Yes, I’ve had knee surgery – to repair torn menisci and my bursitis was acting up. Going down stairs has been more difficult than going up stairs. So, as I stood at the top of the tile steps, the kind with the metal strip on the edge (to keep you from slipping), I looked over at the elevator. There were about six people waiting to get into the rather small conveyance, so I decided I could make it on the stairs.
In accordance with my training, bad foot went down. I held on to the handrail. Then I started to put my good foot down, and also to change my handhold. Maybe I caught my heel. I really can’t remember. But all of a sudden, I realized I was launched into the air toward the middle of the empty staircase. I desperately tried to catch myself, but my feet only landed on the edges of the steps as I tumbled forward, gaining momentum. My only conscious thought was, “Oh dear, here I go again!” I knew this wasn’t going to end well.
And yes, I’ve done this before – with a suitcase in the London Underground. On that unfortunate occasion I somersaulted over the suitcase and landed on my back on the landing. Those were cement stairs with metal strips embedded in the cement. HARD! SHARP! I knew I wouldn’t survive if I tensed up, so I tried to make like a rag doll. I think it helped.
This time, I didn’t have a suitcase. I’m not sure what happened to my coat, books and handbag. They ended up on the landing with me, but unfortunately not under me. As I landed on the stairs, I felt my shoulder hitting the last three or four, then my the top left side of my head went THUD on the landing and at last I was still and on solid ground – well the landing at least. I had descended the 10 steps significantly more quickly than if I had walked!
You know the cartoon drawings where the unfortunate character gets hit in the head and the circles and stars go round and round. Well, that is pretty accurate. I had to lie still for a few seconds just to get through being stunned.
Immediately, a man rushed up the lower flight of stairs asking if I was all right and if I had been unconscious. I indicated “No” I hadn’t been unconscious. I was still trying to assess the state of my head, which had hit pretty hard. I may end up later in life with signs of traumatic brain injury! But for now, at least, I was thankful that I have a really hard head.
Suddenly another man was at my side, Dr. Kim. He is a Korean doctor who is known all over Knoxville for having set up a health clinic for the working poor. He also asked if I had been unconscious, and having determined I hadn’t been, they asked if I was hurt anywhere else. I ascertained that nothing was broken – another amazing fact. They helped me sit up and then to stand up. When I finally was on my feet I could see the face of the first man, so I said, “Hello!” They both helped me down the remaining steps, carrying my various items of clothing and books.
For some years now, I have bemoaned my large bone structure. Sometimes I feel like the Jolly Green Giant next to my very petite friends. I have the shoulders of a football player and very large, and apparently strong bones. For the first time in a long while, I was grateful for that.
They asked if someone was with me. I hesitantly said, “Yes”. Ben was waiting for me in the sanctuary, because all of this happened in church. I managed to walk down the hall and into the service, though my head was still swimming a bit and my eyes didn’t seem to focus quite right. However, after the service I felt well enough to drive home.
I took the rest of the day very easy with lots of ice bags and Ibuprofen. The bruising started to come out, but by Monday, I still didn’t have a black eye in spite of the bump on my head. After taking Ben to school and doing the grocery shopping, I called my chiropractor and got an appointment for later in the morning.
Dr. Chris, my chiropractor, as well as most of the staff were amazed that not more of me was injured. X-rays were taken, but nothing was broken. After unjamming my neck, I can turn my head more normally now. I have three huge bruises and the bump on my head, but not even any broken skin! Someone was protecting me, and I certainly am glad about that! Ben is too!
These events happened about a week ago, so I’ve had time to reflect on lessons learned. First, when I have problems with my knee, take the elevator. Failing that option, go down the carpeted stairs. Second, explore the fashion options of bubble wrap. Third, remember that I’m a good Presbyterian and say, “I’m glad that’s over!”
(In case you don’t understand that last comment, Presbyterians believe in predestination. Many assume that is a fatalistic view of life, and that all things are predestined.)