Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Are You Afraid of Falling?

That was the first thing the government asked on my Wellness Check Questionnaire.  All I could do was laugh.  Yes, I am afraid of falling.  I have been afraid of falling since I was 10 years old.  I don't like to bleed.  I don't like to break things.  I don't like wearing bandaids and feeling sore.  Yes, I am afraid of falling.

I've just come home from visiting a friend who fell.  She doesn't remember the incident; she found herself lying on the tile floor in her casita one evening after dinner.  She doesn't know how she got there.  She saw the Pull Here For Help chain and pulled.  That summoned the House Manager who summoned the EMTs who transported her to the Emergency Room.  She spent nearly 24 hours in the ER before being transferred to HealthSouth Rehabilitation Institute of Tucson.

This is the face of modern medicine.  They patched up the bruises and bumps they could see, they stitched what needed stitching and wrapped what needed wrapping, but they never found a room for her.  She needed rehabilitation not medicine, they determined, and, once they found a place which would accept her peculiar combination of insurance and injuries, she was off.

With her arm in a sling and her feet not yet able to hold her weight, she's quite a site to behold. She is more black and blue than I thought possible.  And she's definitely afraid of falling again.

Several months after her 75th birthday, another friend and I were leaving a restaurant, arm in arm.  As we approached the stairs to the parking lot, she released herself from my grasp and transferred her attention to the railing at her side.   "I always hold on, now.  I hate looking like an old lady, but I really don't want to fall. "  I spent the next ten minutes assuring her that she was not that old, that she was not that feeble, that she was, in fact, very smart to take precautionary measures.  After all, nobody wants to fall.

Big Cuter knocked me to the ground in a game of Family Basketball.  He was 12 or 13; I was 31 years his senior.  I bounced across the driveway.  I was scraped and aching.  He gathered me in his arm and carried me into the house.  It was hard to tell who was more upset.  Neither one of us wanted me to fall.

And so I wondered - who created that Wellness questionnaire?  The answer is obvious.  Or, perhaps, it has a more subtle purpose.  Perhaps answering No is an indication of incipient dementia.  After all, everybody is afraid of falling.  Aren't you?

6 comments:

  1. I don't think I fear falling but I definitely am more cautious after the time I caught my toe on one of our Oriental carpets, that the cats had raised with playing. I landed hard, broke my nose and was definitely shocked how easily it had happened because i had been in a hurry and not paying attention to what's under my feet. If i fell without knowing the reason, I'd be afraid it'd been a ministroke and worried about that as much as the falling. At almost 74, I am more aware of that sort of thing that I used to be. I turn more carefully these days without just spinning around and setting off. I don't know that I'd use the word fear but maybe it is the right one. I am sure more aware.

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    1. Aware is less angsty than fear, isn't it. Perhaps they should reword the questionnaire: Are you more aware of the risks of falling ?
      a/b

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  2. In Vermont, we are asked is there are unsecured guns in the house. That question is not allowed by state law in Florida. I don't remember being asked the fear of falling question in wither place, but in both I have been asked, "Have you fallen in the past six months?" Why yes, I have. But I don't consider it a sign of aging since I have a long history of falling on a regular basis since I was a toddler. That's what I tell myself.

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    1. Well, if you've been falling for that long, I wouldn't worry about it at all. If they asked about cuts and bruises, I'd be a poster child. I'm always nursing a slit in my skin or a bump somewhere on my body.
      a/b

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  3. I have two friends who are currently recuperating from falls. One so bad that she will need surgery when the swelling goes down. I also HAD two friends who fell and those falls led to their deaths. So, yes, falling is to be feared.

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    Replies
    1. And surgery involves anesthesia which is less than wonderful for us at this age. I always felt that G'ma's fall here in Tucson was the beginning of the end for her.
      a/b

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