Saturday, December 06, 2008

Fear of Falling

If you're past a certain age, you probably have seen and remembered those ads: "I've fallen, and I can't get up!" They promote a service providing buttons for senior citizens to push for help in emergencies. I used to laugh at those ads, but yesterday, I could have posed for one of them. Yes, I fell down, and no, I couldn't get up.

My physical therapist says it takes at least one good leg to get up from the floor, and so far, after two knee replacements, I don't have even one good leg. I wasn't paying attention, and I fell getting out of my recliner.

At first I was in a state of panic: would I die right there on my living room floor? After I calmed down, I realized that I could slide across the floor. I tried to reach some support that would allow me to get up, but alas, I couldn't get up no matter what I tried. Then I realized that I might be able to reach one of my telephones on a living room table, and I finally did. My phone directory was conveniently located on the same table.

So whom to call? If I called 911, I'd get a response, but in a building without a doorman, that might bring a fireman with an axe to open my door (as it did years ago) and a trip to an emergency room. I wasn't in need of medical help. I just needed to stand up.

I finally decided to call Laurie, a helpful old friend who lives fairly close. She still has keys to my building and my condo after helping me out while I was in the nursing home. It was only six a.m., but I called her. She promised to come, and she did. Laurie is a retired nurse, so I knew that if anyone could help me get up, she could.

Unfortunately, Laurie is not a large, powerful person, and she couldn't lift me up by herself. Then I thought of one of my condo neighbors, Cathy, who is a nurse--and an early riser. Laurie knocked on her door, and she came in to help. Between the two of them, I was lifted up and back in my recliner. How grateful I was and am!

That experience made me very shaky; in a bit less than an hour on the floor, I seemed to have lost my confidence that I could take care of myself. A good night's sleep has helped, but I'm now very careful about getting to my feet. I never thought I'd be one of those "I've fallen and I can't get up!" elders.

I guess the message is that while we treasure our independence, complete independence is sometimes impossible. I hope to recover from this knee replacement ordeal, but will I ever be able to lift myself up from the floor again? Getting old is very difficult, and these are trying times for me. Let's hope I have good news to write about soon!

Copyright 2008 by Marlys Marshall Styne


One Woman's Journey said...

I am so sorry about your fall but a blessing someone near by could help. Darlene Costner shares with me a lot and I was concerned about her and did some checking on her and talked to her on the phone yesterday. Ronni shares about her this morning. She fell and broke her hip. Hopefully I continue with health and good bones so I can return to my country home. Heal quickly wishes sent your way.

Pat's Place said...

So sorry about your fall. That is a real problem and one that you might address with your physical therapist. You are probably a candidate for a muscle strengthening program--to help strengthen muscles that you have not used in a long time. I have been in an exercise program designed to help with that and have found it very beneficial. Most fun of all is that I can plop down on the floor and play with my grandchildren and then get myself up again without help. There are ways that you can learn to get up again after being on the floor--and muscles that can be built up to help with that. Inquire around and find out more about that.

Lydia said...

Hi Marlys,
I just left a link to your blog at the "a little red hen's" latest post at

Your sharing so honestly all that you've been through doesn't necessarily fill me with dread for the future, but it really is an awakening to see that future through your eyes.

I'm pulling for you every day!

seniorwriter said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone. I'm slowly recovering my confidence after the fall, and I still dream of walking easily, moving, and getting my life back in order. Stay tuned for future reports.

Lauren Truby said...

Glad to hear that you are still going strong. Really when you think about it, your falling is more a product of progress than regression. Knees don't replace themselves :0), so when they regain strength you will be stronger and more mobile than ever! Rather than think about the incident as a step backwards, look at it as a small obstacle on the road to progress, which will very soon equate to increased mobility and independence.

I suppose the moral of the story's all about perspective :0)
That silver lining is there, you just have to look for it!

Can't wait to see you at Christmas!

seniorwriter said...

Thanks, Lauren. I am looking forward to Christmas, although the trip will be difficult. I hope seeing all of you will make me more cheerful and optimistic. This whole thing is surely taking a long time!