On May 28, I blithely strolled the streets of Chicago and stepped in a missing sidewalk square. My right toe caught the edge as I stepped out, and momentum carried me forward. I lunged several steps, trying to regain my balance, but my shoulder bag (with my iPad and other weighty items) threw me off balance. All 230-ish pounds of me crashed in a face-down baseball slide, arms outstretched like Superman, onto the ChiTown pavement.
Credit: Sandro Giordano (Instagram)
Fortunately my husband was only a step or two behind, and stayed with me as the dizziness of shock dispelled. Eventually he pulled me to my feet with my left arm (I protect my right arm after radiation damaged its nerves) and he steadied me as we wandered to our hotel, followed by a solicitous street sweeper who insisted the pavement would be repaired immediately.
Heck of a way to end our anniversary celebration, much less start a five-day conference (ASCO) in which I daily log 3-4 miles of walking.
At the hotel, I discovered I’d skinned my bare left elbow as well as my right kneecap (despite being covered by jeans and compression hose), and my shoulder hurt. I hadn’t noticed any pain before. I wondered aloud if my neuropathic tootsies perhaps contributed to the fall, then applied bandaids over the raw skin and iced the joints. The iPad seemed unfazed.
The next morning, my knee was bruised, but supported my weight and allowed me to walk comfortably. However, my shoulder didn’t want to move or be touched. Putting on a bra became an Olympic challenge, only slightly more difficult than pulling on pants and a t-shirt. I didn’t use the arm much for the rest of the week.
Two days after we returned home from Chicago, I saw my primary care provider. He said the knee was healing, but suspected a rotator cuff tear in my left shoulder. An orthopedic specialist ordered an MRI.
The good news: the shoulder shows no torn tendons or muscles, just a bad bone bruise, tendon strain, and a ton of inflammation. I came very close to breaking my shoulder (the socket does have a tiny crack), but no surgery is necessary. The shoulder gets four weeks rest in a sling, then physical therapy.
The bad news: since I’m on warfarin, I can’t take anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), and I can’t have a cortisone shot to reduce the inflammation because the bone won’t heal properly. I can have Tylenol and, if I need it, Vicodin (which, thankfully, my clinical trial allows me to take).
To celebrate, I bought myself a rolling case for my PC, and washed sports bras to wear the next few weeks.
Yet (despite my dramatic retelling) the entire episode seems no more disruptive than a scratch. I will recover. Life goes on, with only a temporary adjustments in activities and few hours lost in the clinic. Compared to cancer, this is a minor bump in the road. Or a dip in the sidewalk.
So what if pavement diving isn’t my best event? I’m damn awesome at living.