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Published: Saturday, 3/27/2010

After the fall, a lesson is learned

“Follow your instincts and feel internal rhythms more keenly. You don't want an unfocused effort to sap your strength at this time.”

That was the horoscope for Leo on Monday morning when I turned on the computer. I rarely miss a day reading my horoscope, and always hit the delete button as soon as I'm finished. I take the daily predictions about as seriously as I do the messages in Chinese fortune cookies. With a little concentration and twisting you can make most readings fit your activities and personality.

Then Monday's advice about feeling “internal rhythms” and having strength sapped out of the old body if our effort is not focused hit me literally.

And, so dear readers, rather than write about springtime, the animals, or my discontent with retail rewards programs, the focus of this column is about falling down the stairs. The internal rhythms are on high idle, believe me.

Five hours after reading the horoscope and wondering what it really meant, I took a tumble down the basement stairs. Fortunately I only fell three steps onto a landing and against the corner of a shelf and a concrete basement wall. Now I have a whole new attitude toward those things people wear on their necks and scream, “I've fallen and I can't get up.”

The pain was so severe I was certain both hips, both shoulders, my back, and chest were all broken. I am thankful to report nothing is broken, but as I write this Monday evening, I keep thinking tomorrow is bound to be a real dandy when more bruised areas wake up to be counted.

Therese, my friend and helper, was here, thank goodness. Before my fall she had asked what she could do to help me and I said, “Nothing makes me happier than a clean kitchen floor.” After that suggestion she was scrubbing the floor when my rubber-soled shoes slipped on the wet metal strip on the top step and in seconds I was down.

It almost seems like the fall was destined. On Sunday I clipped an ad from The Blade for an alarm system that includes a personal alarm, and Monday morning, while talking to a friend on the phone as I walked downstairs I said, “I am always afraid my foot will catch in my slacks and I will fall.”

I can't say that I wouldn't appreciate sympathy, but the reason for this report is to prompt other people who live alone to take precautionary measures. There is not always a Therese nearby. In advertising promotions, the fallen subject usually is a senior woman. But there is no age limit on falls, any more than there is to other types of accidents. Falls account for 1 million injuries each year in the United States.

A year after high school graduation, a classmate died from a fall down the basement stairs. She opened the basement door in a house that was new to her. Through the years three other classmates have died in falls, so it is no wonder I had a premonition in a two-story house with a basement. The first improvement I made to the Posey Lake house was having a railing installed on the basement stairs.

But the railing didn't help Monday. Such accidents happen in an instant. I go up and down stairs 10 or more times a day and acknowledge that I have been very fortunate. Rather than rely on good luck, it is imperative that I shop for a medical alert system.

This is not an admission of age, but to saving my age and adding to it.

Mary Alice Powell is a retired Blade food editor.

Contact her at: mpowell@theblade.com.

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