Tuesday, January 1, 2019

We all fall down...

I fell down and hit my head.

Now I bet you’re thinking: Age-Related. You’re not thinking klutzy-related or athletic enterprise or slapstick or ha,ha,ha or so-what-else-is-new. You’re thinking uh, oh, fragility, weakness, elderly.


So when the little toddler on ice skates got confused and bumped around and came backwards at me, I knew I was in trouble. I’m not a hockey player; I can’t turn on a dime. First skate of the season, I’m a Tin Man on skates. So I went down backwards and my head slammed into the ice.

Going down on ice takes your breath away. Slamming your head takes that up many, many notches. I’m pretty sure I panicked inside, and when I realized my jaw didn’t seem to fit in my head any more, I was … distressed.

Suddenly, people were all around me: “Do you need an EMT? Do you want us to call 911? Do you want to go to the hospital?” Tim and Sophie walked me off the skating oval, and I sat on an upside-down bucket. Sophie was worried, “You didn’t cry in Florida.”

“When was I in Florida?” (Was I crying now?)

“Typhoon Lagoon.” Oh, that’s right, I’d cracked my head before going down a water slide while we were on the National Waterpark Tour. I don’t remember that hurting. I just remember the blood everywhere. When I got to the bottom, 10-year-old Sophie exclaimed, “Mommy, all your hair dye came out all at once.”

So Friday, Sophie insisted she had to take my hat off and see if my head was bleeding. It wasn’t. She was relieved. I said, “Y’know what’s really killing me? That everyone here at this whole big Winter Solstice event is probably saying, ‘Did you hear about the old lady that fell?’”

I was on a plane a year or so ago and got up to stand in line for the restroom. Next thing I knew, I was lying on the floor and the flight attendants were telling me to stay there. Then they announced for any health professional onboard to come to the rear of the plane. It was all very confusing since no one else was required to get on the floor, just me.

Since then, I have learned that if you get up too fast from an airplane seat, you can faint. I guess I took down the flight attendant’s coffee pot with me. But it was the look on their faces that said not anyone can faint; only old, frail, infirm, elderly people faint. And then it’s so tragic.

When you’re 20 years old and you faint – I have low blood pressure, I’ve fainted my whole life – you get up, laugh, and people make jokes. They tell you how funny it was.

Now they look at me with Concern. I’m on the downhill slide to bedridden.

Am I being too sensitive? Do you know what I’m describing? Do we look … pitiable … if we stumble and fall?

Now, I must admit, the thing that sticks with me most about the whole event was a very kind woman named Mary (whom I’d met over at the hot chocolate station earlier). Mary stood next to me and said, “Relax into your body and let it tell you what it needs” or something like that which was incredibly calming and true, and I did it. I’d guess Mary was in her Third Third, too.

Very quickly, the daughter-with-an-iPhone looked into my eyes to make sure my pupils were the same size. When we got home, she looked at me again. She was worried because there were dark circles under my eyes, and that’s A Sign. “Or are those dark circles always there? It’s not blood pooling, is it?”

This is why we have children.

Then she said, “I just don’t want you to be a Natasha Richardson story! She hit her head, came home, hung out with her family, and died later. Do you have a headache?”

“What do you mean ‘hung out’!?! Like she was fine and then she died?”

“Only because she had a headache later.”

“But if I take Tylenol, will that mask the killer headache I might have?!?”

“Don’t worry. We’re watching to see if you deteriorate.”

This is why we have children.

Okay, it’s days later. It still hurts to brush my hair over the spot, and my jaw can’t tackle a bagel, but I haven’t deteriorated.

Hooray, I have not deteriorated!


  1. I understand. I slipped on the ice 3 weeks ago and hit my head so hard on the ice! I went to the emergency room (which was only 2 blocks away). The admitting nurse said, "How did you get here?" I said I drove. She said, "That wasn't very smart." I just didn't say anything but thought, here I am and my head is swelling up and just take care of me... My head is still sore but getting better.

  2. I bet it hurts to brush your hair over The Spot, too! Sorry for your fall; I feel for you.

  3. Sorry to hear, Barbara. It seems to part of the plan, doesn't it? Our parents and theirs and so on, all have gone through this ageing and worse, I hear Stephen Fry tell some audience that the 'first person to live to 200 has already been born.'

    And my reaction is, 'What good is that? when we'll just be old even longer? and humans are all being shoved aside by bio-mechines we’re creating to make our lives better? FOR WHAT???

    But my story is the same: I had a bad fall on a busy intersection right by one of London's biggest unis last year -- was rushing against the light and came to a 'safe spot' where I tripped and took a full-on, take-down face-splat (well, nearly) into the pavement.

    Limped up and bloodied my left knee, tore my trousers, and had scrapes on my hands for good disaster effect -- so when a fellow rushed over to check on my status, with a friendly, caring 'Hello, are you all right?' I motioned him away brushing myself off, bolting to my feet and telling him I was fine, just clumsy!

    Yup, I'm with you. I know I looked vulnerable for the first time in my life and I understood for the very first time why my father HATED when people called him, 'cute' as he entered older age.

    I guess I'll suffer the indignities. It's better than the alternative, after all.

    1. I know the instinct to "bolt to one's feet" to show we're fine, really we're fine. What killed me was the fact that I couldn't manage the bolting bit. So is the indignity that? And not the crowd's reaction? Hmmm... I never heard a man being called cute.

  4. A few years back, in New Zealand, I think, we were on a boardwalk looking at hot springs. I got distracted by a plume of steam and tripped on a step. It really knocked the wind out of me. I knew nothing was broken, but I wasn't ready to get up. I needed to just lie there for a few minutes and collect myself. But all these people rushed over to help me but they weren't actually helpful. I didn't want to have to keep answering their questions about whether I was ok, and I didn't want to have to get up to prove I was ok, I just wanted to lie there for a few minutes and be left alone. And be invisible, of course.


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