Toddlers fall. Drunk people fall. Even temperatures fall. But when you as a functioning, sober being with a sociably acceptable level of agility fall down, it’s an event. Forget the humiliation, its dealing with the damage as you age that makes the blow harder. We walk around with a false sense of confidence thinking we figured out life, and all it takes is one losing battle with gravity to realise that we are just bags of bones with occasionally malfunctioning brains.
As we age, we learn how to do more and more things in auto pilot mode. We drift off mentally when we drive, we have conversations with people in our head while we do chores, and we certainly don’t spend every step we take assessing distance, quantum mechanics and Newton’s 3 laws of motion. But just when you think you have mastered something to perfection, gravity gives you a rude awakening, reminding you that lulled brains can lead to bruised knees, elbows and egos.
I’m a 40 year old mama. I think by now I’ve experienced enough in the way of accidents, with a wide range consisting of car bumps and getting peed on. But taking a serious fall in the middle of the day, on a very crowded street in town, certainly threw me a curveball. After falling as elegantly as a drunk and dyslexic swan could possibly hope to, my first thought was literally “What? Is my body still doing these?!”
People gaped, no one helped (lucky me) and to save face, I tried to clamour up as quickly as possible. But of course, I’m injured, so I looked like I was auditioning for one of the zombies on The Walking Dead. So I shot up as quickly as I could manage and began “walking” when a searing pain in my knee basically crippled me dead in my tracks. When you fall down, the adrenaline or shock or embarrassment basically hide the full extent of your injuries. So you get up thinking all is well and that you can resume your normal walking duties when your body lets out several screams and you have to CSI your own blood to the source of the injuries.
As the hours went on, the bruises revealed the anatomy of said fall. My knee had taken a good smashing and by nighttime looked about nine months pregnant. In addition to serious skin scrapes, my elbow and whole left side were badly bruised, making normal every day movement as challenging as Calculus.
Falling at 40 is not like falling at 4. It’s not only that you are carrying significantly more mass, it’s also that your body has been existing for much longer and has developed some wear and tear, with a much slower ability to recover. I remember my childhood was filled with spills and scraped knees, but I don’t recall missing any thrilling Duck-Duck-Goose games because I couldn’t bend a bruised knee anymore. It was a sad realisation knowing that my very young spirited brain now needed to recalibrate and align with its much more mature host.
The fall really made me realise how important it was to be in good physical standing, with my full spectrum of mobility available. Picking up my 13 kg toddler with only one good leg? Not fun. Trying to bend down to fetch the keys? As pleasant as a visit to the proctologist, with similar sound effects!
Unfortunately, these accidents are unavoidable. There is literally nothing you can do to stop such calamities other than hide in an idiot-proofed cave for the rest of your life. And even though it really hurts the bones and mind when gravity chooses you out of a whole street full of potential victims, the bright side is that you do get to appreciate what your body can do and make efforts to care for it better. Until the weekend comes. Then it’s just you versus your liver, but that’s another story.