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©June 2003

Carol Jane Remsburg



Morning Wake Up Call






Workday mornings are always difficult, especially for those who aren't enraptured by their jobs.  Mondays are always the worst while Fridays are considered best if you work the normal weekday schedule.  Yours may vary, but you get the drift—whichever day is the last in your week you view it as the best day.  However this Friday morning past didn't turn out to be so "Friday-ish", as a matter of fact, it felt much more like a bad Monday bringing nasty little gifts.


The morning didn't begin so terribly, I woke up on time and arose not feeling quite dead, and even though the weekend forecast was again for dreary, rainy weather, I had plans to do things around the house.  I hit the showers and dressed in a hurry and then went up the stairs to awaken sleeping beauty who sleeps like Snow White did after eating the poisoned apple—only with less responsiveness.  We are talking about sleeping like the dead.  Since I'm not her Prince Charming, a sweet little peck won't wake her either.  Every morning often requires the same routine initially beginning with a gentle shake, a kiss on the cheek, and a request that she arise from the bed.  Normally several trips are required with each one becoming a bit louder and more forceful—oftentimes the removal of the covers and actually pulling her not just upright but actually out of the bed and walking her well AWAY from the bed so she can't sneak back into it. 


That was the way of it Friday morning—I pulled her out of the bed and sweetly asked her to hurry and dress.  Some mornings I swear a bucket of iced water tossed on her would work more quickly but I've not gotten just that desperate—yet.


Once I knew she was up and going to stay up I went back down the stairs to finish my makeup and do my hair.  I was still barefoot and am always careful about the stairs.  I've spent all of Erin's life worried about her and the stairs and a bad fall.  Being a total klutz and one my mother never stopped calling "Calamity Jane," I know well how accidents happen and try hard to avoid them.  The thousand or so times I've traversed up and down the stairs I've always kept that mental picture in my head about falling—DOWN the stairs.  Often I do trip going up the stairs and that's not so bad.  It's the slipping and tripping that accompanies going down the stairs that frightens me most. 


Keep in mind I can trip over almost anything and once broke my ankle simply stepping off a wheel-chair ramp.  A "klutz" I am and will always be and at this stage in my life I don't rebound quite so quickly.


What is all this leading up to?


Of course, I SLIPPED AND FELL DOWN THE STAIRS—every damned one of them landing in a heap at the bottom.  No surprise there at all, but it gets better.


As any one of us who has lived beyond the age of say 30, a nice age, wish I was that again, has encountered at least ONE event during their lives when something has happened that plays out in slow-motion and you don't know if it's your last moment on earth or if it's going to be something you'll rue the rest of your days or if it's going to hurt for a long time or just something that your family and friends will laugh at you for years on end over.  Most just wish they had a camcorder to catch you at it.  I threw ours out—just because.  Trust me, there is a reason for it.


Just about 10 years ago I broke my ankle and that particular day and all its associated memories in the aftermath will always be with me.  However Friday's little adventure, I'm happy to say won't stay forever.


When I turned away from Erin gauging her wakefulness to start down the steps my mind really wasn't on being careful, at least not in the forefront, it's always there just because the stairs are narrow and steep and there isn't a handhold in sight.  My mind was actually on remembering her lunch money and finishing up getting myself presentable while longing to enjoy my first cup of a coffee that was already growing cold.


There are 12 steps—when there should have been 13 or even 14, but contractors and home builders even back in the 40's didn't dare put 13 steps in a house.  It's just bad luck.  So rather than 14, they put 12 and on that top, carpeted step I slipped.  For about a 10th of a second I had no clue to what was happening, I wasn't even really awake yet.  However by the time my lower back hit the 4th stair down I was totally awake and trying like hell to put the brakes ON.  Yet when your feet are in the air all you have are your hands and there was simply nothing to grab onto.  I was blindly reaching out and one arm caught the textured wall which didn't stop me, it just created a lovely bruise and a good case of what would later look like 'road rash'.  I won't tell you what my lower back looks like right now—but I'll just bet you can guess.


I think if at that point I had simply slid down the stairs it would have been okay.  There is an old saying that "Bumbles Bounce" – (please credit "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" movie, but it is apt anyway).  And guess what?  I BOUNCED and bounced HARD each time until I hit the bottom.  I'm not sure but I think that was about 4 times—it could have been just 3, but 2 were all that was needed.


Once the earthquake in the house was over, for I'm very sure that's exactly what it sounded like, Erin never turned a hair, she wasn't awake.  On the other hand, my hubby did react.  He came arunnin' which is difficult for him with the arthritis and after the 'broken ankle' incident where he simply kept turning the chicken on the grill because he didn't want it to burn, probably knew that now since we are older if I lived, I would kill him if he didn't.


The wild ride down the steps over and Don hovering over me sprawled at the foot of the stairs asking me "what hurts," I had to gather my wits and attempt to take stock.  I didn't have that nauseated turn to my stomach nor the high buzz in my ears as shock settles in.  My arm burned and I knew I'd bruised that up pretty good, but I was more worried about my back.  I knew my tailbone was okay—having nearly cracked that decades before, but my back I wasn't really sure of and wouldn't know about until I tried to get up.  If I told you I wasn't scared at that moment, I would be lying.  I was simply numb at the moment.  I won't kid you that the numbness itself didn't scare me—it did.


Slowly I got up and walked away from hubby, and now scared child who finally came to see what all the noise was about, and into the kitchen to be alone so I could at least try to assess the damage.  Since I actually could get up I knew I hadn't done anything catastrophic—but there was a lingering doubt about if maybe I had damaged something that would later on haunt me. 


Oh, trust me, I hurt.  The numbness fell away after the initial 2 minutes—much like a warning bell.  I felt just like someone was going for a homerun with a St. Louis slugger and had belted me in the lower back.  I "slugged" down some ibuprofen and moaned and groaned my way to work.  Hubby's last advice was to "keep it moving."  What a joke THAT is, I'm chained to a headset all day—mobility isn't in my job description but boy, the 'bathroom breaks" I took that day had to top the charts.  I moaned, groaned, and tried really hard to keep a 'smile' pasted in my voice.  Everyone at work got a good laugh at my fall because I made a joke out of it.  Fear will do that to you.  If it's a joke, maybe it won't be so bad.


By the end of the day, I still hurt but not as poorly as I thought I would—and with rain coming I hopped on the mower and cut the grass after work.  It was a chore that just had to be done.  I won't kid you that it didn't hurt—that hour and a half astride that vibrating mower didn't help one bit.  It took me a few minutes just to manage to get off the damned thing.


Saturday, was a bit tougher but I had the bills to pay, straightening to do, and lots of laundry.  Knowing hubby was right, I kept on the move as much as possible but I kept it easy.  I actually thought I'd been spared and let off lightly—then I woke up this morning at 7 AM.  I would have been happier had I been paralyzed, okay, for maybe about ten minutes I would have been but—Oh GOD, I had to have help getting out of bed.  It wasn't just the embarrassment; it was the pain.  It was gigantic.  I felt like I'd been broken in half.  A scalding hot shower didn't help and it seemed the ibuprofen didn't either.  At least the rain stopped and I went walking around and around the yard trying desperately to loosen my wounded, bruised muscles and other assorted fatty tissues.  The view must have been pleasant, I walked like I was barefoot on broken glass.  But HEY, I was MOVING! 


By 2 PM I knew that I would live, but I'm actually grateful that it was a weekend when the real pain hit.  I couldn't have stayed at my desk at all today. 


I won't kid you either that it's over yet.  Age is a great humbler.  Had I done this in my teens or twenties or even thirties, I wouldn't hurt so badly.  For those beyond my age, a bad fall, and it was one, can take months and years to heal if at all.


So, the next time you blithely traipse down a long, steep, carpeted stairway—pay attention.  This won't kill me, but it'll hurt for the better part of a month and you don't have to be a "klutz" to have it happen to you.  Me?  I'm damned lucky I didn't break my back or my tailbone or something.


Bad things happen all the time—if you are in NO pain, feel blessed.


This is just a public service reminder from someone like "your mother."—Be careful out there folks!


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