The ticking time bomb dove down the stairs

When I worked at the Lehigh Valley News Group and The Teenager was a tot of two-years-old we referred to as “the wee one,” I stumbled over the cart return at Wegmans after doing some grocery shopping on the way home from the office. The Wee One was with me, as she attended day care literally next door to my office. I would appear in the doorway after nap time, have snack with the kids, and return with her to my office around 3:15 where she would play on the floor beside my desk for about an hour before we went home.

I clearly remember I paid $770 a month for her to attend daycare, where I dropped her off around 7:45 and, as I mentioned, picked her up at 3.

In the Wegmans parking lot, I had removed the Wee One from the cart in the cart return and turned to return to my car– my only new car I’ve ever had a 2000 Saturn SL2. I had wanted a Saturn since they came out, and I was very pleased to finally have one after my series of mid-1980-something Ford Escorts.

I had tripped over the metal rail that supports the cart return and banged up my elbow pretty badly. (My elbows sustain a lot of damage in my falls.) I put the Wee One in the back of the car in her seat, and got into the drivers seat, and turned on the car and the air conditioning. That’s when I started to pass out.

With black spots before my eyes, I dug frantically into my purse. I couldn’t see, so I was merely feeling around for my phone. It was my Nokia flip-phone in the pre-iPhone days. I found it, but couldn’t dial. I hit the recent calls menu and dialed the first number on the list.

It was my friend, Gayle. She called the store, and I still remember the flood of cart attendants and managers that stormed into the parking lot looking for the woman and the toddler in the running car. I stumbled out. They took me, the Wee One, and the groceries into the store and called my in-laws to drive me home. The manager asked if I needed anything and without missing a beat, the Wee One said, “Ice cream.” They didn’t hear her, and she got very annoyed that she didn’t get ice cream.

That was circa-2006.

I tell that story because that was the scariest fall I ever had. The second scariest was when I broke my ankle outside the old Maier’s bread factory and almost passed out sitting on a fire hydrant waiting for my husband to arrive with the car. I was going to say today was the third scariest, but then I remembered the time when The Teenager was in kindergarten and I fell on a bad patch of sidewalk and spit out a tooth.

The most exotic fall I ever had was in Yemen.

The most embarrassing was when I fell in the middle of the Halloween parade in front of the whole damn town. That was a year ago.

But today was another first. My first official fall at Stitch Fix. If you are a regular reader, you already know I’ve been struggling with pain recently. I woke up feeling pretty mobile today, and I was even able to touch my toes at 4 a.m. so I skipped my morning dose of baclofen. I was instructed by the neurologist to take the medicine as needed, and when I saw her last, she encouraged me to take it more. I found myself wondering if the baclofen might be somehow connected to the muscle pain I’ve had.

I had a great day at work. I had another observation with my direct supervisor, which came in at 104%. I laughed loudly with my friends at breaks. I brought Thurston a hard copy proof of his book launching in a couple weeks. I may have eaten too many honey roasted pistachios, but pistachios are delicious. I finished the day at something around 110%.

I gathered my possessions, grabbed my coffee cup, and slung my purse over my shoulder. I trotted toward the door, eager to see my chiropractor at 3:45 pm and hear all about her trip to Vegas for a work-related convention. I stepped out the door, said goodbye to the security guard and took another step across the landing. I stumbled forward. I didn’t have enough space on the landing between me and the stairs– the concrete stairs– to regain my footing. The situation swirled for a minute and I tried to use the momentum to trot down the stairs and regain footing that way.

I failed. I dove down the stairs. Thank goodness my possessions broke my fall. Everyone rushed to my aid. Someone offered me a hand. Someone gathered my metal coffee mug which had rolled away. I reorganized my purse and asked everyone to give me a minute before I stood up, that I was fairly certain I was fine, but I wanted to catch my breath before getting up.

People starting asking the why and how of my fall. I assured them nothing but me made me fall. This is life with cerebral palsy.

My friend Sassy, the same friend who accompanied our colleague who had a heart attack to the hospital, was suddenly there. I notice blood. Sassy helps me find it on my pinky. Our safety manager goes to get me a band-aid. Another leader forces me into the building to file an incident report. I’m annoyed because… well, I was hoping my chiropractor Nicole Jensen could help me figure out my random intense muscle pain.

I sit down. Sassy is with me. One of our managers from second shift is there and looks concerned when she sees it’s me. The safety manager stays. My supervisor comes in. I start to get sweaty and lightheaded. This freaks me out because I’m barely hurt. I try to text my daughter to have her call the chiropractor and I can’t. My former second shift manager does it and we just end up calling The Teenager.

Sassy fans me and brings me a cone of water, but I’m too shaky to hold it. She brings me a water bottle and fans me as I joke and the safety manager delicately cleans my finger and puts on a bandaid. My supervisor starts the incident report. Thurston comes and takes my blood pressure. I’m feeling myself.

They offer to arrange an Uber for me, and to send an Uber for me in the morning.

“I’m okay,” I tell them. And I thank them for bringing me back into the building, because otherwise, who knows what might have happened on the road.

I left with the nurseline phone number. I promise to email my boss and text Sassy when I get home. Once I arrive, I shower. Luckily, no more blood. But there’s a chunk out of my finger and I think my thigh will have a massive bruise tomorrow.

It’s been eight weeks since my last fall. I had falls in November, December and January, so making it eight weeks is good. But I have no idea why it happened.

3 thoughts on “The ticking time bomb dove down the stairs

  1. I was doing a volunteer shift at the banana factory gallery the day of the wegmans fall. I remember it like it was yesterday.

    We could writ a book and call it falling.

    Did I ever tell u about my dally at Kirby? During work. Went down the basement steps flying. I still made it to my appt on time. I was all bloody and NOBODY said a word. By the time I got back to Watson the blood dried the fabric to my clothes. So I tore everything open again at home getting undressed. My ankles and wrists hurt for days.


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