It was a beautiful, warm fall, sunny day. I was on my almost daily walk from our home on NE 32nd ave, east on NE Knott, then up NE Wisteria to almost Alameda. I turned down NE 49th to the stairs that would take me down to 50th. I was about to take my regular stairs down when I spotted another set of stairs I had never gone down. I could see they were little used halfway down, no hand rail and many spider webs. I hurried down the stairs, brushing at the webs when two steps from the bottom, I caught my toe and flew through the air. I saw the 50th street pavement coming at me and landed with a sickening thump; like a fist slammed into a piece of meat in Rocky.
I lay there longer than normal after a fall. My elbow hurt and the bottle of water I had carried rolled down the street. Slowly, I gather myself and managed to stand. My hip hurt and I held my elbow. Somehow I walked down the street to my water and sat down on the front steps to a house nearby. I sat there for some time sipping water. I checked my Map My Walk on my phone. I had gone over a mile and a half in 17 minutes. One of my fastest times ever. That meant I was about a mile and a half from home. Finally, I got up and started slowly walking. My body hurt so much, I knew I was not going to be walking home. So I called my wife to come pick me up.
I told her, “I think my elbow is broken.” We went to the emergency room. After xrays, the doctors determined I had broken my elbow in two places and my pelvis in two places. When we returned from the hospital to our house, it took my wife and me 45 minutes to get out of the car and up three steps into the house. Most painful thing I’ve ever done.
Almost two months later I can walk without pain. I am up to one and half miles walking and my elbow has healed. Unless it bothers me, the metal and screws in my elbow will be permanent. I was lucky I didn’t fall on my head. I was lucky the breaks weren’t worse.
The NY Times today carries an article that says, An Aging Nation Braces for More Deadly Falls
“As the American population ages, the number of older people who fall and suffer serious, even fatal, injuries is soaring. So retirement communities, assisted living facilities and nursing homes where millions of older Americans live are trying to balance safety and their residents’ desire to live as they choose.
“They are hiring architects and interior designers, some of whom wear special glasses that show the building as an old person would see it. Some have begun to install floor lighting, much like that on airplanes, that automatically illuminates a pathway to the bathroom when a resident gets out of bed.
“The number of people over 65 who died after a fall reached nearly 24,000 in 2012, almost double the number 10 years earlier, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“More than 200,000 Americans over 65 died after falls in the decade from 2002 to 2012. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death in that age group.
“And more than 2.4 million people over 65 were treated in emergency departments for injuries from falls in 2012 alone, an increase of 50 percent over a decade.”
For awhile, during those two months I fought depression. I sat in the backyard in the sun and just closed my eyes and thought of little. I slept more and thought about the sound of my body hitting the street. I feel vulnerable.
I thank my wife Bev and my sister Cheryl and daughters Erica and Gilyn for all their help when I was down. I thank all my friends and acquaintances for their good thoughts and prayers. I also thank God that my fall wasn’t permanently worse.