Friday, March 14, 2014


I slipped on the ice last Saturday.  I'd walked a mile to the library and then back, and just before I got to my house I found myself flat on my back on the sheet of ice that's been my street lately.

I wasn't even sure I could get up.  But without too much pain, I managed it, and walked home, put ice on my back, and waited to see how bad it would be.  I could walk and do lots of things, though it hurt, sometimes really bad.  Getting into bed was torture.  I had to bend the wrong angle and my lower left back screamed.  Finding a prone position that didn't hurt took a while.  Did I break a rib, just bruise it, or was it just sore muscle?  Could I make things worse if I did the wrong thing?  Some over-the-counter pain pills, ice, and I finally managed to find a position that wasn't more than a minor irritation and slept the night.

I figured it wasn't too serious because the next day I could walk and bend a little with bearable pain.  But certain moves set of ied's.  I started being very careful about reaching, leaning, bending, all the normal things you do a million times each day without thinking.  Now I had to think about each one.

It was during this time I saw this poster Guadalupe put up on Facebook.

I'd already started noticing other people who walked tenderly and had much more compassion for them than I had before.  I had an invisible pain.  I didn't look any different than before I slipped, but I sure moved more gingerly. 

Good health is so random.  Sure, you can eat well and exercise, but a tree falls, a car veers your way, or, in Vic Fischer's case recently, a camel hears a motorcycle backfire and kicks out just as you're walking by.  (He was in Rajasthan, India at the time.)   Sure, I read and link to Peter's incredible Parkinson's blog, and I see how valiantly he lives his life.  And then I forget again how lucky I am.

It takes a fall like this to remind me to be more aware of others' afflictions.  If they act a little weird, maybe they're in serious pain.  And even those people who match the definition of a 'jerk' probably have a history and/or a condition that would help us understand their behavior.  (Understand isn't the same as approve.)

I did get to the doctor by Wednesday, had an x-ray, and learned I hadn't broken anything. 
Just  some very angry muscle.  I'm clearly moving back to normal.  But I hope I won't forget to stay sensitive to others who might be living their lives with a serious pain or other affliction battling them every step of the way.

The x-ray room had this miniature skeleton and I've added a little graphic to indicate the hot spot.

When people lived in small communities and knew everyone over a lifetime, they tended to know who had what ailments and accommodated (or persecuted) them.  In our more anonymous worlds, we don't know the people we interact with, and don't understand who they are and how they got that way.  And how quickly one's life can change from one condition to another. 


  1. Ah, do I ever sympathize with your situation! And it's true, you can't always tell if the people you meet going to the grocery store, picking up the mail, are chronically ill or disabled.

    In April 2012 I was just STANDING at the kitchen sink, and my right ankle (injured many years ago taking a bad step off my porch) suddenly gave way turning my foot completely on its side. That didn't hurt at the time, but when the rest of my body shifted sideways to the right, my left knee didn't move with it -- the tendons around my patella and inside of my knee joint wrenched, and boy, did THAT ever hurt!

    A month or so later, my left knee still hurt, and I realized my gait had completely altered, badly, to compensate for both injuries. I was in the process of caring for my terminally ill husband at the time, so I wasn't able to see to my own health care until after his death in October that year.

    Here it is 2 years after the injury, and even after 6 weeks of PT and a year of warm-water-pool walking therapy, I'm still tender-kneed and stiff-ankled. To top it off, I've dealt all my life with scoliosis, and in the last month of my husband's life I wrenched my back trying to get him up off the floor. That's still a problem.

    I sometimes wonder if I'll ever walk normally or without pain again. Sigh. Thanks for letting me vent.

  2. To both of you, please find an excellent pt morning, in 2006, I woke up unable to step on one foot. It was swollen and painful. The podiatrist thought I'd given myself a stress fracture and had me wear a boot for 6 weeks even though nothing on the xray. That didn't work. I asked for pt. He said no, let me try something else. So we tried something else for a week which didn't work. Again, I asked for PT again he said let me try something else for a week; we tried again, it didn't work. Finally, I got mad and said can we try physical therapy? He said "okay but I don't think it's going to work!" I had one visit with this physical therapist with two exercises, the next morning I woke up my foot wasn't swollen, and I had no pain. The reason was because the problem was in my back not in my foot!

    My CPA after a near death bike accident/2 neck surgeries and rehab, my dad & mom have both gone to him --I recommend him to everyone within 20 miles. He's that good.

  3. Kajo and nswfm - your comments and the many hits this post got remind me how much pain is a regular part of so many people's lives. And the pain works to deter one from activities that would keep one fit. It's a vicious cycle.


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