Falling into old age

I have several friends who have made reference to “being old” for what seems like years. When I’d hear them bemoaning that statement, I’d find myself thinking you’re the same age as me and I’m not old! Perhaps it’s because my Mom, who is 90, is old. My in-laws, who are 93 & 95, are old. I’m only 64 and I don’t want to belong to that category….yet!

After being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and dealing with months of debilitating pain, I have to admit that parts of my body don’t feel as young as they used to. My brain has taken a lot longer to accept the fact that I’m headed downhill in the great trek that is life. Nothing made it clearer than when I fell down the steps into my garage.

I don’t remember the circumstances that led to my fall. I wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary, nothing strenuous, nor was I carrying anything bulky or awkward. I wasn’t in a hurry. I just missed the first step. The surprise of the unfamiliar distance going down threw me off balance and down I went.

It really was a slow motion type experience. Trying to stop myself was impossible and I was aware of each part of the sequence of the fall. I felt my right shoulder slam into my car, my face careened off the mirror, and then my right knee, my right hip, my right elbow, and my right shoulder bounced on the cement floor. Fortunately, my skull did not make contact with anything but the tire.

The garage door was open and I jumped up without even thinking about the damage I’d just inflicted on my body. I was horrified by the thought that someone had seen me fall, that someone had witnessed such a clumsy act. I hobbled into the house and sat down, truly shaken. It was only later that I realized having someone see me fall would be a good thing.

The next day, my whole body hurt and I was sporting more than one purple bruise. Had my car not been in the garage to break my fall, I have no doubts that my injuries would have been more severe. I realized that, had I truly been hurt, I could have laid there for more than a day because nobody was home but me. Adding in the fact that it is winter and my garage is unheated, the consequences could have been deadly.

I’m pretty sure that I will never again laugh at the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” cartoons. In America, falls are the leading cause of injury related death in adults age 65 and older, a fact that hit home when my father fell and died from a resulting brain bleed three and a half years ago.

I’ve fallen into old age and I’ve arrived with a grateful heart. I’ve decided to accept the aches and pains, the wrinkles and grey hair, as signs of a life lived well, a life lived just a few steps beyond normal.

4 thoughts on “Falling into old age

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