I stood at the top of the steep stone steps assessing the hike down to the lake. I had not done it unassisted in many years. I had two friends with me who are also disabled.
It was a picture perfect summer day. The dock on the lake beckoned. We had put on bathing suits and sunscreen. We packed bags with water, snacks and towels.
As I stood there, I knew it would be a mistake to lean on my friend to walk down. I hate to turn back. Both friends were far ahead of me. I stood still.
Maybe I just needed a semi steady shoulder to hold to get going down the first step and I would be fine. Amelia slowly hiked up to where I stood frozen with fear.
She stood next to me on my functioning ride side. I held my cane with my left hand and put a hand on her shoulder. I took a deep breath.
I took the step. We both fell so fast we were barely aware of what was happening until we were both on the ground. Pamela heard our screams from the bottom of the hill and looked up to see us tumbling down.
I didn’t move for a few seconds as I took stock of how much damage my body had sustained. In my mind, I had many broken bones. In reality, I was actually mostly okay. I looked over at Amelia who said she was ok, also.
Pamela hiked back up the hill. She told me she had seen me do a backward somersault after I hit the ground. I hadn’t done that since I was on my high school gymnastics team. I had no recollection of going head over heels, but like I said, it happened fast.
Now, I was on the ground on a steep hill wondering how I would get up without falling again. I reached for my cane and used it to drag the bag with my towel in it over to where I could reach it. I placed the towel near my knees so I could use it as a cushion against the dirt and rocks underneath.
Pamela stood downhill and braced my foot from sliding downhill. I was able to push up onto my knees first and lean uphill. I stood up slowly and was deeply relieved to see I apparently had no serious injuries.
I walked straight back into the house. Pamela and Amelia said that I ran. I was so scared I think I just thought I would be safe in the house.
That night, I developed an enormous bruise on the thigh I fell on. I iced it with gratitude for having dodged a bullet.
The bruise was the biggest I had ever seen and quite painful, but I’m still not sure how I was so lucky to not break any bones because I have osteoporosis, as does Amelia.
The crash propelled me into action for finding a contractor to install a handrail on the steps. I asked to have one installed 18 yeas ago when we built the house, but my husband never got around to it.
In hindsight, I knew it was a bad idea to attempt the hike without an able body around to help, but it was my stubborn resistance to turning back that ultimately got me in trouble. I know I’m lucky to have learned this lesson with only a bad bruise to show for it.
Thank you for reading :)