Getting a painful lesson in fall prevention

Morning walks in my neighborhood are one of the most enjoyable parts of my day.

I love the coolness of daybreak and the special sightings of the stag and two does that frequent our open space.

I also enjoy my walk because each day at that time I call my mother to catch up with her. Our daily conversations allow us to share our lives with one another. We also reminisce about aspects of my growing up years.

During those years my mom was plenty busy caring for a husband and three kids while I, the oldest child, who was deemed precocious by her pediatrician, was all ears about everything going on around me.

My recollections are that of a child and often add a new perspective to my mom’s memory of those times. We have a lot of fun playing the “do you remember?” game.

During our conversations, my mom reminds me to be careful so that I don’t trip and fall. Little did I know that her cautions were a premonition of things to come.

A few Saturdays ago, my husband joined me on my morning walk. During the walk I was, of course, talking to my mother.

As I walked on the sidewalk between trash cans and the neighbor’s grass, my foot hit a sprinkler head and I fell hard on the concrete, with nothing breaking my fall except the left side of my face.

My husband, who was ahead of me, turned back to see me holding my bloodied face, crying in pain. I asked him to run to a neighbor to get some paper towels and ice while I checked to see if my teeth were intact (thank goodness they were.)

The same neighbors who gave us the ice and towels drove us home.

Arriving home, I was in a lot of pain, so we made our way to an urgent care which, according to its website, had X-ray capability. The staff took one look at me and told me to go to the hospital. They explained that a concussion or brain bleed might accompany a facial injury, and I needed to get checked out for those.

Ten minutes later, we arrived at the emergency room. Within a short time, I was taken for a CT scan to check the damage.

It turns out I fractured the bone under my left eye and a bone on the left side of my nose. I asked why the left side of my face was numb and was told that I had likely damaged a facial nerve, too.

They recommended that I go to eye and nose specialists as a follow-up, which I have done.

While the eye doctor told me my fractured bone should heal fine on its own and my eyesight was not damaged, he cautioned me to not, under any circumstances, blow my nose for six weeks. He explained that the pressure from blowing could open the fracture and trap my optic nerve.

The nose doctor told me that normally they put people under anesthesia, but then he said, “Well, let me look. Now hold still,” and he proceeded to crack my nose back into place. The pain was excruciating, and I was in shock.

Right or wrong as the treatment may have been, having had both fractures looked at and attended to, I am now in the long process of recovery.

I am sharing my story to help my ER physician, Dr. Cardenas. She explained that she really wanted to create a public service announcement for older adults about being cautious and aware of their surroundings while walking, as she sees too many seniors with fall injuries each month.

Going forward, I plan to save my phone calls to my mother for the comfort of my living room couch so that I can fully concentrate on my surroundings while walking.

I also plan to follow the advice in this article: https://www.ncoa.org/article/falls-prevention-community-5-point-checklist-navigating-neighborhood

Falls are likely as people age, but often seniors do not acknowledge or recognize their fall risk. I didn’t.

Dr. Cardenas, here is my PSA: Pay attention, folks, and do all you can to prevent falls. It’s important for your health.

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Categories: Elder HealthNumber of views: 464

Tags: Fall prevention

Andrea GallagherAndrea Gallagher

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