Concussions Happen: Facing My Fear of Injury

Oh the Misery of getting laid-low by a random accident!

Two weeks ago I got a concussion. And a fractured ankle. And a variety of abrasions and contusions.

You might be wondering which of my fears took me down. Was it riding a motorcycle? Or a bike? Ice skating? Downhill skiing?

None of them. I fell on the sidewalk while teaching my outdoor fitness class at Lake Washington Girls Middle School. It was the most mundane thing in the world. You know when people say “don’t worry about (that fill-in-the-blank thing you’re worried about), you could die crossing the street.”?

It was just like that.

I was jogging down a hill, dodging around my students when I twisted my ankle sideways. It was the kind of thing that usually makes you stumble or trip. Not a biggie.

But for some reason, I fell like an oak. My head slammed down on the sidewalk as if it were a just-spiked volleyball. The world went mute.

When I stood up, my middle schoolers took a step back.

“What?” I asked.

“It looks really, really bad” they said.

That’s when I started to feel faint. And clammy. And woozy.

While I got C-scanned and X-rayed and bandaged in the ER, I thought about how my sister, Beth, at this very moment was hiking the Inca Trail, on her way up to Machu Picchu. She and I had spent hours in the Gand Canyon talking about how in the hell she was going to pull off that trip without getting hurt.

What we hadn’t discussed how I would avoid wiping out while jogging down the sidewalk!

The thing is, stupid, random accidents (and illnesses) happen. Not doing stuff that might be awesome, because they might just possibly cause me to get hurt? It seems to me that at 50 I should get over that.

By the way, Beth’s trip went off without a hitch. (Yay!)

Last week I went to see a doctor for a follow-up. He told me I had to chill out, take more Motrin, and let myself heal. And then he said this: “Our bodies are made to be injured. We have to risk harming them or we aren’t really living.”

Whoa, deep…

Words to live by.


photo credit: Misery, Castle Rock Entertainment (1990)

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