Yesterday I fell down the stairs.
I think I was trying to jump down the last two stairs — but I instead miscalculated weight in space and time and wrenched when I should have twisted — I don’t remember much of anything except slowly becoming aware I bellyflopped flat on the floor.

There is no graceful way to perform such a trick except to try not to groan or cry when you finally come to a stop. The hardest part about stopping is the picking yourself up off the floor part.

After you land in slow motion — first on your shoulder as your slam into the hallway corner, then your wrist, fist clasping house keys, and then your knees, each in turn — you quickly realize how falls kill the elderly with malice.

I’m glad I was able to avoid slamming my head into the marble floor. If I were 20 years older I’m not sure I would have been strong enough to avoid head-meeting-floor.

The results were immediate. Bruised right shoulder. Both knees bloodied. Aching wrist. Two fingertips crushed between the metal keys they were holding in my fist and the hard floor. I’m typing this with my nose.

The day after is worse than the day of — because everything has time to condense and expand and throb and wiggle and stiffen — and so I sit here wondering if you have ever done something so stupid that you and only you are to blame for your own physical misfortune?

Please share your pain in all its gory detail — my nose could use a break from typing…

40 Comments

  1. Hi David,
    Sorry to hear about your accident. Your vivid description was painful to read!
    I have done many stupid things, but this one stands out:
    Several years ago I was into fly fishing. The streams around here are treacherous, with uneven rocky bottoms, so its hard to get good footing.
    It’s easy to step off into a deep pool and find yourself underwater.
    I was wading and fishing close to the bank, but I wasn’t having any luck, so I decided to cross the stream and see if the fishing was better on the other side.
    There is a reason for the sage advice “Don’t cross the river.” A current runs down the center.
    As I stepped into midstream, I felt the current grab me and try to pull me under. I almost panicked, but regained enough sense not to fight it and float awhile until it got weaker.
    Luckily, I was had belted my waders, so the water wouldn’t fill them up and sink me like a stone.
    My husband was fishing nearby and helped pull me to safety, as I floated by.
    After I calmed down, I realized it was too close of an encounter with death, as I could have drowned, and vowed never to do that again!
    What a stupid move!
    Donna

  2. Excellent story, Donna! I’m so glad you were able to remain calm in the mix of it!
    The hardest thing about the day after is dealing with the reality of the randomness of how easily bodies can be tricked and deceived by gravity.
    A few years ago a local teacher in Nebraska was in his garage working on something while on a stepladder. He missed a step on the ladder on his way down and landed on his head and died immediately — right there! People to this day still can’t believe he’s dead and how he died.

  3. Oh, so many times there just isn’t room here – I have the clumsy gene 😉
    One occasion springs to mind. Some years back (I’ll leave the precise number to your imagination) when I was at university I was running down the street with a friend so as not to be late for a lecture. We had been in the student union at lunch time and had lingered a little too long over that second pint and a game of pool.
    I should mention this was the middle of winter and the pavements were sheet ice in places, so that when I came to a corner and had to stop suddenly for a car turning up the street I took a rather ungraceful tumble and landed on my back, knocking the air out of me.
    Not so bad in itself you might think. Unfortunately I had chosen to do it right outside the front doors of the officers training coprs (of which my friend was a member) and the whole event was caught on CCTV !!
    Or I could show you the picture I took on my mobile phone of my eye a few months back here in Sweden when I took a rather similar tumble dashing across the road to the car. I caught the bone just above my eye socket and no amount of frozen peas could take the resultant swelling below the size of a golf ball !!
    //Mike

  4. Yeow, Mike! I feel for you! I never realized until I started to get older how dangerous our bodies are to our well-being!
    Stairs are dangerous — as are changes in the urban landscape! A friend of mine tripped over a break in the sidewalk and hit his head, broke his shoulder and tore his rotator cuff all in a flash! He had to be ambulanced out to a hospital.
    I now understand why the elderly want to live in “flat houses” without any stairs. If you’re in your 40s and buying a house — think longterm! 20-30 years down the line do you want all those upper levels and basement? Or is a Ranch Style home a better choice for the safety of your longevity?

  5. Been there done that – far too many times to mention. In the UK we have an expression for it – “falling ass over tit”
    The last time it happened to me was last year on a visit to Launceston – the “Ancient Capital” of Cornwall. The only problem being that its pavements are paved and ancient as well. Trying to find the place we were going and taking ones eye of the pavement – quick as a flash I was flat on my back.
    All in all I got away with it pretty lightly – turned ankle, grazed knee and a bruised wrist and thumb – the only real damage was to my pride. I think it makes it worse when you make a public spectacle of yourself.
    The day after is definitely the worst day – when it all starts coming out. I find a warm bath is soothing – along with plenty of rest.

  6. I mostly run into poles and doors. This is because I don’t look where I’m going. I also read and walk at the same time. My friends find it pretty amusing, so I’ve learned how to pay more attention.
    I’ve also tripped over stairs, ledges, and curbs. Most of the time I don’t actually fall down. But needless to say, this is why I avoid wearing high heels.

  7. Nicola!
    I guess I’ve been pretty lucky to not fall so often. Gosh, it hurts! 😀
    I’m so glad your most recent episode didn’t wound your body forever!
    Yes, the day after is not great fun. I keep trying to loosen up my wrist and put my fingertips into action but they don’t want to cooperate much.

  8. Hi Stacy!
    Thanks for registering! We have missed you!
    Poles and doors. I better look out for those as well! We have a friend who has Usher Syndrome and she never looks where she’s going when she’s engaged in a street conversation so she’s always bumping into fire hydrants and mail boxes with all of her energy and power. She never says she’s hurt but you know by her expression that she hurts.
    I’m glad you aren’t falling for high heels! They are deadly and awful for your feet! Flats for everyone! 😀

  9. David,
    I am the clumsiest person you have ever met. The only injuries my body has ever sustained (except for a bad car wreck I was in) have been inflicted by my own stupidity!
    I, too, have fallen down the stairs. The apartments where I live have a staircase going to each upstairs apartment that twists around a total of three times. It is nice to have my own staircase and not have to share with others. What is not nice is the fact that these stairs are old, wooden, and very slick when it has been raining. If it has been sleeting…well…you can kiss your toosh goodbye.
    I was rushing out to work one day a couple winters ago and I was carrying a couple pans of goodies for someone’s birthday/bank anniversary/last day/whatever excuse we were using on that particular day to pig out. It had been sleeting and snowing that morning and most of the night before. Since I was carrying pans of goodies, I did not have a free hand to grasp the handrail. Since I was on my way to work, I was wearing pumps that had heels the size of pencils and about as much traction as an ice cube. And since I was leaving a little later than usual, I was in a hurry and not really interested in taking my time getting down those stairs.
    The result? I slipped on the first step I took. I tumbled all the way down the staircase. I ended up with a sprained ankle, bloody knees, bone bruises on both shins that still hurt and are still visible to this day. I was supposed to be on crutches for a couple weeks, but I was a bank teller at the time and it is dang near impossible to perform that job on crutches. So I only used them for two days, got annoyed with them and just hobbled around.
    I feel your pain!

  10. Emily!
    You are living cartoon! Gosh, it’s fun to watch you from afar — but I fear getting too close to you in person might risk getting burned by your incendiary flame of life! :mrgreen:
    What a great story about a tumble — I’m glad you are okay and can still talk about it even wearing the war wounds.
    I’ve decided steps are an inconvenience and I have a new respect for ramps. We have two steps up into our bedroom and it’s dangerous! There are no railings so if you’re carrying something or half asleep you have to hang on to the walls to navigate up and down.

  11. David!
    HA!
    Though no one has ever called me a Living Cartoon before…I realize that, unfortunately, that is a pretty accurate description. Heh.
    Steps are just a bad idea. Expecting me to balance myself and whatever I am carrying and use my legs for their intended purpose at the same time is expecting a little too much!

  12. David,
    I can deal with that! Emily: The Cartoon isn’t as bad as some other “nicknames” I’ve had…
    Once I burned myself on my stomach with my curling iron. This injury was particularly difficult to explain to people because the first question they asked was, “What on earth was your curling iron doing near your stomach?” Well, I left the iron on and it was sitting on the bathroom counter. I was leaning over reeeeeeeeeal close to the mirror because I was plucking my eyebrows. I happened to be wearing only a sports bra and I happened to lean directly over the curling iron and FSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!! Cooked my stomach like an evening meal. And, since I was plucking my eyebrows at the time of impact, I stabbed myself in the eye with my tweezers!

  13. Sorry about the accident David!
    Hope you are feeling better now.
    The greatest “fall” of my life I encountered was in one of my friend’s wedding.
    I was gracefully draped in a sari, stepped out of a cab in front of my friend’s house with equal elegance, took a couple step forward…and there you go…I was there on the floor, laying on my back, surrounded with curious unknown faces and bombarded with questions like –
    -Are you alright? How did it happen? Can you stand on your feet? Let me help you!!!!
    To top it all, that 5 & ½ meter long, non-stitched piece of cloth I was wearing just fell down on the floor when I tried to stand up.
    http://www.webindia123.com/women/attire/sari.htm
    Anyone wants to know more?

  14. Hi Katha! What a story! Do you have any lingering problems since the fall?
    I think saris are beautiful. Are they generally dangerous? Doe they easily unwrap to expose you?
    Sorry about Akismet! It’s going wild today for some reason on all the WP.com blogs!

  15. Katha!! HAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh man, I can just see your bewildered and annoyed face as you are trying to pull yourself up off the ground. Did everyone standing around see your sari fall off? How embarrassing!

  16. David,
    I hurt my back pretty badly, but it didn’t linger for long – probably I was young – that’s why.
    No doubt a gracefully draped sari looks gorgeous but you also carry a risk of getting entangled in that long piece of cloth if you miss one of your step while wearing it.
    There is no button, stitch or zip that can keep a sari in its place.
    The lower part of a sari is tucked in a petticoat and the upper is part just loosely placed on a blouse.
    If you ever try to run wearing a sari you will soon find out that you are running in your petticoat and blouse…leaving the sari behind…!!!

  17. Emily!
    Yes! That’s exactly what happened!
    I was furious and extremely embarrased at the same time!
    An wedding reception in India is like a mini carnival, so was my friend’s – there were hosts welcoming the guests at the front gate, guests entering the house, friends of the bride and groom were busy finding a pretty girl/boy –
    The calamity happened in front of everybody. 🙁

  18. Hi David,
    I wish you the speediest of recovery. You are right, the next day soreness is horrible. Take care of yourself.
    As for things that I have been completely responsible for that have led to my own pain. Leaving out martial arts and powerlifting injuries, I still have many less than responsible antics and incidents under my belt.
    The ingredients for one of those incidents are as follows.
    Underage teenage drinking, friend with nunchuks, unbelievable bravado, and a pinch of youthful invulnerability.
    The result was pain, a healthy helping of stitches, skull fragments, and 12 hours that I may never remember and definitely will never get back.
    Oh, to be a teenager again. Wouldn’t go back for anything, I was a menace to myself.

  19. Hi Eban!
    Love your new Avatar. What is it indicating?
    Things are much better now, thanks! Everything is looser. The Advil kicked in and all is warming up.
    Wow! Did you attack and get a nunchuks response in defense? Did anyone go to jail?

  20. Hi David,
    The avatar is my Reaching for Lucidity imprint which covers my show, blog, art, and animation work.
    As for the nunchuks, I can only wish it was some type of fight, noble or not. In reality, we had just viewed a movie by comedian Johnny Yune called They Call Me Bruce.
    I wanted to show my prowess with the “chuks”, even though it was the first time I ever held the weapon in my life. Turns out I had as much skill with the “chuks” as Yune’s character in the movie. Long story short, in showing off, I did it to myself. Yes, the 12 hours of amnesia is actually a bit of a blessing, lol.

  21. Hi David,
    I hope you’re feeling better.
    When I was a kid, I remember jumping off of the last couple of steps on a stair case. I don’t know why I did it, but it seemed like it would be fun to do. If I had been thinking, I would have noticed the door frame at the bottom of the stairs, but I didn’t.
    I leaped off of the stairs and immediately banged my head onto the top of the door frame.

  22. That’s pretty much what happened to me, Chris! I always used to “jump” down the last couple of steps to the landing and the other day I jumped one step too soon and landed on the edge of the first step and found myself blammo on the ground.