Every birthday you say “I don’t feel any different than I did when I was 30, 40, 50 (you fill in the age)?” I know what makes you feel old – a fall or a stupid accident. You can fall when you are young but it’s more memorable when you’re old. You feel like a blithering idiot especially when it’s dry, sunny, no change in flooring, no logical reason, etc.
This past week I fell. (No, I didn’t hurt anything but my pride.) One moment I was upright and the next I was crumpled in an awkward position on the floor. I don’t exactly know how I did it, but I felt old and vulnerable. I don’t like that feeling.
I sat on the floor for five minutes and had a good cry. I wasn’t hurt but the age fairy gave me a reminder of things to come and I didn’t like it.
All my life I’ve had good joints. I still have the original parts. Nothing hurts when I walk and I don’t take that for granted. I have too many friends that set off metal detectors.
My mom was afraid of falling as she got older. I didn’t understand then, but I do now. There is something in that little balance area of your brain that takes naps at the most inopportune times. You can’t catch yourself like you would have 20, 30 years ago. You don’t look like a ballerina either. More like a fish pulled out of the water flopping on the floor.
Then starts the litany of the questions. Did I break a bone? How about my hip? My wrist? All those parts that send old people to nursing homes to mend (and would sabotage my daily Starbucks mocha).
It’s humiliating even if no one is there to see you. If someone is, you quickly (? This is a relative term) sprint upright, dust yourself off and utter something like “no big deal, I’m fine.” But are you? I said that when I fractured my kneecap many years ago only to find out that the leg doesn’t work when the kneecap is fractured. Another flopping fish demonstration.
In this case I sent two cats flying from the room. They had no intention of getting wedged under a clumsy person. They peered around the corner to remind me that they don’t have opposable thumbs to dial for help.
After I had my auto accident, I became fearful of driving. Not just my own driving but all those crazies out there who don’t realize how awful and painful (both financially and medically) an accident is. Falling is very similar. I’m not fearful of walking but I am feeling closer to my neanderthal ancestors than ever before. Maybe using your hands on the ground for balance wasn’t such a weird idea.
I’m signing off to lick my scrapes and bruises and to convince myself that it was a logical fall caused by something other than clumsiness. It wasn’t about age at all. Old age is always 20 years older than me.