“Why is the ground coming up to meet my face?” I remember thinking as I fainted one day while walking from one classroom to another at university during the Paleozoic Era.
I had it backwards of course. The ground didn’t meet my face, my face met the ground. And it’s nothing whatsoever like that fake fainting you see in the movies or on television, swooning and conveniently falling backwards.
No warning signs preceded that strange experience. No dizziness, lightheadedness, tripping, wooziness or injury. Just “wham” and a face plant.
I compare it, oddly, to my two brief experiences of being in very minor earthquakes. (No I’m not a seasoned quake veteran like you Californians.) When something that’s normally solid and steady and unmoving begins to undulate and sway, nothing makes sense. It’s as if Left trades places with Right, or North wearies of being true and turns into South.
Something in between those two experiences happened to me Sunday evening. It also included that slow-motion effect you see in the movies. That, I can tell you, actually does happen.
My favorite one-year old had woken from her afternoon nap cheerful and ready for play. While carrying her downstairs to the family room the ground under my right foot moved and I had suddenly had nothing underneath me except my left foot, which was behind me and still midair coming down from the last step I’d taken. The right leg sailed forward ahead of my body and the left leg did something the design of the human body never intended. It folded up behind me. My body had no choice but to attempt to follow both legs.
Did you know the laws of physics prohibit motion in two directions at once? There’s a hefty fine for violating that law. And I was about to pay big time.
The only really important part of this whole slow motion scene is that my left arm continued to keep the one-year old secure and unharmed. I’m pretty certain an angel must have caught her because she ended up gently sitting on the stairs, thwap thwap thwapping on her pacifier, completely unphased and a bit curious as to why we were sitting down so suddenly.
Meanwhile I was attempting to make sense of the pain and odd location of various parts of my body. My toe felt turned inside out and resided somewhere under my back. My knee, I was certain based on signals being sent from it to my brain, had no more connections remaining to the leg above or below it. And my hip had skittered across the kitchen floor and lay huddled, whimpering behind the refrigerator.
I wasn’t sure if attempting to move anything seemed prudent. But pretending to be a Russian gymnast or one of those freaky contortionists didn’t seem like a good option either.
Very slowly and with great effort, I convinced my hip to talk to my knee, which coaxed my toe to remove itself from my backside. Then the pain really took hold. Fortunately, I remembered to breath and didn’t pass out or puke or get woozy.
After a few minutes I could move my knee a bit more. It miraculously didn’t seem to be broken or displaced and was, I could see clearly, still attached. The hip just seemed content once again in its normal position and orientation.
The toe felt like it might explode.
An hour later, after some icepacks on the toe, I felt almost normal. The swelling hadn’t gotten too bad and I thought perhaps I’d only sprained it. Eighteen hours later, after some ibuprofen and some restless sleep, the toe looks bruised but hopefully, just needs a few days of rest and elevation. I may end up needing an x-ray of the toe if it doesn’t cheer up in the next few days. But that might not need to happen. Sadly, no long meandering morning walks for this woman for a bit.
As for breaking those laws of physics? Yeah, I’m paying the price. Parts of me I didn’t know existed hurt today. And parts I knew I had but didn’t know could experience pain, also ache.
I’m happy to pay such a price if the favorite one-year old escaped unscathed. We were both blessed not to break anything, not to hit our heads, not to have to deal with blood or mayhem.
Maybe I need the extra R&R&R. (Yes, three R’s.) Maybe it’s the only way I’ll slow down enough to do some reading and writing and resting. Maybe I’ll take a day and watch all three Lord of the Rings movies (extended version) or the entire BBC Sherlock series. Or I’ll just read. And sleep. And let MSH baby me. And take ibuprofen every four to six hours.