On being a klutz

Posted 03.06.09

The upper classes might refer to themselves as accident prone, hypochondriacs blame their semicircular canals, drinkers - well they never indict the drink do they?

Runners accuse their shoes, cyclists, their pedals of all things. And then there is the multitasking driver who always blames road conditions-- even though they were talking business on their cell, turning up the radio, and trying to enjoy their morning coffee all the while trying to keep their car on the road.

I have no idea what my excuse is.

At 61 I am a klutz and have been for as long as I can remember. My body is covered with dents and scars, I have deformed feet and wrists, knees and ankles that don't work so well, and I'm more than a few teeth short.

But this past week has been brutal and I have graduated to the top of the class.

The sidewalks of Oslo, Norway, are notoriously icy. Last week, despite being careful, I did slip and fall but no real damage was done. The next day, however, I thought I'd be clever and flip out my built-in ice cleats to avoid further falls. Prevention. I thought these were the best things since sliced bread.

What I hadn't counted on was that the metal cleats don't have the same relationship with marble as they have with ice.

I walked down two stairs when suddenly both feet went out from under me and I landed on my tailbone, not once but twice as I bounced from one stair to the next.

More embarrassed than anything, I got up and went to work where I had to be at 7 a.m. to set up for a seminar. It wasn't until later, as I sat down for the event, that I realized I must have bruised my tailbone -- very uncomfortable when you have to sit for two hours and really can't get up and leave the room.

By the time it was over, I was so sore, they sent me home and after a couple of days I was able to go back to work -- no biggie, right? Sitting was still a pain but nothing like it had been a few days before.

(Greece always sounds pretty good but it's sounding particularly good just about now...)

Six days after my fall on the ice, I had some errands to run after work -- bakery, cat food, and litter. I went to the bakery first, paid for my bread and in doing so dropped a couple of kroner on the floor.

I bent down to pick them up but, as previously mentioned, my knees aren't what they used to be and so I lost my balance and splat, down I went. A man picked me up. Red-faced, I grabbed my bread and left.

Next stop, the pet store for food and litter -- an uneventful visit.

Just next door to the pet store is a little old-fashioned restaurant that serves the world's best chowder and I thought that was just what the doctor ordered so in I went. I'm pretty well known there, got a great seat and a lovely bowl of chowder.

I was even entertained by two men sitting at the next table. Their conversation was hilarious -- I guess they were going to a movie and felt the service was slow. They actually counted the minutes it took to bring their coffee and were so rude to the wait staff, I came very close to.... But I didn't.

My tummy was full and I, as always after the chowder, was happy. I paid the bill, grabbed my, stuff and left. But in the short time I'd been at Larsen's I guess it had gotten a degree or two colder and the wet granite steps had become icy granite steps.

Yup, you guessed it -- with all my bags and my packsack, I had a little trouble with the door and the moment I got out there, once again, both feet left the ground and once again, I was prone in a place I was meant to be standing.

I don't even know if I passed out -- since it was still only around 5 p.m., there were hundreds of people walking home from work and yet I got the feeling that it took a few minutes before someone stopped to help me.

Well, this sweet man sat with me, asked me my name, the day of the week, and all of those things, made sure I could get up and after a time I walked home -- very slowly.

Once home I thought "I'm home free," put my purchases away, and started answering e-mails. A very good friend thought perhaps I should go to emergency but of course I knew better -- I was fine. I was treating the lump on my head with a bag of frozen peas and felt fine. That is, until about an hour later.

I was at the computer and my vision began to blur, which was pretty spooky. Then I started getting nauseous and thought perhaps I should go to emergency after all. Diagnosis -- Grade 1 concussion (at least I got the least serious one). Treatment -- no reading, no writing, no computer. Bed rest for a day and then I should be able to go back to work.

After a full day in bed with no TV, no computer, and no reading, I got up at 6 a.m. feeling pretty good. I turned on the computer and within fifteen minutes my vision again began to blur and the nausea returned with vengeance. Not such a good sign so the next morning, I called my wonderful doctor and arranged to see him.

He wasn't at all pleased with the emergency ward doctor's diagnosis and because of the trouble with my vision put me on sick leave for ten days or so. And again, no TV, no computer, and no reading.

Television is easy for me to do without -- I can even deal with a few days away from the computer but no reading? That's going to be really tough but there you have it.

I can now use the computer and read, almost to my heart's content but no swimming yet. I'll take what I can get.

I hope to be back at work on the ninth of March -- we'll just have to see but I will tell you one thing for sure: I am going to buy the Lamborghini of ice cleats next week and I'll wear them from October until April or maybe I'll just wear them all year long.

And yet perhaps Greece is the answer -- in particular, Santorini.

Copyright © 2009 Berit Lundh/Log Cabin Chronicles/03.09