Last Friday, I fell while getting out of the shower, hit the hard tile floor with enough force to cause a seismic reaction, and damaged my ego and my well-worn body in less than two seconds. I hollered from the pain. The scene duplicated the well-known commercial of the woman who has fallen and can’t get up, except I didn’t have a camera crew to rescue me. I was alone, couldn’t reach my cell phone, and my husband was out of town on business and wouldn’t be home for eight hours. So, I laid on the floor, naked, wet, and shivering in agony, and thought of what I should do.
My first reaction was to assess the damage. When I moved, sharp pain tore through my left hip, rolled like hot barbed wire down my leg, and exploded through my knee like dancing devils – the same knee that endured surgery six years ago. My second reaction was to curse my foolishness. We had sold our house, and I had spent a month moving boxes, carrying items from upstairs in the former house, and loading and unloading heavy, bulky stuff. My legs were weak, but on Friday I was in a hurry to deliver the keys and garage door openers to the new owners. I dashed out of the shower and into a painful change of plans.
For the next thirty minutes on the floor, my mind wandered to various topics.
I don’t fear death. I subscribe to the Death with Dignity organization in Oregon. I witnessed the painful deaths of my family members who suffered from long illnesses, dementia, and cancer. If I can’t remember my children’s names or if I’m diagnosed with a fatal illness, I’m not opposed to having a party and a pill. However, I hope to die like my Grandma Ambrose. She was 92 and sitting in her favorite chair working a crossword puzzle when she passed from a sudden heart attack. That scenario contains more dignity than dying naked and alone on the bathroom floor of a rented house.
I’m grateful for a splendid life with only a few broken bones and jagged daggers in my back. I’ve lived more years than my father and both brothers. Letters on my license plate are an abbreviation of “Carpe Diem” for “Seize the Day.” I’m still seizing, although a bit slower.
If I didn’t own so much crap, I wouldn’t need to move it, and it wouldn’t hurt my legs and back. The rental house we moved into is 60% smaller than the house we sold, so I donated furniture and other items, gave away family possessions, put furniture on consignment, and hauled countless bags of garbage to the dump. Still, I’ve filled a double garage with stuff. As I laid on the floor, I vowed, if I survived, to continue the purge.
I was helpless, and I didn’t like that reality. There’s something humbling about being a chubby, naked, older, injured woman alone on the floor. It wasn’t my best look. So, while admitting I needed help, I opted for the only available choice: I prayed. I asked God to help me because I have faith in the power of prayer. I knew my guardian angels were weary and wanted to fly away to live on a tropical island, but I asked for them to give me strength. Slowly, I managed to sit up. I couldn’t move on the left side, but I could scoot on my right hip and pull myself with my arms. I moved into the closet to find clothes. It took an hour to get dressed, but I felt like an Olympic champion.
I pulled myself to the counter and used a clothes hanger to reach my cell phone to call 911. I wanted to make it easy for paramedics, so I scooted to the front door and unlocked it. I held my purse with my driver’s license and medical cards and waited on the floor. The ambulance arrived and the paramedics examined my leg. After a lengthy evaluation, I decided to stay home. Waiting for hours in an emergency room on a Friday was not an attractive option. They wheeled my office chair to the hallway, helped me sit, and drove away. In hindsight, I joked too much so they probably didn’t take me seriously.
Over the weekend, I remained in my office chair with an ice machine hooked to my knee and tried to get an appointment with my doctor. My husband made meals and cleaned the dishes, which was a great way to offset the pain. By Monday, the pain was stronger. I called and used my outside voice to demand to see my doctor. I drove myself to the appointment, struggled on crutches to get into the office, and received the first set of Xrays. My doctor arranged for an MRI, and the images revealed torn ligaments behind my knee, soft tissue injury in my leg, and damage to the gluteus medius muscle underneath my left buttock. The doctor said to rest for several weeks, ice the leg, and wait for the pending surgery (again) on my knee. I usually don’t follow orders, but I agreed.
We had scheduled a week’s vacation starting March 11 in Scottsdale, Arizona with my son, his wife, and their darling daughter. Plans included golfing, going to the Zoo, enjoying fine dining, and relaxing in the cocktail pool of the rented house. Now, they’ll have the house to themselves, and I’ll toast them from my office chair.
There are several lessons to be learned from this latest episode of my crazy life. Slow down. Focus on strength and good health. Eliminate clutter. Ask for help. Allow a cute guy to make dinner. And, pray. On a positive note, now I have time to finish my next humorous book for women. Ironically, it’s titled Midlife Reboot – Humorous Stories of Rest, Resilience, and Renewal.”