On Falling

Last Wednesday, I fell, clipping my left foot on a metal manhole cover I was abruptly airborne. Time stood still; yet it was all over in seconds. In slow motion my left heel connected with the obstruction, I stepped forward on my right foot and then the realisation that I was falling, that my balance was gone, lost. In these moments I could see clearly the black tape on the grimy shop window next to me, the stoney pavement beneath me, Kath’s expression of horror and surprise and Lily in her stroller. I seemed to fly two or three metres from the manhole cover – I was airborne. Did my yoga brain take over and let me find a way to come down to earth without too much damage?

I landed on my left knee, and right wrist and hand. My body came down in such a way that there was not a mark on my clothes. Not so for my knee and wrist, both bruised and the knee grazed. Lying sprawled on the pavement, I howled like a baby; great, heaving sobs almost uncontrollable. What went through my mind before I struggled to my feet and Kath held me and comforted me? She wanted me to stop crying and I wanted to cry more.

These are some of the thoughts: osteoporosis – a broken hip or arm, can I walk? Christ almighty, I have to pack up and move house next month, how can I, if my arm/leg is in a cast or I’m in hospital with a broken hip? How will I do yoga? Kath thinks I’m a clumsy old fool. Other people fall, not me. What did I trip over, I can’t see anything, maybe it was my own feet. Can I get up? I’m numb, not in pain, when will the pain cut in? And so on and so forth. How can so many thoughts fit in such a short space of time? No wonder meditation is difficult.

Why didn’t I break any bones? Strange, seeing as I have been diagnosed with osteoporosis. But it was the shock, the recognition of my vulnerability, that has been the hardest to accept. The feeling of being disoriented, bewildered, not in control of this amazing body that has held up so well for the more than 65 years. Now I wonder, have I ever been in control? How deluded, how arrogant.

Kath said I made an amazing landing, a “good save” or words to that effect. My doctor (Yuti) checked my wrists and elbows for fractures. I went to see her for a safety check (to back up the report I wrote to the Fremantle Council’s Occ Safety and Health Officer – should I need it in the future).

I was diagnosed with osteoporosis about five years ago. The diagnosis has not bothered me particularly; I am strong thanks to regular yoga practice that includes the Five Tibetans. My flexibility is good and I incorporate weight-bearing and balance asana in my daily practice. Is this what saved me from fracturing my bones?

On Falling