Watch your step!

I’m fortunate that I haven’t suffered too many accidental injuries so far in life. Of those that I have experienced, 90% of them were my own fault. Most of those injuries happened during my youth and I blame them on the carelessness of youth, taking too many chances and the mistaken attitude that I was indestructible.

As the years pass, most of us learn from past mistakes, realize we are not indestructible and try to reduce our risks. I thought I was doing a fairly good job of that adult way of thinking….Until Dec. 30th.

In my own home, gingerly walking from one room to another, not looking where I was going, (brain on auto-pilot) I tripped over an object in the hallway while rounding a corner, lost my balance and fell backwards onto the edge of an end table. The back of my rib cage hurt badly and within hours, that night, I realized the ibuprofen wasn’t helping with pain. It was late, so I called a taxi and headed for St. Mike’s.

The fine staff at St. Michael’s emergency room got me into a bed within an hour. By now, the pain was excruciating. It hurt just to breathe. Following several x-rays and a chat with the doctor, I was diagnosed with four broken ribs. Then, she performed an ultra-sound to make sure the broken ribs didn’t puncture any vital organs. She prescribed oxycodone, which I understand can be highly addictive and is prescribed only for medium to severe pain. Even this stuff didn’t seem to help much. If I stayed still, though, it did allow me to get some sleep.

So, I’m just now returning to work after a week at home. A couple of days ago, I began to cut back on the pain reliever. The pain is more manageable now, although my breathing is still shallower than normal, which affects my speech a bit. However, my family doc says all pain should disappear in a few more weeks and that I’ll be fully healed after about 6 or 7 weeks.

Having this accident for me actually has a positive side. It’s a reminder to keep one’s brain engaged at all waking moments. I think many of us gradually return to risky behaviour. I know I have. Take a fender-bender, for instance: One tends to drive more carefully and be more attentive following a crash. Then, the memory gradually fades and we return to old driving habits.

If experience is the best teacher, I hope I’ve learned my lesson. For 2011, I’ve resolved to look where I’m going. That shouldn’t be too much to ask of my brain. Duh.

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