Joanne reenacts her fall on a slippery sidewalk. Doug Rygalo
In mid-December, I was walking very carefully down a dark icy sidewalk, and in a split second my feet suddenly slipped forward out from under me, and I fell back on the ice with a huge thud. I hit my hips, back, right elbow, and head on the concrete. I laid there stunned for a minute or two. I was embarrassed as my granddaughter tried to help me, and I didn’t want to pull her down too. So, I struggled to get up, with nothing to hang onto. I finally rolled over and pushed up on all four limbs, even though everything hurt. Immediately I noticed a huge egg-size bump on my right elbow which later became a huge bruise, making my right forearm black and blue. I was also dizzy, and could barely walk without feeling like I would fall again. I had boots with metal cleats on, but still I fell. When I got home, I found myself hanging onto the walls and furniture as I tried to walk through my house, with my head spinning.
I went to the doctor the next day, who listened to my story of what happened. After examining me, he did some tests, and confirmed that I have a concussion. He said, “This is a serious injury. The only way to overcome a concussion is to rest – no driving, no climbing ladders, no walking dogs.” With one week to go before Christmas, just resting was not easy, but I promised to “take it easy” and get as much rest as I could. I found that I could not drive far or go visit friends. There was a huge sense of anxiety whenever I thought of going even outside. My dogs could not understand why we did not go on our usual walks twice a day. It was like being a prisoner in my own house. Sadly, I missed most of the Christmas celebrations with my family and friends.
I now understand how serious a concussion can be – it is a brain injury which affects everything we do. We depend on our brains to make decisions and to gather the right information to do so. But for the past three weeks for me, after falling, all the messages seem skewed. I find myself standing in the middle of a room feeling completely confused. Besides that, the jarring affect of a fall on all the joints causes long-lasting pain. It is very scary, and I do not wish this on anyone. I am somewhat better now, but the concussion effects linger on. So please think of me as you clear your sidewalks of ice and snow.