Don’t fall down. May 7, 2013Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
Tags: avoiding falls, falls, preventing falls
Silence Dogood here. On Sunday, I was going to drop my ancient red VW Golf off at its repair place to get the oil changed and the a/c reactivated. Our friend Ben was planning to follow me in his car and bring me back to our cottage home, Hawk’s Haven. I suggested that we take our beloved black German shepherd, Pioneer Hawk’s Haven Shiloh von Shiloh Special, along for the ride.
Unfortunately for all concerned, Ben went up first to get his car ready for Shiloh. When I followed, Shiloh, ecstatic at seeing OFB and at the prospect of a ride, raced forward, hurling me onto my face on the concrete and gravel and almost throwing me into the path of three cars which were rounding our treacherous bend at way over the speed limit.
Mercifully, I was able to hang on to the leash so Shiloh didn’t end up killed in the road. She was unhurt. My left leg was ripped open from the knee to the ankle, however, and embedded with tiny pieces of gravel. Eeeeewwww!!! The pain was so bad that I cried all the way to the service station.
As if that weren’t enough, the next night, I was heading for bed and OFB had turned off the light. We have a very high antique bed inherited from my great-grandparents, and, at just 5’5″, I have to use a somewhat rickety stool made by a great-uncle in order to launch myself onto it. If I don’t hit the precise middle of the stool, it’s likely to topple over, and that’s just what it did last night. But worse still, not only did I crash to the ground, but the legs of the stool caught the floor lamp, which fell on top of me, and that in turn pulled the cord of the fan, which also fell on me.
Yowie kazowie! I was okay, but was so stunned by the whole experience that it took me a few minutes to get untangled and get myself up, during which a terrified Shiloh rushed over and began compulsively licking my arms and face and poor OFB thought he was going to have to call an ambulance.
All of which is to say, if you don’t have plenty of padding to break a fall (like yours truly) or very good coordination (unlike yours truly), you might want to take the following steps into account:
* Light it up. If our friend Ben and I leave the house before dark, we often don’t think to turn on the front door light. And that’s a terrible mistake, since tree roots have pushed up the stones of our front walkway, making it easy to trip on the edge of one and go crashing down.
* Carry portable lights. Besides small, portable LED flashlights, you can wear headlamps or, as OFB and I do, carry LED keychain lights that not only illuminate the path to the door but let you see the keyhole so you can instantly open the door.
* Train your dog. Our Shiloh is such a smart dog, she recognizes dozens of words and follows every command except stay, come, and heel. This is obviously our fault, not hers. Training her to know the names of all her toys and treats and bring them on command, to sit, lie down, shake, speak, go to her bed, and so on, is great, but it’s not much use when it comes to keeping her safe. If you can’t teach the three major commands (stay, come, and heel), make sure the family member who’s 6’2″ and not the one who’s 5’5″ is holding the dog’s leash when you take her outside. (In my own defense, Shiloh obeys me on leash explicitly when her hero, OFB, isn’t around.)
* Don’t turn off the lights before everyone’s in bed. ‘Nuff said.
* Don’t panic if you fall. Take a moment (or a few) to assess the damage, and determine if it’s really an issue or just some minor cuts and bruises. In my case, it was a big, bad ouch, but no real damage. In a friend’s case, who slipped on the ice on her sidewalk a few years ago, it was a case of broken bones and steel rods in her leg. Don’t try to minimize the damage, but don’t maximize it, either.
* If you don’t have a spouse or partner, have a charged cellphone. I think it’s smart to have both a landline and a cellphone. If the power goes out, the landline will often stay up even though the cellphone fails. If you fall outside or can’t get to your landline phone, but have a charged cellphone in hand, it can literally mean the difference between life and death.
* Have a community. When my neighbor’s husband had a heart attack, she called 911, then she called me. She’s a nurse, so if anything happened to me or OFB, you can bet we’d call her, along with our other neighbor, who’s a gifted DIYer and might be able to think of something to do to help us that wouldn’t have occurred to us. Forming neighborhood connections is a great way to protect yourself.
I was lucky the past two days. Yuck, I’ve got a scratched-up leg, but that’s about it. Make sure you don’t end up in the same or worse shape.
‘Til next time,