Have you ever taken a fall that changed your life? I have. During my childhood, of course, I fell off my bicycle (yes, I was riding a girl’s bike, and yes, I fell on my private parts), off the monkey bars on the school playground (that one resulted in a chipped front tooth), off tree limbs and being pushed off the raft at the lake by some bully or another. (What they didn’t know is that I had been through lifeguard training and I could whip their butts if I really wanted to).
I have always been in a hurry. I was never sure why, but I had to be the first to get to an event to help get things set up, the first to turn in a term paper, the first to volunteer for duties at my children’s school, such as being room mother and offering to chaperone trips, writing my books, buying old kitchen items that no one was collecting yet (that made me a bit of money) and every other aspect of my life. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been advised to slow down, to no avail.
I was always excited about some new project or other. I had bouts of depression that would last for several days or a month. I did go to the doctor but this was in the 70’s and he prescribed me Valium, which I took for a while, but I was too tired all the time and had children to take care of and a job I loved.
I had the normal falls and scrapes as I walked through my childhood years and a few throughout my next forty years or so. I fell a few times in Mexico because the sidewalks are so uneven and if you aren’t paying close attention, down you go.
Three years ago while returning from a Christmas Fiesta (on the island where we all hung out during the hottest days of the winter) I jumped off the boat taxi to help Ralph get down. I realized someone else was assisting him so I left to get us a seat on the few benches while we waited for a pulmonia to hire to take us home. Of course, we had had a few Margaritas, along with the best food and dancing you could imagine. At any rate, one minute I was standing up and the next moment I had fallen on my head. I was so embarrassed. All our friends were running to see if I was all right. I had fallen from my feet to my head (don’t know how I did that, but I did), a knot was beginning to form and there was blood – eek!
Friends walked me over to the benches while I kept saying, “I’m all right.” It was suggested that I needed to go to the Red Cross and be checked over but I declined. Instead, we went home in an Arriga (a red truck), Ralph helped me in the house, and I decided nothing was wrong. Of course, I wouldn’t allow myself to fall asleep just in case, and took no pain pills even though my head was throbbing. The next morning I was happy to be alive, even though my eye was black and blue, and I had spent the entire night thinking I was going to die all alone in the dark living room while hubby slept!
Lucky for me it wasn’t serious. I did go to the doctor the next day but he wasn’t too concerned and explained that I’d probably had a slight concussion. So, I continued along my frantic path. I had what I thought was a Type “A” personality and didn’t think a bump on the head would change that.
As most of you know, two years ago I had another concussion. Hubby and I had gone to pick up my new glasses. We took the bus as far as we could, picked up the glasses, and had to make our way across a very busy street with crazy drivers. Ralph wasn’t feeling too well that day. Of course, I was ahead of him (clearing a path, ha ha) and when I looked back to see if he was all right my toe caught the edge of a piece of sidewalk and down I went. From feet to toes, exactly the same way it had happened the year before.
All I could think as I fell was “I can’t pass out, Ralph doesn’t speak Spanish.” And then I passed out. Two kind Mexican ladies came running and Ralph and the two women helped me get up. The ladies said “Es muy mal, yo necessito un doctor.” (It’s very bad, you need a doctor). Ralph looked concerned too. I shrugged it off and refused, saying I was fine. Ralph extricated my clip-on sunglasses that were embedded right above my right eye and I confess, the blood was pouring at a pretty good rate. Ralph insisted I go to the Red Cross, the ladies hailed an ambulance, and off we went. A very kind nurse stitched up my head, I saw a doctor who must have been all of 16 who told me to rest, paid my $6 and left, with instructions to return in seven days to have the stitches removed.
This happened on a Friday. When I tried to go to sleep that night everything spun around and I couldn’t get my bearings. No matter how I tried to position myself, the bed spun round and round, like a merry-go-round. I was afraid to lift my head at all. After an insane night, at 4:00 a.m. I called my good friend who is a nurse and she came over to take my vitals, assure me my blood pressure was all right, and made me promise to go to the doctor on Monday.
On Monday I was still extremely dizzy, so we hailed a taxi and went to the doctor’s office. His first words were “What a terrible job of stitching – you’ll have a big scar there.” I told him I didn’t care about the scar, just how I was feeling. He explained that I had “shaken brain syndrome” from hitting my head so hard on the concrete. He gave me something for the dizziness and pain and sent me home to rest. Friends and well wishers came to be with me and it helped me take my mind off the way I was feeling. My face didn’t look so good, but I knew it would go away.
If you’d like to know more about symptoms and treatment of concussions, here’s the Mayo Clinic Link.
Here ends part one of my (“Fear of Falling”) post. Stay tuned for the rest of the story in my next blog post.
Have you ever taken a bad spill? Did it change your life? I’d like to know!
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