Sunday, May 11, 2014


I've been missing the past week because I fell. If you don't like to look at bruises, this isn't going to be a post for you.

If you're a certain age, you remember the "I've fallen and I can't get up" line which advertised an electronic monitoring system for seniors. I have had elderly friends all my life and the one thing they mentioned when they reached a certain age was how falling was a death sentence. Your body just never recovered. I vowed that I would never live my life being afraid to tumble. How horrible it would be to be that afraid. Having fallen in 2011 and then again in January, although that was into a snow bank, I suddenly came to the realization that I had reached the "scared to fall" age. And then I fell.

I was working. It was an inspection. The reception area had two kinds of ceilings, drop and drywall. I went to the location where the drywall ceiling was because, if there were any defects, they would be in that area. What I didn't know and no one told me, was there was a step up of about 3 inches. Everyone in the office knew it. The carpet was a dark green and black fleck. I looked around but never saw the step and it wasn't illuminated well. My foot hit the step and I tipped right over, landing on my right knee.

My right knee and I have a somewhat stormy relationship. I hurt it in the 1970's while crawling across the living room floor. It swelled up and there was a thought that I tore something. Those where the days when knee surgery involved slicing the thing open, seeing what was wrong, maybe fixing it, and sewing it back up. If you ever walked normal again, you had an "L"-shaped scar across the knee itself. The days of arthroscopic knee surgery were a decade away. That kind of surgery was not used for teenage girls who may have simply twisted something while crawling across the floor.

Over the years, I have had my share of skinned knees, twisted knees, swollen knees and bruised knees. When I fell in 2011, it never really bruised. It swelled but didn't bruise. Instead, fluid collected behind the knee cap to the point that walking was an exercise in endurance. Once I had the knee drained, I felt like I'd been given a new lease on life. Then things started to ache again and I worried, at the beginning of 2012, that the fluid was returning. Was draining going to be my way of life from now on? Nope, it was merely rheumatoid arthritis.

January's fall didn't cause trauma. I tripped getting out of the Jeep and landed, face first, of course, in one of the piles of snow from all the shoveling I'd done. Other than my ego, nothing was damaged. But I did start to feel that falling was something to be scared of. You reach a certain age and there is no "bouncing back". Any sort of elasticity you used to experience is not a part of your body anymore. The collision with the ottoman leaves a quarter-size bruise on your shin or you can't remember where you got that quarter-sized shin bruise.

I couldn't, after I fell, stop what I was doing, go to my mom's because, of course this would happen when I was out of town, and put ice on it. I had to carry on. I did dash to her house once I was finished and she has the most amazing dog-eared ancient ice bag that we quickly used to cover my knee. I raised it up and continued reading the book (reviewed below) that I'd brought along. The next day, once I finished the rest of my inspections, I filled the car with gas and drove straight home. I had grand thoughts of seeing my brothers after work, but the only thing on my mind was getting home to ice, ice and my own bed, where I could prop up the knee and the foot.

By Sunday, the bruise had spread all across the knee and down the leg.

On Monday, the whole knee was purplish blue. And swollen. Holy cow. Think cantaloupe size. I tried to wrap it, but discovered that I couldn't get my pants on over the wrapped swollen knee. I tried to elevate it at work, but the way my desk sits in my office, I have to twist my torso to do my work. My gait has been radically changed and my hips will ache at the end of the day.

Honestly, I did not think I banged it up as badly as I have. I had a regularly scheduled RA appointment on Thursday and the swelling was easing in the knee. The bruising was subsiding. I have always been able to bend the knee, although only to 50%. I had gone down the basement stairs only once, to get the clean pants I knew were there, but I iced and elevated when I could. I tend to sometimes be too independent for my own good. I should have, just this once, used the valet parking considering where I had to park in the lot to get to Outpatient Services.

My rheumatologist was very worried. An x-ray was taken along with the regular blood work that I anticipated. The x-ray came back with nothing chipped or broken. She was worried a hematoma had built up behind the knee cap but there's no evidence of that. She felt something squishy and tried to drain it. I was expecting something like the first time my knees were drained. Oh lordy, not by a long shot. This was excruciating pain. She got blood not that mustard colored stuff I'd seen before. It's bruised and it's slowly, slowly healing.

The other thing that happened was a bruise at the spot where my blood was drawn.

Now, I have had blood drawn for years, decades even, to test for any number of things. I do not remember ever having a bruise at the drawing site. Maybe it's part of the trauma my body is going through. I don't know. The bruise is about an inch long by a quarter of an inch wide. I'm kind of embarrassed by it but putting a band-aid over it only draws attention to it. I, um, don't have any "flesh" colored band-aids. It's minions or nothing. I'm opting for the nothing.

My doctor called an orthopedist who said I need to get a knee immobilizer and wear it for a week. I looked at this thing and thought, "What the...?" This is well and good if you are living with someone who can drive you to work, do the laundry in the basement because you're out of pants for work or go to the grocery because you happen to be out of detergent to do that laundry. I've never been able to teach the cats to drive and neither one of them likes crowds to begin with. I'm also not interested in spending $50 on something I will wear once, even if insurance might cover it.

The more I thought about this, the more irritated I became and the more determined I was to find a solution that worked for me. I went to CVS and found a stretchy knit brace. I can't quite get it over my swollen leg yet, but it will be fine once the swelling drops a bit. I have at least 5 ace bandages, so I wrap the knee in the morning with a couple of them. Icy Hot cream was recommended and I've used that not on my knee but on my hips. It helps ease the ache from sitting or walking "funny". This has been the best purchase, however.

This is an adjustable gel wrap made by TheramaCare.

Once this one gets expended, I'm going to get another to keep in the freezer, assuming I don't still need it. It's lightweight and has 4 pockets containing freezable gel. It wraps easily around my knee, applying cold where I need it. The minute you mention you need an ice pack, people tell you to use frozen peas because they will conform to the body contours. Yes they will, but I love peas and think that's a waste of a vegetable. This is more expensive, than a bag of frozen vegetables, but it won't turn to mush after the 4th freezing.

So here I am, one week from the event. The swelling and bruising has traveled down the leg.
I was kind of surprised it would do that but I was informed that's normal. My right foot is swollen and tomorrow I'm taking my slippers to work because I don't have a pair of shoes that I can wear all day and be comfortable. I went to the grocery and CVS and did laundry yesterday. Then, I slept most of the afternoon. I find that I am more tired and I'm not sleeping as well as I could be. The knee hurts at night and wakes me up when I roll over. I am meticulous about where I go in the house. If I have to get up, I make sure I do a number of things while I'm up.

My doctor sort of scolded me. "You have to be careful," she said. I was rather hurt. There was a slight implication that I hadn't been careful. I looked at her and said, "I didn't want to fall. I was careful. You think this is fun?" She looked at me and I could tell she realized that she hadn't phrased her comment correctly. I'm not sure she needed to even say this in the first place. It's not that I will go around trying to trip and fall. She patted my arm and said, "I know. I know. You are careful." None of us who have reached this age and have endured a fall would go out of our way to throw ourselves against the ground, even for a physics experiment.

This is where I have been the past week, nursing a badly bruised knee and leg. I couldn't have a cat scan because every time Pilchard jumped up on the leg, the pain was too much. She was her diva self so when I'd try to get her to lie down, she wanted to stand. I've been so frustrated, too, because there are things I want to get done, things I need to get done, like cleaning litter boxes, but standing on the leg is painful. I'm told it will take 6 weeks to completely heal. Well, I'm not wearing shorts until July, that's for sure. And then I need to get into a walking regimen which will help me bounce back a bit better.

Still, I have reached the age where a fall is a life-altering event. I don't want to fall. It scares me, really scares me. It's going to take me a bit to get over this, mentally as well as physically.

Beverage:  Dr Pepper


1 comment:

  1. Yikes! That is a BIG bruise :o
    Being of a certain age myself, I understand about falling.
    I hope you gave that place a big FAIL for not posting warning signs!
    I cannot even begin to imagine that pain or inconvenience.
    I do hope the pain will pass quickly even if the bruise remains.
    Giving you a virtual bug!