After the Fall: 14 Lessons Learned
Every experience, good and bad, teaches us how to live our life going forward regardless of age. My terrible slip on ice and the breaking of two bones in my arm and wrist has certainly provided a good supply of life lessons--and this time past age 67. I hope you never need these but just in case here are 14 that stand out boldly:
- Walk carefully, always, but also look down to check out the ground, whether rough pavement or snow and if ice lurks beneath be extra careful. Wear the right shoes for the conditions. I am now getting metal cleats for my boots.
- When walking, don't be on your cell. I wasn't but multitasking makes noticing where you’re going harder.
- Find the best possible ER and doctors. Initially, I wasn't treated properly; too many anatomical reductions or attempts at bones moved back into place. "You get one try," said my top-notch surgeon. (This is addressed in a prior blog.)
- Ask a doctor friend for a referral for the best to do the surgery. I went with someone connected with Hospital for Special Surgery in NYC and Cornell-Weill who said I could be operated on with a regional bloc, not general, and would stay over one night. Initially, another doctor said general anesthesia and no overnight stay, which concerned me for pain management. Stay at the hospital that has a low infection rate. You can check this online or ask.
- Have a loved one with you to hear all correctly, ask good questions, and to hold your hand while you wait for surgery, and to be there you come out.
- Don't be shy about asking for pain meds. It's an art not exact science and every person reacts differently. So speak up, which I finally did after a miserable night with only 30 minutes of sleep.
- The hospital staff cares and works hard, so express your appreciation. Two PAs and I became best buds as I tried to be a good sport with all the meds and poking and prodding. Be kind when making requests. And if you’ve received good care, say so when given a hospital survey.
- Take it slowly when released. Focus on exercises and hygiene. I needed to hire a bath lady. I got my hair washed and blown dry to feel and look better.
- Be patient with yourself and others. If you are on meds, your behavior could be mercurial. They may "speed" you up or slow you down. You may even become demanding. Say “thanks” often, and apologize if you mess up.
- Know healing is a process. In my case I had another surgery! So plan some fun stuff as rewards along the way such as good books and funny movies. Pamper yourself with rest and sleep. Sleep helps healing.
- Accept offers of help--company, and food--care package from daughters, friends, soup from a favorite couple, books. Most friends and family will rally with upbeat calls and more. Two friends who heard about my mishap, stood out for their silence. No emails. No note. No card. It's ok to tell them at the right time, "I was surprised and disappointed by your lack of sympathy. Was something going on in your life I should know about that prevented you from contacting me?” Give them time to respond if the friendship is to survive.
- Let your work colleagues know you may need more time. Get any help you can. My computer guru got me Dragon voice activation software and taught me how to use it. I perfected typing with my left hand.
- Keep counting your blessings. This could have been far worse. I could have damaged my head, teeth, hip, knee! My close circle sent their love, prayers and surprises to cheer me up such as a brisket from a favorite non-Jewish friend.
- Find the silver lining. I've been wanting to diet. Here is the best new approach. Eating with my left hand is tough and slows down my food intake. But I will manage since my Fed Ex guy just delivered a food package from my favorite food vendor ever: Zabar's...a gift from the adorable R sisters. Dieting will come but not yet.