My First Fall
Since my rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis and, shortly after, my osteoporosis diagnosis, I knew I had a) a high fall risk and b) a higher chance of complications if I fell (like broken bones).
My balance was sometimes quite off due to chronic sinusitis which made the matter even more complex. But, in 10-plus years, I never took a spill and have managed to keep my feet even when gliding over a slick surface.
Maybe I got a little too confident because it finally happened. I fell a couple of weeks ago (in the middle of January) and it hurt! Yes, I am in a new state, but I’ve lived here before and I know its winters. Apparently, though, I have no frame of reference for its pure ice.
Before, the ice looks like ice! As the temperature warms, there may be slick spots but they still look icy. Now, (danger! Danger!) wet pavement actually means icy pavement.
An accidental fall on black ice
The forecast said it might drizzle (RAIN) a little overnight so I wasn’t too concerned since it was pretty warm for the season. So, the next day, I went out to turn on the car, and the second I stepped foot out of the garage, I fell heavily on my left hip and went sledding into the street.
First, I forgot that even if it’s 50 degrees during the day, the temperature could drop to negatives at night. Second, I didn’t know black ice meant really truly un-seeable ice.
Numbness then pain
It’s been a long time since I felt that amount of pain. My side went numb for a few seconds, which scared me given my new vulnerability of fractures. But soon, the pain doubled.
I just sat there for a few minutes having no idea how to get up or how to move. I wasn’t close to the car and EVERYTHING was ice. (P.S. Thankfully, I did not take my book bag yet because my electronic tablet was in it! Can you imagine adding insult to injury and breaking that??). I did NOT know what to do. Every time I tried to turn myself over, I slid some more. I honestly, thought I’d just sit there until my bottom melted the ice and I just got a hint of traction.
Did I fracture a bone?
Eventually, I got the best of my balance and very slowly returned to the safety of the house. The pain reverberated up into my side and down into my feet. There was so much of it I had no idea whether I had fractured something but I was able to do stairs, so I figured I should be okay.
Oh, did I mention it was the first day of school? I wanted to go to class so I gingerly waddled to my car when a thought struck me: How was I supposed to drive - on ice - when I had just proved I couldn’t walk on it? I had never driven on pure ice and it just did not seem like a risk I should take. So, I skated back inside.
Managing the after effect of the fall
I was mortified. I had just lowered my daily prednisone to the lowest it's ever been and now a fall could trigger a flare. How bad? Time would tell. Interestingly, I did not flare! But, I was nowhere near fine, either.
My hip felt great, but my lower back, ribcage, and foot were not. As I write this article, I still have difficulty sitting up for long periods of time and have to take frequent breaks. And, of course, the rheumatologist’s office is no help whatsoever.
No fractures or a flare
But, all things considered, I really lucked out. I didn't fracture anything and I didn't flare. But, I'm still going to be careful because I do not want to find out the hard way how bad a fall can be.
Have you had a fall? Did you get through it relatively unscathed or was it a bad one? LMK in the comments!
What lifestyle changes have you found to be most helpful in managing your RA?
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