I fell on Friday. It was not my 1st fall since February, but it was the worst fall since the beginning of my journey with ACA. It was also a needed reminder of where I really am in my recovery, which I now know, due to this fall, needs to reassessed on a daily basis. I know this sounds like a negative, like a setback, but it is exactly the opposite. It made me realize how far I’ve come. Here’s how the fall went down:
I was moving around the kitchen and had to use the restroom for a #1. I mosied that direction, and parked my walker in the hallway intersection, about 3 feet from the door to the bathroom, and walked, without my walker, to the toilet and handled business. As i flushed, I started to make the move to the sink, which was literally 2 steps to my left, but my right foot didn’t lift high enough to clear the bathroom rug in front of the sink, and I started leaning toward, then falling toward, the countertop/sink at a very quick pace. My brain still reacts, but my body is so slow to respond that I ended up propped up with my forearms, on the front edge of the counter, slowly sliding lower and lower, running out of forearm to rest on. I knew I was going down, so as a last ditch effort, I pushed back against the counter, hoping I could stand upward and recover. I did just that, but I had pushed so hard that I literally threw myself into the door behind me. Nobody was home, so I had left the door open, the doorknob resting against the wall, and when I hit it, it hit back, launching me sideways into the hallway. I was heading to the floor, and there was nothing I could do to break the upcoming impact except brace myself and hope for the best. Unfortunately, the dog’s water bowl, full of water, was the first thing I landed on. By this point I was parallel with the floor and the left side of my back and rib cage hit the bowl, flipping it, and the water within, up into the air, as the rest of my body, from mid-back to shoulder, and possibly head, continued downward to the floor with an extraordinary thud. I remember hearing the last bit of breath leave my lungs, and it wasn’t at all like I thought it would sound. I anticipated a loud “F&$k!”, but instead I just grunted and expelled some breath. Less than impressive…
I never lost consciousness, but I didn’t jump right up either. I laid on the ground, trying to assess the actual damage before propping my back against the wall, stretching my legs out in front of me, and gathering my bearings. The first thing I noticed is I was covered in dog water/drool. The entire bowl upended and managed to cover my entire front side. This was manageable and the least of my worries, but there was also water all over the wood floor I was going to have to stand up on, which could be a problem. The second thing I noticed was Benny, “Man’s Best Friend”, couldn’t be bothered to remove himself from the couch to investigate the ruckus and check on his old man. One day I’ll have to address this with him. I felt ok, just shaken a bit. I checked my face and skull for blood and/or bumps, and found nothing out of the ordinary. I decided I better work on getting up, which was a whole new adventure.
When you’re a 225 pound with arthritis and a fake knee, you don’t spend a lot of time on the ground because, well….
Add to that the ACA, and I started mentally preparing for the obstacle course on “Battle of the Network Stars.” I decided that, despite the fact that my walker was only a foot away, I would be better using something solid and bolted down to lift myself up, and doing this on a dry surface would be optimal, so I crawled into the bathroom. As I mentioned above, I don’t spend much time on the floor, and I haven’t crawled anywhere since my overly-drunk days a decade ago. I’m learning how to walk again, and I suck at that, so having to crawl was a real genuine adventure, and it probably looked like exactly what you’re picturing in your head, but much worse. Unstable, shaky, sloppy….all of that. Once I made it to the space between the toilet and sink, I used those items to get back upright, finally washed my hands, made my way to the walker, and back to home base, the couch.
At this point I felt better. I felt so good I started laughing to myself about what had just happened. After some lol’s, I texted Meghan, told her what had happened, reassured her I was ok, and sat back and relaxed. After dinner, I was shot, so off to bed I went. I did NOT sleep well. I fell asleep fine, but within a few hours, I woke up. In pain. Not screaming/crying/cursing pain, but immense discomfort. It was centralized in my left shoulder, the last body part to make impact. I looked at the clock and it read 3:00. At 3:30 I was downstairs, once again on the couch, drinking coffee.
Later that day, Saturday, my (step) daughter, Kellyn, texted me to ask about my fall, which Meghan had told her about earlier that morning as they socialized at an R+F meeting in Appleton. I told her about my shoulder, and also the fact that I was afraid to, and unable to, check for bruising and/or swelling. When Meghan came home, she told me Kellyn had told her she needed to check me for those items, and she found them. The dog dish had left a splotchy red bruise on the backside of my rib cage/back,and just below my left shoulder was another similar bruise. No excessive swelling, but my actual shoulder hurt like hell.
My (step) son, Dylan, had a CYM basketball game at 5PM, and I was committed to going, so I changed clothes and we made our way to the gym. I needed that break, the change in scenery, the action, the socializing, the noise…all of it. It was only an hour or so, but it was a distraction from the increasing discomfort. The good guys won too. Once back home, once again well-fed, it was bedtime. Once again I didn’t sleep well, and Sunday was a bust. We had planned on going to the 10:30 service at our local fun-church, but when Meghan texted me about it at 9, I was a hard NO. I was so incredibly uncomfortable, my tremors were insane and focused around, and in, my left shoulder and neck area. It was 9 AM and the tremors were already worse than they normally are after a full (normal) day. We had also planned on hitting the grocery store after service, a trip I was really looking forward to, but Meghan, as usual, did it all on her own. I didn’t let the pain completely ruin my day, though it could have gone either way.
I decided a while back that I was not going to take Ibuprofen anymore. I went gluten-free to help heal up a leaky-gut, often referred to as a possible cause in us folks with autoimmune problems. Ibuprofen is a contributor to that syndrome, and after 20+ years of consistent, heavy use for Psoriatic Arthritis, an autoimmune condition, I need to try everything to reduce the constant inflammation caused by my immune system. As much pain as I was in yesterday, I decided I would take some Tylenol to help relieve the pain, and maybe, hopefully the tremors as well. I searched all over, including a trip upstairs and back down, before realizing we didn’t have any. I finally took one pain killer, a very low dose Acetaminophen combo, and rode my new exercise bike while watching the Panthers/Saints game (Sorry Shawn!) .
It didn’t offer a lot of help, but the bike ride did. It was only 16 minutes, but once again, a distraction. The bike is going to save me. It offers a range of motion that is new and refreshing, and healthy too! It offers a ready-at-all-times distraction to get me moving and out of my own skull, and it’s proximity to an outside window lets me imagine I’m outside, or at least looking at something different and brighter. I hit the sack at 9:00 ish and I woke up a couple of times before eventually making my way downstairs early this morning. The pain and discomfort have mellowed and I’m confident I’m going to live.
After all of this, I’m reminded of where I am, and more aware of why this happened. I was doing things in the kitchen on my own when the tinkle called, leading to this fall. It wasn’t long ago that I never left the couch for anything except bathroom breaks. I got up off of the ground, AND realized I’m capable of crawling as well as (sort of) walking. I certainly wouldn’t have scoured the house for Tylenol even 2 weeks ago, and I wouldn’t have found the energy and mental effort it took to ride the bike last night. I know I’m improving and recovering which encourages me to push my limits. This fall just made me realize I have very real limits and I can’t always push them. I need to slow down and appreciate how far I’ve come to this point, then envision my next steps before taking them. My life is different now, but it is, and always will be, amazing. Everyday I can do more, and everyday I want to do more, but every now and again, I just need to do nothing and rest.