Women growing older with grace and gusto

Taking a fall


Two weeks before Christmas, on a Monday morning, I had a nasty fall in my kitchen.

Why am I telling you? Because there was something about it that foreshadowed for me what it may be like to be old and frail. And that got me thinking about vulnerability.

But first, the fall. It was, perhaps, down to vanity. I had bought a new pair of shoes (see pic). They are gorgeous: metallic pewter leather lace-ups which give a real edge of drama to a pair of plain grey flannel trousers, or jeans. Wearing them for the first time that morning, I checked myself out in the mirror: looking spiffy! But what I had not reckoned with was their virgin, smooth, slippery soles.

I reached up to take a breakfast dish from a cupboard in my kitchen and slipped on something on the floor – a tiny patch of oil perhaps. My feet simply went from under me and I fell backwards. You know how these things seem to happen in slow motion? As I fell, I somehow had time to be thankful I had moments before closed up the dishwasher so I wouldn’t bash into it on the way down. And then I connected with the floor and banged the back of my head, hard.

After a stunned second or two, I realised I hadn’t lost consciousness, and that this was probably good! I felt the back of my head and there was no blood or anything else sinister. Shakily, I got to my feet and took stock. No broken bones. Bizarrely, one of the first things I did was jump onto Google and look for symptoms of concussion and head injury. Well trained in the digital world, me! I had no nasty symptoms then, nor in the following days, just a painful lump on my head and, when I awoke the next morning, a lot of aches and pains and bruises on various body parts.

But I couldn’t get the fall out of my mind. I kept obsessing on “what ifs?” What if I had cracked my head open? What if I’d broken a bone? What if I’d been incapacitated? The next day I also managed to catch a nasty cold, and began wondering if the normal muggy-headedness of a cold was something worse. It’s actually taken me until now, two and a bit weeks later, to feel back to normal. I realise I was profoundly shocked by what happened.

Maybe this is a good thing. Maybe we all need to feel vulnerable at times and realise how close we come to the edge. How important it is to keep physically strong but at the same time how the unexpected can still happen. I’m being a little more careful around the house now, but don’t want to be afraid of what might happen, to be too cautious. People of all ages have accidents, some of them fatal. People of all ages get episodes of illness, some sudden and disabling.

Time to get the shoes out again, but this time I’m going to sandpaper the soles first before wearing them. I’m sure there’s a metaphor in there somewhere!

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13 Responses to Taking a fall

  1. Was that on December 7th, Tess? The reason I’m asking, is that I fell on that particular Monday!

    I was heading to my Coreball class…I had signed in at the counter and I turned and took off quickly to go to the area when we put our coats and outdoor shoes. I caught a floor mat with the tip of my shoe and I FLEW through the air parallel to the floor.

    During that “slow motion moment” I could see I was heading to the base of a machine, and although I worried that I would hit it…there was nothing I could do to prevent it.

    Gratefully, I stood up and checked for injuries. The little knuckle on my right hand was scraped, bleeding and getting a dark bruise around it. I was so grateful to realize that nothing (other than a little skin on my hand) was broken…but like you, large bruises and aches and pains followed.

    My lesson? SLOW DOWN…and BE MINDFUL.

    Happy to hear you are feeling better again!

    • Coreball is an exercise class where we do cardio-weights-and stretching. We use the large inflated Coreballs for several parts of the workout.

      Since I landed directly on my right hip, I’m thinking all of the tap dancing, clogging and Coreball helped to prevent a break.

      Like you, I could only imagine all of the injuries I might have sustained. I’m GRATEFUL…exceedingly GRATEFUL.

  2. Bless your heart — I had something similar, with fault laid to slick shoes, about 20 years ago (I was in my 40s). There was construction around the hospital where I worked, and I had to veer out into the street in order to get around the building and to the parking lot. I was in the middle of a step, my right heel slipped forward, my left toe slipped backward and I landed with my full weight right on my knee. Broke my left kneecap. I can attest to the feelings of vulnerability. Imagine trying to live independently in a second floor apartment (UK first floor) with your leg in a brace to keep your knee straight. I had to live with my folks for one long agonizing week, with my dad listening to the TV for hours with the sound on stun, until I just practically got hysterical and demanded to be taken back to my apartment. The walker was too wide for the bathroom door and I had to go in sideways. I was in rehab for months after two surgeries (one to wire the kneecap so it would heal and a second to remove the wires once it had). The feeling of vulnerability still persists 20 years later. It happened in December — the 15th, as I recall. And I’ve got this honking great scar down the center of my knee to remind me of how precious my independence is.

  3. Tess glad you are OK. Also glad you are ok Sue! One year ago I also had a fall and I was sore for a couple of weeks. Fortunately nothing was broken. It scared me and I did what we all do-all the “what-ifs”!!! I was full of gratitude that nothing was broken as I fell Hard and the lesson learned was to slow down and be mindful.

  4. I had a hard “wake-up fall” of my own on the ice last winter. No serious damage, but it did make me realize the extent to which I’m banking on being healthy and mobile right up to the end. (Of which there is no guarantee, of course.) So my “what if” generator went into overdrive, as well.

    And I got a lot of “At your age!” based concern from some (much younger) coworkers, which left me feeling rather decrepit. (I’m sure 53 seems much older to them than it does to me. :)) It certainly could’ve been worse and I’m very grateful that it wasn’t. And shall be more mindful of where I step this winter!

    I’m glad you’ve recovered from both the fall and the nasty cold. And hope the sandpaper worked on those lovely shoes!

  5. OUCH!! I’m late reading this as I expected no post until after New Year’s day but here you are with this tale of misadventure. 3 cheers that you’re okay despite your mishap!

    Your musings about what might have happened bring me to why I keep my cell phone charged and in my pocket, all day, every day. Just in case. Decades ago when I was young, I decided to wallpaper our loo while DH was out of town. I was home alone, so (being an ER nurse), I put the phone on the floor just in case I needed to call for help because I’d fallen off of the ladder and broken me in some way.

    You can exercise due care, but it’s not always enough. In a sermon long ago, the pastor said due care was good enough unless you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, you fell in love with a bad person, in time of war or floods, there was a banana peel on the floor, earthquake, etc. He went on to say life couldn’t be lived by the “what ifs” but to rely on the God who loves you to be there no matter what happens.

    As our son is fond of saying, an Oriental proverb is “Pray to God but row away from the rocks.”

    Now I’ll read what others have written!


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