When was the last time you fell down?

I remember many years ago, what I call “In a former lifetime,” my room-mate came home and 0511-1001-1419-2130_Dance_Partner_Falling_Down_clipart_image.jpgannounced with some confusion and a little glee that he had fallen down. Just lost it, and fell down. At the time, it was a curiosity – I had to think, when was the last time I fell down. Not got knocked down, or tripped, but just lost the equilibrium and fell down.
I couldn’t remember when the last time was.

Fast forward to my current life-time. I was out for a walk at lunchtime, and as a public service, tried to kick a big cardboard box out of the road. I lost my balance, and fell down. Right in the road. fortunately, no one saw me, and I was still, at that point, able to pick myself up. I have fallen a few times since then, and I still don’t think anyone has witnessed it. It is a bit weird, as an adult, to fall down. There was the time I was sitting on an easy chair, watching TV, and realized I had slipped forward far enough that I was unable to leverage myself back up so I could stand. I figured I’d simply let myself slip the rest of the way onto the floor, and, using the chair and the bed next to it, haul myself back up. I rolled over onto my front, planning to do a push up and get myself onto my knees, and from there, easy as pie. Nope. Luckily, I had my cell phone, and called my wife who was downstairs, and told her I had fallen and I could not get up. She came up, and tired valiantly to get falling-goofy-picme up into a position where we could get me back on the chair, but my massive bulk proved beyond her abilities. Damn you, Gravity! We had to call the EMTs to come rescue me. (Pro tip: if you ever feel you are getting too big for your britches and want to take yourself down a peg or two, have a few strangers come over to your house and help you do something that 99% of people your age can do all by themselves. Like pick you up off the floor.)

I guess in the end, it was no big deal. The two EMT responders were great. We were able to focus on the humor of the situation, they managed to get me back into to the chair, made sure I was OK, and left. Probably had a good laugh back at the station, but that’s OK. I’m always glad to brighten another’s day.

I’ve fallen a few other times. There is a dent in the radiator at the top of the stairs that is the exact same circumference as the back of my head. I have not had to call for assistance since that first time. But just the other day, I fell in my room, trying to put my pants on. I was hiking them up, and lost my balance, and needed to sit down, but only gotI-ve-Fallen-and-I-Can-t-Get-Up! about half of one cheek onto the chair. It was a slow-motion fall, the kind where you have a few vital seconds to A) realize you are falling, B) notice what you are going to fall on, C) determine if it is going to hurt or not, and D) try to fall in such a way that will make it easier to get back up. This time, I had to do a lot of wriggling on the floor to get myself to the foot of the bed, up onto my hands and knees, and, using the bed, back onto my feet. Exhausting.

Since then, I’ve noticed a distinct increase in my deteriorating grasp on the concept of balance. I’ve come close to falling down the stairs when reaching for my walker, and even a few times nearly tipping over sideways when using the walker. (What kind of doof falls down man-walker-falling-16010445when using a walker?) For some of us, the possibility of falling is ever-present. We just have to keep our wits about us, be as observant was possible when going down, and keep the cell phone handy. A sense of humor is very helpful as well.

(Share your favorite falling-down story in the Comments!)

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Author: Stephen

Stephen Harris is a writer, painter and a photographer who lives with his family in Maine.

13 thoughts on “When was the last time you fell down?”

  1. Mine was not a “fall down” – but was just as bad. After the cancer surgery, weight loss, etc. I was very weak. One day while home alone, A screw fell out of my glasses…I caught the lens…but where was that pesky screw on the kitchen floor? So I went down on hands and knees to find it (and did very quickly), and then found I could not just GET BACK UP like I had done my whole lifetime. I was debating a call to my wife at work (I’ve fallen and can’t get up) – but managed to slowly crawl to a kitchen chair and use that to pull myself up. Even then, I almost was not successful.

  2. Actually, I also had 2 falls in that same time period. I had my computer chair in the bathroom because even just getting undressed for a shower was strenuous enough I needed to sit and rest. Went to sit and (of course), the damned wheeled chair scooted right out from under me. My wife could not get me back up by herself, but after about 10 minutes – I was able to crawl out of the bathroom to the stairs across the hall (they go down…). From there I could sit on the top stair with my feet down a few stairs and get to a standing position.

    Also while visiting a friend’s alpaca farm, I was walking over to the fence and the uneven ground got to me. I caught myself on the fence so that I only went to my knees…but again, could not get vertical again without help from both my friend and my wife. Embarrassing.

  3. I used to fall with some regularity when I was using a cane or crutches. But now that I’m in a wheelchair the only opportunities I have to fall are bad transfers, and they only seem to be happening once or twice a year. my worst fall was a few years ago when I went to transfer from the toilet back to my wheelchair, and I found my little dog sitting in my wheelchair. In an effort not to squish her I didn’t get enough cheek to seat contact, and I ended up on the bathroom floor, with no cell phone. A few hours later my wife came home and helped me up. The dog never thanked me.

  4. I’ve taken a few spills — I used to call it “Tripping on air.” Once, in the school where I was principal, and very few people knew about my condition, I just lost my footing on a hardwood floor and did a flying fall. There were two teachers present, and fortunately no students. After I got to my feet and dusted myself off, I smiled at the teachers and said, “And for my next act…” They laughed, and the event was passed off as nothing. Now, I try to be very careful, but I know that at least once a year, I’ll be hitting the floor.

    1. Ha, good story. I call it, “tripping over a pattern in the carpet.” I feel very fortunate that I don’t say hello to the floor more often. Maybe I’m not walking enough.

  5. Your step-by-step description of a slow motion fall is well-described!
    My first good fall happened right after husband left for work one day. I didn’t have my hands on the brakes of my rollator and miscalculated my footing, sprawling across the foyer floor. As I was assessing any possible damage, uttering my favorite expletives and deciding on a course of action, husband walked back in the door having forgotten something. We were both surprised – his at my position, me at his fortunate appearance. It was his first experience lifting me.
    My most humbling fall was when a friend came by for a visit. We decided to eat lunch together so she went out to pick something up. There was a spot on the kitchen floor that of course HAD to be cleaned before she returned. I was using my rollator and reached down to wipe it off but instead I went down to meet it. She came back and couldn’t find me because I was definitely below eye level. I spoke to let her know I was still there, still hungry, but unable to join her at the table. She has medical issues herself so I wouldn’t allow her to help me. Husband was out of town. I tried a number of things. Finally managed to drag myself to the couch and used my arms to pull myself up backwards to a seated position. We were able to laugh about it together and, thankfully, she still comes to visit.

    1. good stories! as i said, it can be very humbling to find oneself on the floor, and unable to get oneself back to an upright and seated position. i’m glad your friend wasn’t scared off! and glad you survived.

  6. Just found your blog and wanted to reach out. If you could, please email me when you can. Thanks!

    PS I might need to hear the story about dinner for Tiny Tim and Todd Rundgren!

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