages looms large. For myself, it happens when I get caught up in looking--as you did--at something that's beautiful or lovely or intriguing. The feet and mind then aren't working together--not in sync!--and I stumble. Lots of times I catch myself but then I sort of wrench my back!

I've just recently starting walking again in the neighborhood and so your posting today is timely for me.

Peace.

Colleen said...

I'm so glad you weren't seriously hurt!!!

Linda Myers said...

Three years ago I fell twice in six weeks. I decided then to pay attention. I haven't fallen since.

However, I did sit down badly in March of this year and hurt my back. I must have been thinking about something else. I've learned from that to pay attention to the height of the sitting surface.

Far Side of Fifty said...

I am so glad you are okay. "Stuff" happens..but falls can really be bad. Take good care of you! Winter..ice..yuk..I try to be really careful:)

Golden To Silver Val said...

I'm so glad you're ok and have healed up. I know exactly what you're talking about...I don't do winter either and have told it repeatedly that it's not welcome at my house....but let's just say it has bad manners and keeps coming back. I took a fall down a friend's porch steps onto a cement patio. I really do think these extra pounds padded me enough to prevent breakage. Now I find myself being extra careful around stairs. For the first time walking on all fours sounds appealing.....never see a cat or dog fall down. *giggle*

400 Wakeups said...

Ha! I don't do winter either. They are replacing the lighting over the track and have it closed for a week. It's really throwing me off of my game. Falling in general is an incredibly embarrassing thing and actually scares me more than speaking in public. I wish there was a way we could sumo suits and not be obvious!

troutbirder said...

No kidding. I don't do winter either. Two backward flips on snow covered ice on the way to filling my backyard bird feeders switched me to full time winter book reading and crossword puzzle working last year..... :(

DJan said...

Well, you know I hike every week and would feel just terrible if I missed it. But I use trekking poles and wouldn't even try to walk on uneven surfaces without them. Four points of contact with the ground makes it much better.

But even so, I trip and fall fairly often and have earned a reputation as a bit of a klutz. I once tripped over my own pole and fell on those jagged rocks you describe, skinning both knees through my nylon pants. It was embarrassing, but I figure I'd better keep falling to keep myself in practice! :-)

Ms Sparrow said...

We don't bounce back as well when we get older. I remember when I was a kid I'd sometimes fall on the cinder driveway and wind up with impressive scabs on my knees. Now that the knees are creaky, I walk slower and more carefully and haven't fallen lately. But, winter is coming and the icy sidewalks scare me a lot.

Nezzy said...

Oh bless your heart sweetie. I feel your pain.

No, really I FEEL your pain. My puppy Pepper Nipper tripped my today and I fell into the wood pile.

There's no give to wood either. Heeehehe!!!

Just another day 'round the Ponderosa. I must do winter...but I don't have to like it!

God bless and have beautiful week!!! :o)

Take care.........

grammy said...

Oh my goodness...I think of this all the time. I do fall...I have MS...so I am aware of my draggyness.. somewhat clumsiness OK ...down right clumsy!(o:
I have to remind myself to get my hands OUT of my pockets!!!
Loved the kids in their costumes...
I would have been so curious about that monkey!!!

Green Monkey said...

Blissed! you're making me feel better about my pedicab fall but even so.. I hear you loud and clear. Especially when its slippery out. I am way too guarded. We feel more as we get older. ... the cold, the pressure of shoes. and when we fall, its a big deal. confidence is all mind and mind is key. be well... be strong... (very well written story)

Retired English Teacher said...

I'm glad you weren't hurt as in breaking a bone. I know exactly what you are saying. Falls are dangerous at our age. They do rob us of our confidence. They make us feel old and vulnerable.

I stepped on a very small rock ten years ago and fell because I lost my balance. I hit my elbow because I was protecting my hands. (I didn't want to break my wrist.) It turns out that I broke my elbow. (I taught three classes before I would admit how badly I was hurt.) I was on disability for six weeks, couldn't work, and then during the summer, I had to have surgery. It was only a little tiny rock. I still have it. It shattered my world for a while.

Take care. Take Pilates. It builds your core and your confidence. That is what I did, and it really helped.

Grandmother said...

I'm sorry to hear about your fall and loss of confidence. I fell when on a hike recently and couldn't figure out why in order not to do it again. No damage done other than scrapes but it did shake me up. Good for you for going back walking.

Nancy said...

I fell a few months ago. My nightgown hooked on the leg of the coffee table and I went down - hard. A friend was visiting who is several years older than I and she insisted I cut off all of my nightgowns immediately! LOL Seriously though, a fear of falling is serious and I'm glad you were not hurt any worse than you were.

The Broad said...

Many commiserations! All my life I've had clumsy moments that have lead to falling. I don't know how I didn't kill myself in the age of platform shoes -- they are back again, I see! Last winter I went 'kerplop' on black ice when crossing the street and could not get up without help for I couldn't see where the ice was and wasn't... The other day I fell when I tripped over a suitcase in the dark -- we had just returned from a weekend away -- hit my chin on the floor and was lucky to have only a minor cut on my lip. As somebody once said, "Old age is not for sissies"!

laurie said...

oh, man, i am SO SORRY to hear this!! and i know what you mean about falling making you feel older.... i am noticing that my balance isn't exactly perfect all the time anymore, and it scares me.

Red Shoes said...

Oh NO!!!! I am SO sorry...

*sighs*

I turned 60 yesterday... I never really ever started feeling 'old' until I turned 59... and now I am really feeling it... it's amazing the difference that just 366 days make... back when I was 58...

I do hope you are ok and are on the mend...

Thank you for the birthday greeting over at my place...

~shoes~

Bea Skeens said...

So glad that you are feeling better! I fell while starting on my exercise walk way back in June and broke my ankle! Like you, I didn't get help right away. I was in denial and didn't want to admit my weakness! I went inside and didn't ask for help. I changed clothes while on the floor and then laid on the sofa, with ice on the ankle, waiting for my husband to come home from getting coffee. Everyone asked how I did it, but the worst thing was that there was nothing that caused me to fall, I just twisted my ankle. Now I'm still babying it but walking again finally. I feel your pain!

Jeanie said...

Oh, dear -- I am so, SO, sorry for you. I've had my share of falls and every one makes me feel much the same -- older and far less resiliant. All that and a rib, too. Had that one, also, so I know the pain of coughing, sneezing or even laughing too hard. I'm glad you are feeling better and hope you continue to improve.

Your tips are good ones. The confidence point you make hits home.

I've been away a bit. It's so nice to visit again!

Deb Shucka said...

I've fallen, too, and felt the same way you do here. For the first time I understand how old people can fall and break bones - and understanding I would prefer not to have. Hope you heal quickly, and that winter goes by fast.

sunny said...

like your post.

Nezzy said...

'Just checkin' in to see how your doin'. I pray all is well.

God bless ya sweetie!!!

Donna Henderson said...

Been there, done that, broke my right wrist. Trying to use your hands to break your fall is actually not that good of an idea. Now I use a walking stick for balance. It helps a lot. Nice blog. Sign me up!

Pearl said...

Oh, so sorry!!

I took up yoga because I have always been a "faller". Figured it was my ankles, and it has helped immensely. Sometimes, though, you fall...

Pearl

JDS said...

You were outside engaging in physical activity when it happened, so treat it like a battle wound ("these things happen when you brave the outdoors in the cold, blustery, Upper Midwest") and it will feel better. Some people might say that's a silly "man" thing to do, but trust me it works!

CherylK said...

I'm pretty sure it wasn't your fault...there was probably something sticking out on the path which anyone could have fallen over. No matter what the age!

I'm sorry you got all scraped up and hope by now you're healing well. I love Como Park, by the way.

bettyl said...

I know what you mean. My thyroid meds were not adjusted well and I felt very vulnerable and insecure on any uneven surface. But the meds are better now and I feel more confident and I know that your confidence will return in time, too.

injaynesworld said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your fall. I've hit the ground many a' times myself and it's no fun. Usually a horse has been involved -- but once I actually fell off a pair of high heels. I still ride horses. Not so much with the heels.

Glad you're okay.

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