As if the mirror on the bathroom wall doesn’t tell me often enough that I’m aging, there are occasional falls and trips and pains to drive home the fact that I’m not twenty-two anymore. Perhaps I’m not the only senior who still feels like a little girl, that I can run fast, jump easily over logs or even move the log out of the way, and never get tired. Perhaps I’m not the only one who is shocked to learn the truth. I’ve survived almost sixty-six years, six decades of bumps and jolts and accidents. But I’ve always survived so there should be no reason to expect that anything could bring me down. More and more the reality of my age and how frail a human body can be has been shoved in my face. I’m not just a klutz now. I’m maybe, even perhaps, falling apart. Like an old car, one thing after another is breaking down. Yet each item of my body that breaks is a surprise to me, because in my mind I’m still twenty-two, right?
This past week I’ve moved furniture, slowly and carefully but all the while patting myself on my strong back. I am woman. I am invincible. Yesterday was trash day and the County’s big brown Rubbermaid trash can was filled to the brim with items from my house that are no longer necessary. Each time I threw a useless book or knick knack in the trash I felt unburdened from more of the meaningless debris of life. The trash can had to be rolled about one hundred feet up the driveway to the edge of the road, the useless junk soon to be dumped in a huge hole at the dump and covered with dirt, forgotten until eons later when perhaps archeologists uncover our treasures. I slowly tipped the heavy can, finding the sweet spot where the weight would be distributed over the wheels, thus making it easy for me to drag it. Yet even thus tipped, the trash can was somewhat dangerous. One wrong move would cause the whole thing to collapse on the ground. I felt my back groan as I carefully dragged the can that weighed perhaps thirty to forty pounds, and finally set it up for the garbage man. Good exercise, I thought to myself.
The dogs waited in the back yard for me to walk and train them and were barking with anticipation. As I walked back into the garage I saw a loaded plastic bin filled with more items, but this time headed to Goodwill. Still feeling invincible I opened the van door, grabbed the heavy bin and lifted it into the van. I am woman. Hear my back scream. Pop, crack, pop and I slowly let myself fall to the floor. My poor six decade old back had had enough of my hubris.
Falls are not new to me. I know the drill, to remain calm, don’t scream, the garage door was closed and I’m far enough from the road that no one can hear me anyhow. I got up, shaking and sore, my heart was racing and I was going into shock. But I let the dogs inside first.
There is humor in everything. With my blood pressure racing and my body burning with the sudden heat, I started stripping. I threw off my heavy coat, my fleece zippered jacket and started to even rip off my shirt. Wait. What in case the paramedics had to come inside? Better keep something on.
Decisions, decisions. Call 911, call the neighbors, email a friend. My body was going into deeper shock, as it had every other time I’d had a fall or emergency. Waves of nausea rolled over me. The three dogs and I went into the bathroom. They didn’t know what game I was playing but they were following me every step of the way. As I said a, “Stay calm”, mantra over and over, I realized I needed to let someone know that I may need serious help. I emailed two friends, one in Michigan and one here in Pensacola. It wasn’t one of my more rational moments.
In times of pain I become my own worst enemy, hating my frailty, my stupidity, my age, old age, knowing I have tons of appointments, dog shows, trips and things to do. Thoughts of an ambulance ride and paramedics and the ER and doctors filled my mind. But I waited and waited, trying to decide what to do. Was I being a woos, making a big deal out of nothing? One hour passed and then two. I looked at the house and saw white fur stuck like velcro to the green family room rug from either the cat or my gold dog Bodie. I put the dogs in the sun room and vacuumed the house, just in case the paramedics had to enter. What does the 911 operator say in an emergency? Please put all animals in another room and unlock the door to let EMS have safe access. Funny thing is that if you can corral three dogs and carry a thirteen pound cat into the sun room and reach down to close crates you’re probably not dying enough to need EMS. I laughed through my nausea. Decision made. I’ll live to fight another day.
As time slowly dragged on I realized that this too shall pass. To be honest, all I wanted was a chocolate donut or two and a hot cup of coffee, diet be damned. Does Dunkin Donuts deliver? The front door was unlocked, the house clean and the animals sleeping.
Later the next day: Ever heard of crepitus? I’m off to the doctor’s office for an x-ray only, just in case. I know she will chew me out about lifting heavy things and doing things at “my age” that I shouldn’t. She doesn’t understand that I’m really twenty-two and a woman and invincible. Right? This too shall pass.