Some of you know that about four weeks ago I had a fall. I fell about five feet onto cement pavers, gashing my head, a wound requiring six stitches. Luckily it was on the opposite side on my head to where I had the aneurysm clipped last July. In falling I also hit my right shin and my left shoulder both of which were giving me a lot of pain when I arrived in the hospital. So I had x-rays on shin and shoulder, a CT of my brain to make sure I had not had a bleed and after all that was clear, the stitches. I was pretty weary by then, as this was the beginning of the COVID19 scare I didn't have a bed to lie down on, just sat in a chair much like the ones I have in my lounge room. The nurses were kind but brisk, obviously I was not ill or in need of help with just a minor wound to be stitched.
I didn't actually fall, I slipped. I was doing something really stupid, cleaning out the rubbish from under my orange tree on my hands and knees. I stood up and turned around but I had a plastic tub in my arms when I turned to go back to the path and suddenly my right foot went over the bank, I slid over the retaining wall and the rest of my body naturally followed. The fall resulted in me coming to with half of my body under the BBQ, a really difficult place to extract myself from. But apart from the head injury I was remarkably lucky to sustain as few injuries as I did. Only the large amount of blood pooling under my shoulder alerted me to the fact that I needed to make a move, go into the house and find something to staunch the blood flow.
I was hysterical for a minute or two, then I realised I had no help close by and when I'd managed to get inside, I phoned a friend who told me to call an ambulance, and so I finished up in hospital. Five hours later I had to ring my daughter Shirley to come and get me as she needed to stay with me overnight in case I had delayed concussion. That is the downside of being alone, you can hardly ask a neighbor to come and stay the night can you? And so it had to be Shirley. It is a situation where the fact that I live independently is a minus rather than a plus. I am like so many other older folk I want to stay in my own home for as long as I can but I know that is not going to be forever. Perhaps that can happen for some time yet, but in a different way. If I can't stay safe and rely on continuing to do my own housework etc I am going to have to have some assistance to go on living here.
I have had the stitches out now and thought I had dodged a bullet until today. Today I went right up the back of my yard to clear out leaves, small branches etc that had accumulated due to some wind storms. It is a job I do once or twice a year. I took a bag with me this time in place of the plastic tub. On the way down to the bin I felt myself starting to slip. This time I was close to the fence so I reached out and managed to stand upright again. I was still shaken. Two falls so close to one another would have called my safety into question. And I don't want that to happen. I know my kids love me to be independent, the old "Mum can cope" thing, but I am aware of how much my body has been through in the past three years.
I know part of the problem is the cut muscle behind my left knee that happened during the Melanoma operation which has made me feel less stable. I had thought I was over that but the fact is that like stroke damage once the damage was done all I could do is learn to live with it. I now need to recognise the dangers in some of the things I USED to do and either compromise on what I need to do and get someone in to do it or restrict the area I need help with. Knowing that is the choice doesn't seem to help but I DO know in my mind that this is what I have to do. Don't you just hate that? The uncompromising nature of life? Being isolated at home during this Corona virus scare has given me too much time to think, it has made me look at my life in a different way. I can usually keep myself busy and ignore what is happening, keep thinking that I am coping well with life but in the end I have had to realise it is really about the consequences of ageing. It is a bitter pill to swallow.
And so I now have a fear of falling. Sometimes our fears keep us safe, hopefully that is what will happen in this case. I will look at what needs to be done and how I can do it safely. I will take my mobile phone with me to call for help whether I need it or not. I will wear gloves while gardening to avoid being bitten by ants and spiders. Really I am not that fussy fussy kind of person. I am impulsive, spontaneous, busy, probably a little too careless if the truth be known. But I need to also be safe, safe in the house, safe in the garden. There is a lot of self isolation ahead of us and I want to continue with this yard clearing, house cleaning, climbing up to do the tops of the wardrobes etc.jobs. I need those kind of jobs to keep me busy with worthwhile projects while I am confined to my house and yard, being careful of course but still achieving something worthwhile. It would be different if I had someone here to help me or just to be available to ring an ambulance or bandage me up when I need it. But I don't.
This is the downside of being a widow.