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.