Tuesday morning was bleak. The sun was supposed to be up when I opened the door from the kitchen to the deck to let the dogs out but I couldn’t see it. The world was gray and cold—19 degrees. It had been raining the night before so I should have been more cautious but my mind was elsewhere: congratulating itself once again for mailing all the Christmas packages; ruminating over a possible blog piece; making a checklist of things that needed to be done that day and trying to watch where the dogs went—because someone has to clean up the mess and that someone is always me. I should have been paying more attention to the surface of the deck because then I would have realized that the top step (which is slate) was coated in a sheet of ice. But I didn’t.
I just stepped off the wooden deck onto the ice, flew into the air and tumbled down. I curled my head in and put my arms up around it. I told myself to scream so someone would come because this was the way old people broke their hips. And by the time I landed my roll down the steps, I thought for sure that I had broken my hip. After a few minutes of lying on the ground, I realized that no one was coming to help and I had better try standing up because I would freeze if I lay on the frozen mud much longer. I got up. I was in pain, yet I could move, so I started walking around the yard after the dogs. (Later my husband would tell me that he looked out the window and saw me walking and consequently figured that I was all right). I hiked up to the end of the driveway to get the paper, which wasn’t there, and came back inside for coffee and to assess the damage.
I had been wearing a really old puffy blue ski parka which protected my upper body. I had a few sore arm muscles, but my tailbone and my right gluteus muscles were trashed. My natural padding had saved my skeleton but my skin in this area was a solid purple and one buttock was twice the size of the other. I have taken quite a few falls snowboarding but nothing as spectacular as this.
Luckily I had dental surgery scheduled for that morning. (I know, could the day get any better?) Like my tumble off the deck, this surgery was the result of my own negligence. Sometime last winter I was eating something (when and what I don’t remember) when I crunched down and felt something gritty—part of a filling. Just filling. No tooth attached to it. There was no pain. I couldn’t see where I lost it. I was busy. My cousin’s daughter was getting married. Then I was going to Hawaii. I thought I’ll wait and mention it when I went in for my checkup. I didn’t go for a checkup until July. The bad news: I had broken a tooth; gum had grown over the broken part; I needed a crown. But I didn’t return for the crown until December. I hate going to the dentist.
Had I taken care of this last January, I might not have had to have some of my gum and part of my jawbone diminished so that a crown would fit. On the other hand, I would not have multiple prescriptions for pain medications. I don’t know which was worse: the jaw or the leg.
So I have been slowly recuperating. I spent the rest of the week in workout clothes and comfortable shoes or slippers. I don’t move fast. This is difficult when you are taking care of a two and a half year old whose idea of fun is either running or playing crash. Grandma doesn’t feel like playing either. (And this limits those painkillers because almost three year olds are wily and grandma needs her wits.) On Thursday my grandson kept unlocking the kitchen door and dashing outside and up the driveway. Normally I would have him back in the house before he could leave the deck, but I had no speed. My muscles ached with every step. I couldn’t wait for naptime.
But going slowly also has its advantages. Grandson and I sat by a window and watched the birds—sparrows, finches, chickadees–and three very plump squirrels on the front lawn for forty-five minutes one morning. Would I have noticed them if I had been bustling around, cleaning the house? I saw the fox on the edge of the woods in the morning and again in the afternoon one day this week. If I hadn’t stopped to catch my breath, would I have known he was out there, hunting squirrels and chipmunks? Would I have enjoyed the antics of the gray squirrels preparing for winter if I was my usual busy self?
My house isn’t totally decorated yet. I have the three small trees decorated but not the big one in the living room. I haven’t put out my collection of crèches. Instead I drank cup after cup of warm spiced tea, sat by a warm fire and watched the world outside my windows. It was heaven.