Falling from Grace: When Gravity wins


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.


The Medicine of Meat

When I was a kid, it was a very noble claim to aspire to be a doctor. After all, doctors were the healers of dreams, the saviors of lives and the experts of health. That was 30 something years ago. I don’t know what happened in the last 3 decades but apparently something changed allowing all kinds of idiots to become “healers” and embark on long fruitful careers of endangering lives, scribbling reckless prescriptions and becoming agents of a scary trend: the profitable business of health.

It’s very unfortunate but it seems that there are no more “good doctors”, rather very differing and subjective experiences. You walk into a clinic with a mild fever and suddenly you are prescribed antibiotics by the truck load for treating bubonic plague. You suffer from pain in your back and up jumps the man in white walking you through a surgery where they will implant metal rods into your spine because let’s face it, everything is solved with a metal rod up your… back. Your nose is running? Holy shit, it’s a sign that your brains are turning to liquid and unless you swallow 75 kinds of multicolored pills, you will surely turn into a zombie and be responsible for the destruction of humanity.

The pharmacy industry has made great strides in giving us wonder drugs, sure, but it has also intruded on a sacred trust that anyone should be able to have with ANY doctor. Technically, it is illegal and immoral for any doctor to push pills to honor any sort of agreement, but with the rate of over prescription seen with so many cases, one wonders if the clear cut line has not faded into an indistinct gray.

When you’re sick, it’s a shame to run into one of these representatives who have completely eliminated the “care’ from health care and replaced it with “business”. It’s a shame when instead of asking a few follow up questions, the person immediately scribbles drug notes, while avoiding eye contact, for all sorts of ailments you don’t suffer from. A while ago, I visited a doctor because I was suffering from a horrible cold. He examined me and said “I’ll take a swab of your throat but if it’s a virus, there’s no point in taking antibiotics. Just drink plenty of fluids and rest.” I was amazed and extremely saddened by the encounter. This great man should be the norm, not the exception!

We do have one weapon on our side though: easy access to knowledge thanks to the internet. And when I say knowledge, I don’t mean blogs, promoted websites, Wikipedia (http://www.bbc.com/news/health-27586356) or astrology consultants. I mean WebMD, NHS, and medical association sites. While it’s always a good thing to do some research on your own, bear in mind that no amount of reading will make you a doctor and you cannot diagnose that mole as cancerous because of an image you saw online. Resources are there to help, not diagnose.

The world has changed and so have doctors. It seems that nowadays just about any idiot can enter and pass med school. Maybe standards have gone down, maybe this is the price we are paying for having too many idiots in the world, maybe somebody fell asleep at the wrong place at the wrong time. Even though it’s sad that many healers have evolved into pill pushers and incompetent assholes that get to wear white lab coats, the good news is that when you do come across a horrible experience, it is well within your right to give this person a piece or two of your mind. By keeping silent, we are relegating ourselves to the shelf, like quiet pieces of meat in a factory. And whether I’m wearing a hospital gown or a skimpy dress, I am no piece of meat.

Get the nuggets out of my box

TV commercials; we all hate them, we are all forced to watch them sometimes. If you’re not quick enough to record a movie, you are stuck sitting through long minutes of asinine drivel about disgusting products you would never buy. At least, I’m referring to advertising here in the region. Yesterday I was unfortunate enough to have to watch a movie streamed live, and hence the clash with tortuous ads, 95% of which were trying to sell me fast food garbage.

The only time I’ll walk into a fast food mess is when I’m considerably inebriated, everything is spinning, and I feel the vomit churning in my tummy, wondering which exit route to take. That is the only time I will shove fast “food” down my throat, and clearly because by that point your body needs the insane amount of grease to reestablish your center of gravity.

It was really quite sad: out of 4 commercials, only one was nonfood related; it was about cleaning products and the script/acting/production were so bad I wanted to crawl into a corner and chew my own toes off one by one. The rest might as well have been advertisements for how to block your arteries quickly, or a vacation to the afterlife to meet your maker because surely regular consumption of this garbage would have you in a body bag in no time.

This was unbelievably frustrating. Why are there no ads for healthy food? Aren’t salads sexy enough? I would much rather watch a cabbage unfurl slowly than processed cheese ooze out of some deep fried crust of saw dust and rat droppings! And it’s not like we don’t have the products to advertise; the Abu Dhabi Farmer’s Market has really taken off and they have been producing great local produce. Ripe Markets in the UAE are bringing excellent organic products, and there are many places that boast healthy menus. So why don’t these entities have a voice in the ad slots?

It’s 2015. The cat is out of the bag; fast food is unbelievably bad for you and obesity levels are rising alarmingly in the Middle East. How are these chains still thriving? Even in the US, the source of this fat mess, the tide has started to take a turn (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/mcdonalds-to-close-more-stores-than-it-opens-in-us-for-first-time-in-40-years-10333642.html). Why are we allowing a rejected trend from its point of origin to proliferate in our backyard? And it’s replacing a healthy and balanced cuisine! It should be a criminal offence to replace Tabbouleh and grilled meat for a big mac and fries.

I would really like to meet the person who is in charge of regulating ads in our region. I would like to strap him in a chair for a week, and each time a fast food ad came on, I would force him to eat that product in its entirety. It’s not fair that only the poisonous shit gets ample representation on the idiot box. In the interest of democracy, I’m not advocating the complete ban of fast crap (although that would be pure bliss). Rather, I would like to see some hot salads, blushing fruits and slutty greens parade on the screen as well. I believe it’s high time for equal representation; bring out those polygamous broccolis!

Smoke This!

Let’s face it; there is a great social divide, clearly demarcated by a thick trail of dancing grey fumes. Society has embraced this and has divided cities and territories into smoking and non-smoking areas. I used to be a smoker myself and while I never minded being herded into small spots to suck on my fag, I never realized how annoying being on the other side of the fence would be.

Since I quit and got my sense of smell back, I am constantly astounded by how desensitized smokers are to the unbearable stench. Even when I was a smoker back in the day, I was always painfully aware of where the trail of dancing fumes went from my cigarette, and I put in an effort to not let it wind up in someone’s face. It seemed like a common sense and minimally-courteous thing to do. Now that I am on the other side of the fence, I am appalled by the sheer lack of decency out there. It’s almost as if most of them believe that if I could just get a decent whiff of that sweet carcinogenic stench, I’ll fall to my knees in rapture and convert on the spot.

During our lunch break, I have literally seen (for the sake of clarity, let’s say people) light one cigarette with another, lest they should tarnish their lungs by breathing lone oxygen for a second. I mean, who the fuck wants plain oxygen when you can enhance the breathing experience with some Acetaldehyde, Arsenic and some yummy chunks of Beryllium? I’m always left wondering “why don’t they just set themselves on fire and get it over with?” It wouldn’t be the first instance in history. At least this way, you could really light up a conversation.

I find it extremely unfair that some outdoor spots become uninhabitable for non-smokers because the cancer chasers flock in groups to the ashtrays. It’s not fair that I have to stay inside and miss great weather because you keep trying to barbeque your lungs. I think non-smokers should be allowed to walk around with methane-farting cows, which would help us maintain a boundary in outdoor areas. I’d choose methane over cigarette smoke anyways, and let’s face it, cows are cute.

Some people smoke only to get out of the office for breaks. To these I offer the following advice: go for a walk. Help out by licking the toilets clean. Anything you choose will be better for your health. And if you’re that desperate to put something in your mouth, I have many suggestions.

Then there are the night crawlers, who roam around socializing with a drink in one hand and a torch in another. I don’t care how inebriated you are, if you burn me, I should get to return the favor. Why are you branding me? Did you win me in a bet behind the scenes that I am unaware of? Approaching someone with a cigarette is also not sexy. “I burn for you baby,” doesn’t work when you’re actually burning my eyes.

The only thing I can say I appreciate about smoking is the oral activity. I mean, anyone that committed to always having something in their mouths wins some of my respect. Hats off to your insatiable and misplaced yearnings.