“Head Erect and Tail Over the Dashboard!”

A week ago, early in the morning as grandson Cameron was sailing off to school on his bike, in response to my calling after him, “Have a marvelous day!” the young scholar waved and called back, “Have a marvelous day!”

Surely I would. All was indeed marvelous with my world. After most of October toughing it through three full-blown cases of COVID—plus one rebound—the next day was Bill’s much-anticipated Frank Capra class on American Madness...I was daring to think about plotting a new novel…I had only one more suitcase to unpack from our trip to New York (the one that gave us COVID), and then the bedroom would be more or less in order…

So I tucked her obedience collar on Uschi (our four-year-old eighty-eight pound German Shepherd daughter), zipped up my puffily jacket (46 degrees outside), called to Dad, “We’re off!” and started for our morning-mile-walk along the edge of the continent.

I’d been listening to Where the Crawdads Sing, a novel I greatly admire, the story was near the end, I excitedly tucked in my earbuds, crossed the street, stepped up on the curb, happily pressed forward…

I can still see the image of my right foot, the old worn-slick black Mephisto tennis shoe, setting down on its next step but too late realizing there was an uneven ridge in the sidewalk and my foot wasn’t negotiating the ridge… could I make it?

Felt myself falling straight forward—no time to thrust out my arms and break the fall. The worst of it was the CRUNCHING SOUND my forehead and nose made as my head slammed against the cement. Lordy. I felt so stupid.

Best get up. But there was nothing to hold on to.

Friends I’ve told this story to asked, “Didn’t anybody stop and help you?” My dears, on our bucolic street at 8:15 in the morning only the grey tiger-striped cat owned by two ladies of diametrically opposed political opinion (but their cat is dear) was out and about.

When Bill and I first began going to CrossFit, our coach annoyed me with repeated lessons on How to Get Up Off the Floor. At the time I thought, “This is silly. I can get up off the floor—anyway, I’m not ever going to end up on the floor.” Now my nose was Jackson Pollacking the sidewalk with ruby droplets (I confess I was struck by the brilliance of my blood), Uschi’s leash was tightly wrapped around my left hand while her dear face kept poking and peering at me (German Shepherds need to assess everything that’s going on at every moment), and I had to get up.

I took a deep breath, gathered my forces, took another deep breath, stiffened my resolve, did what our annoying-at-the-time coach taught me to do: planted my arms…no idea what I did with my legs but after a couple of scrambles I righted myself. Staggered fully to attention. I was that pleased.

But underneath was so ANNOYED. Dumb dumb dumb.

I recrossed the street—my left knee hurt sort of—calmly walked into the house, told Bill I thought I’d best go to Urgent Care—told him what happened–thought I should find out about my nose. My husband was uncharacteristically still in his robe and slippers and as much as I would have loved his company, I was anxious to find out what I’d done. My car keys were in my hip pocket, I gave Bill  a kiss and Uschi’s leash, grabbed my purse, breezed out the door.

Urgent Care took me straight in, everyone was lovely. X-rays showed I’d fractured my nose and my left patella (kneecap). The excellent physician advised that since I’d hit my head and I’m on a blood thinner (once upon a time a stressful situation induced a deep vein thrombosis, so I’m happy about the Xarelto) I should have a CT scan to check for a brain bleed. Really?

Bravery wearing thin, I drove back and got Bill. Fortunately Rav4 driving is with the right leg.

By 1:45 p.m for a mercy, we learned there was no bleeding.

So in aspects of luck I did have a marvelous day.

Cameron come home from school was very dear…he did indeed have a fine day. Marvelouser than mine, I’m sure.

The adventure taught me I cannot multi-task when I’m walking. No listening to a book. Damn shame.

I know there is a school of thought that says when you’re out in Nature, you should give full attention to the sky, the birds, the trees, the plants, God’s beauty–not be distracted by some human’s words trailing through your ears.

I heartily agree. In theory. In practice, I’ve been walking and listening to books for over forty years—I began with cassette tapes and a Walkman. Such an education. Sad to say I was far less fragile then.

But as you can see, I’m much blessed. It could have been worse. When I mentioned to the doctor that I’d heard when an old woman fractures a hip, it can be the beginning of the end, he said, “You didn’t fracture a hip in this fall because of the gym–you have a strong core.” I told this to our coach—and thanked him for teaching me how to get up off the sidewalk.

More good news: yesterday the EENT doc said my nose needs no repair.

The orthopod fitted me with a monster steel brace and said all my kneecap needs is not to bend my knee for four weeks. Never knew a kneecap‘s function is to permit the knee to bend. In the course of a day, not bending a knee takes maneuvering. Ingenuity. So interesting that a gesture you’ve done without thinking all your entire life is suddenly prohibited…how that changes just about everything you do. A challenge. Good for the brain. I guess.

As is my husband’s wont, Bill has been boundlessly kind and helpful. Last week’s Capra class was super. Tomorrow he’ll show and illuminate Capra’s The Bitter Tea of General Yen with Barbara Stanwyck. Extraordinary film.

Everyone’s been dear. I’ve had Get Better notes from friends from disparate periods of my life, greatly cherished.

Except for worrying that I’ll bend my knee (and perhaps need surgery), only nuisance is that I want to collapse into bed about 6:00 o’clock (instead of 10:00). I understand my body is busy mending itself. I deeply appreciate that. Feeding it lots of protein. Took away its Sauvignon Blanc…pity. Back to non-alcoholic ginger beer.

Mostly, I’m trying with all my might and main not to again be Old Lady Witless.

This takes more concentration than I’ve routinely given to my Running Around Life.

But there’s ever the gallant pioneer’s maxim I learned at my grandmother’s knee: “Head erect and tail over the dashboard!”

Gratitude. Stout heart. Good cheer. No whining.

Did I mention gratitude?

4 Comments. Leave new

  • Sylvia, Your ability to maintain good spirits in the face of–what shall I call it?–ALL THIS is remarkable. Keep that knee unbent and charge forward. You always do.

  • Well, I shall commiserate with you. Having recently somersaulted off the next to the bottom step at my sisters house, coming from down upstairs and planting myself squarely on rib number six in the back. Evidently the rib was not happy about being bashed so it decided it was going to punish me and allowed itself to be broken. Amazing how life teaches us little lessons that we really didn’t want to learn.


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