It was 1989 when the infamous television commercial first introduced many of us to that famous line, “I’ve fallen…. and I can’t get up!” The line found itself even becoming a part of pop culture and was often used in some comical context, even commercially. And yes, even I have surely poked my share of fun at the line in my younger days. Why even “Wikipedia” found it a worthy entrant to its hall of information (see here).
But now as I reach the ripe old age of seventy what was once a source of humor has now become a very serious source of concern. To borrow from yet another old adage, “The shoe is now on the other foot!”
It was around five years ago or so when I actually took my first elderly fall. I was coming down a hidden staircase in my home’s hallway and was about three steps from the bottom when I fell straight backwards seemingly for no reason at all. I landed on my back and was not injured at all but laid there for a brief time on the floor completely puzzled at what had just happened.
Some two years later I was fixing to head out to do a little shopping and as I was opening the door to leave I noticed one of my shoe laces was loose. There was a small table nearby so rather than stoop down and tie the lace I walked over to the table, heisted my foot up onto the table and re-tied my shoe – something I have done a hundred times in the course of my lifetime. As I moved my foot from the table toward the floor I just simply fell right over backwards yet again, coming within inches of my head hitting the corner of the door facing. Again I wasn’t hurt in the least but seeing the corner of that door facing only inches from my head put a bit of a scare in me and I began to realize that there was an issue here that I may have to deal with although I had not a clue as to what that meant.
Then this past week I had yet my third fall but this time I received a few scrapes and bruises but again escaped any serious consequences. But this time after surveying the scene of the fall I realized that I had come within a step of suffering some very serious, if not life threatening, consequences.
I had gotten up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, not unlike any other night for who knows how long. As I stood up at the edge of my bed, I turned to my left and began to walk toward the table lamp sitting on my bedroom dresser to turn it on. And a millisecond later I felt the right side of my body crashing into a chair that sat directly across from my bed. Unlike the two previous falls I was feeling some minor pain but remained dumbfounded as to what had just happened. When I finally seem to regain my facilities, I struggled to my feet and got to the lamp and turned the light on.
One is certainly going to be inclined to put a lot of the blame for this particular fall on me for not having a more immediate access to a light or even a night-light. And I would not argue the point in hindsight but…..this is how I have been living my life for years upon years. I have always kept my bedroom as dark as possible while I was sleeping. I have always been able to navigate my dark bedroom. But…. apparently “always” is not “forever”!
Here is a photo showing where I fell, mostly on the chair and partly on the arm of the chair. I scrapped my right forearm up pretty bad from the chair arm circled in the photo. I also have a large bruise on my upper right leg where it landed on the edge of the chair seat which is also circled.
But here is what scared me about the fall. Although as previously noted there were no serious consequences to my fall, it is the photo below showing where I would have landed had I managed just one more step forward that send forth a major wakeup call into my little brain. Had I hit and/or landed on that antique ceramic umbrella stand with all those exposed ceramic flower petals and blooms, I think we would have been talking serious consequences – consequences enhanced by the fact that I live alone.
Since this last event I have done some serious soul searching with regard to my obvious nonchalant attitude regarding my previous two falls. I have come to the stark realization that neither I nor the love for my independence can co-exist with such a callous disregard of consequences.
Ronni Bennett, who has the blog “Time Goes By”, wrote a couple of posts this past August addressing many of the statistics, issues, causes, and preventions regarding the proneness of the elderly to falling. Links to her blog posts which are quite informative with regard to the issue are below….
I suppose coming to our senses over this issue is somewhat like coming to our senses as when we were growing up. Mom and dad could always warn us of certain consequences for certain actions or in certain situations but we were always smarter than they were – thinking such things could never happen to us. I find the “falling” issue is quite similar in playing with human nature….
PS – I have taken what I consider appropriate action to resolve the night time bathroom issue in my dark bedroom. I purchased a clip-on light and an extension cord with a switch on the end so that I could have the light switch right by my pillow – not even having to raise up in the bed before turning on a light.