(SNN) My doctor has asked me to not fall down. I’ve attempted to honor his request, but it's easier said than done. Staying upright cannot be taken for granted if, like me, you own a fused ankle, Silly Putty knee joint, and have Peripheral Neuropathy in your tootsies. Here's what happened
We recently enjoyed a visit from our two out-of-town grandsons—Hurricane Mason, age 5, and Tobey the Tornado, Age 2. After a few days, I required momentary respite and snuck out to run some errands by myself.
First Requirement: Re-energize. That meant buying Espresso beans to give me a fighting chance to keep up with these beloved, energetic, two-legged perpetual motion machines. I also snagged a double Mediachino Grantourissimo Vanillamente Latte to go.
Leaving the coffee shop, I got all the way to the curb before I tripped.
When one trips, one of two things will happen: You will recover before you fall or you will not. If you recover, that’s good. If you do not, two things will happen. You will use your motor-skills and reflexes to limit the damage of the fall—that’s good— or you will auger in. That would be bad. “Auger in” is a scientific term for “Fall down, go boom.”
Like a pilot ejecting from a fighter jet, a quick decision when headed earthward is critical. Studies have shown many pilots delay ejecting from their aircraft until it is too late. Sometimes that’s for heroic reasons—such as steering the plane away from a populated area. But many pilots delay—often fatally—because they believe they can save the plane.
Likewise, a tripper must quickly assess the fall zone and ameliorate the damage. What is the terrain? Can you slow your fall to lessen the impact? How can you limit injuries and damage?
In my case the landscape below was cement. I wanted to save my delicious double Mediachino Grantourissimo Vanillamente Latte. That's not just because I’m cheap—although I am—but to avoid the embarrassment of going back for a replacement and having the Barista ask me why the blood-covered clothes and latte-smeared face.
Adding to my landing challenge this day, the curb I’d tripped over was bracketed by two cars—limiting my maneuverability. My best hope? Thrust my hands outward, trying to use the sides of the cars to slow my descent and still save my drink.
It worked, sorta. Nothing was broken, a few scrapes on elbow and knee. But more than two-thirds of my Mediachino Grantourissimo Vanillamente Latte Latte was still available, more if I was willing to try licking it from the side of a Buick.
Upon landing, determined I’d survived and looked around. To my dismay I discovered a number of people had witnessed my trip, stumble and fall. Sadly, they did not ignore me, and before I could escape, raced to my side to make sure that I was okay.
Just when you need a bad citizen, there’s none to be found. No, these people could not have been more concerned. Could not have been nicer. Could not have been more of a pain in the ass. If I had an invisibility button, I’d have pressed it.
Look, I’m old. I got bum wheels. I'd just fallen and felt foolish and old and pathetic. Age ravishes our bodies, but fails to convince our minds and our egos to accept this inevitable decline.
So we end up complaining about admirable behavior. Their concerns were genuine, but it felt like they were pointing a spotlight at an old man covered with frothed milk and chagrin while they shouted, “Old Fart just fell down, went boom. Take a look.”
So, what should I do about this? Damned if I know. I could stop buying Lattes, I suppose. Stop grandkids from visiting is obviously off the table. Learning to deal with reality would be nice, if there were even a chance in hell I ever would.
I’m open to suggestions, secretly thankful to the good citizens who cared, and now I have to draft a letter of apology to my doctor for failing to follow his orders.
Photo from Ronnie Day flickr photostream. Some rights reserved. Original image can be found here.
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