That’s out of the way

Me, my cell phone and the bruise on the inside of my left upper arm in a mirror.Well, now that’s out of the way.

For weeks I have been anxious about this winter and terrified that a fall on the ice could land me not just on the sidewalk, but back in the hospital. I spent way more than usual on a pair of good, supportive shoes with excellent traction. I even imagined falling during some of those balance exercises at therapy.

I guess I don’t have to be afraid of that anymore.

Last night, minutes after I put the Little Guy to bed in his crib, I headed down the stairs with a basket of laundry. I’m in the habit of counting stairs now — for the Little Guy and to be sure I don’t miss one and tumble. I got to step seven — half-way down — but I never said eight. All the sudden I heard this loud noise and I was on my side in a heap at the bottom of the staircase. My left arm hurt and I was sort of holding my breath.

My mind was racing: What the hell just happened? Am I going to be able to stand up? Did I just destroy everything that the last three months have accomplished? How could I be so stupid?

After about a minute of sitting there in a daze and trying to compose myself, I just stood up. Honestly, I stood up like it was nothing and walked to the bathroom. The inside of my left upper arm was throbbing and I went to check it out in the mirror. It was red, but it’s not like the bone was sticking out or something. My pelvis and my back both felt find, but my bottom was tender.

I decided to call my mom, since my husband was in a pre-tournament meeting in St. Paul. Somehow, my mom thought I said the Little Guy was in the laundry basket. Why that would ever make sense is beyond me, but it made me laugh and the distraction was nice. Actually, the noise didn’t even wake the Little Guy up. But it was front and center on my mind that that it been the pervious trip on the stairs I would have been carrying him, not laundry. The laundry actually landed at the bottom of the stairs just as though it had been thoughtfully placed there. The Little Guy wouldn’t have been so lucky.

After I talked with my mom I did a few of the chores I had to get done. The Little Guy’s cloth diapers needed rinsed, there was laundry and packing lunches for tomorrow. But my mind wouldn’t stop racing and my arm was decidedly blue and in an interesting pattern, I’m sure caused by direct, hard contact with a few stairs.

I talked to my husband and he tried to help me calm down. “You’re just a little banged up. You’re fine. Right? You’re fine. You’re going to go upstairs when you go to sleep and you’re going to be fine when you bring him down in the morning.”

Most of me knew he was right. I would be careful. I would pay attention. And the Little Guy and I would be just fine. But part of me felt like maybe I rushed the whole “Independence Day” thing. Maybe I was getting ahead of myself thinking I could just carry laundry down the stairs as quickly as I wanted. Then I stopped. Listen to yourself, I thought. Yes, I CAN carry laundry down the stairs. Yes, I do have to pay attention, but I WILL NOT PUT ARTIFICIAL LIMITS ON MYSELF.

At therapy today I showed Amy the massive bruise and we talked through what happened.

“Were you running down the stairs?” She said it with a little grin and kind of mischievous tone, like when you ask someone, “Did you take a cookie” and you’d be glad if they had. And then I thought about it. I know for sure I was wearing socks — not always good. And I know I’ve run down the stairs once before. Maybe I was running down the stairs. Maybe I just don’t need to be so darned excited to be doing the laundry next time.

It was Amy who pointed out to me that now falling is “out of the way.” It’s not something I need to be afraid of, or something I let hold me back. “It’s happened. You’re OK,” she said. She’s right. I learned an important lesson. I have to pay attention. But that’s true for all of us, not just those of us with metal in our pelvis. And I’ll have a reminder for as long as it takes for this massive bruise to go away.

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