I never promised you a cactus garden

As I age I am finding that my body has a magnetic attraction to the ground. By this I mean that it seems to want to rapidly change from an upright position to a supine one. Most frequently the change in position occurs with rapidity, without intent or volition. I have fallen on my back several times while playing pickleball, retreating to hit a ball over my head, I was never sure if I lost awareness of falling or my feet becoming tangled. On one occasion my head hit the ground before my butt. I endured a sharp rap on the back of my head, leaving a pool of blood that alarmed the other players. Paramedics were summoned, examined me and suggested an ambulance trip to a local emergency room. I declined, not wanting to seem a weakling. Silly me. I had a concussion. Since I am fairly intelligent and perceptive, subsequent backward falls were executed by landing on my butt first, reducing the impact on my head but not eliminating them. Additionally, I have landed on either side of my body at various times while playing pickleball, each time hitting some area in my head and other body parts. I have skinned both knees, elbows, hands, and other protruding parts of my body. Each event found me laying on my back.

Lest you think that I discriminate against positioning, or fall to gain sympathy, several weeks ago I was gardening alone and turned to retrieve my shovel only to find my self watching the ground rapidly approach my face. Thump – face plant. Luckily the ground was earth and not concrete this time. Still my face looked as if a soccer team had used it for practice, nose scarred, cuts on the forehead and chin, even an earlobe was marked. The sunglasses became useless, a lens was cracked. I began spitting dirt and blood. All told I would rather land on my head than my face. It’s much less scary.

Last night I discovered that I can also fall from a prone position. I am a man of many talents. I am not sure how to describe the event except that I was sleeping soundly when I saw the floor rising rapidly towards me. I rarely ever dream and have never dreamt of falling. I suspected that if I would dream of falling it would be falling from a great height not 2.5 feet. For a period it felt that I was in suspended animation. There was enough ambient light that I could see clearly. Then the floor rose up rapidly and WHACK right in the snoot. In the next three instances I brilliantly surmised that “Oh don’t say it!! I fell out of bed.” Checking if all my faculties were intact I gently activated my rising mechanism, both hands on the floor, right knee, right foot, butt, left knee, steady right arm on the bed, lift, return to bed. As I arose I yelled “I fell out of bed.” as quietly as possible, not wanting to wake my partner. She didn’t stir.

Not sure how it happened. My best guess is that somehow I developed the ability to levitate and when I was above the bed realized my position thus breaking the spell. As a result I fell. Can’t think of any other rational explanation.

Several weeks ago my Girlfriend finally convinced me to try bicycle riding. Now one would think that with my recent history of difficulty staying on my feet, especially when moving, this would be an idea that had danger written large. But I reluctantly agreed. I agreed even though I had not been on a bicycle for over 45 years, and then only on a coaster bike.

Girlfriend has several bikes, all multi-geared vehicles, with caliper brakes. All foreign to me. She declared that she would ride with me to give me confidence. Funny, all the pickleball players around when my disasters struck were around but didn’t give me the confidence. Yet I took her up offer. Actually I thought how hard could it be? We rolled the bikes out of the garage and into the street. The moment of decision struck.

I took the bike and begun to mount it. Couldn’t get my leg over the bar. Girlfriend instructed me to lay the bike at an angle. Hmmm. If I did that the bike so I would get over the bar the bike would almost be flat on the pavement. My surgically repaired knees don’t bend well. My sciatica prevents my hip from rotating well. There are no curbs to provide height to stretch over the bar. Frustrating. The seat was elevated at least nine inches and the rear fender had a devise for holding stuff on it. Eventually, I found that if I could arrange my body so that I lay nearly parallel to the street across the bike’s bar with the big toe of my left foot on the ground I could swing my right leg over the bar. Success. Then came the task of putting my right foot on the pedal. Finally moved the pedal so I could put my foot in the starting position.

Girlfriend instructs me to push off with the big toe of my left foot spontaneously with pushing the right pedal down and moving to sit on the seat. Say what?? Try following directions. Doesn’t work. More encouragement. Try again. Moved 10 feet. Wobbled and needed to start over. Took a breath. Gathered all my resources. Finally up on the thing moving. Unsteady but moving forward.

I am moving but unsteady. I am steering all over the place but remaining upright. Why are these tires so damn skinny? Yikes here’s a speed bump. Whew made it over. Finding that if I go fast I can control the bike better. Hate the seat, damn thing keeps interdicting my privates. Hurts. The around the block is one mile. As I get closer to the house I feel better about getting off. I am still intact. Here’s the house, slow down. Put rakes on. No Brakes!! Forgot. Squeeze the calipers. Slowing to near stop. Put my left foot down but can’t reach the ground. Here comes the ground again. #^$%@* Face down on my left side beginning to slide on the sidewalk, across some stones, into the CACTUS GARDEN . As I come to a full stop I see pointy vegetation inches from my nose. Girlfriend and neighbor are laughing.

Laugh if you will but I think I did well considering it was 45 years of not riding a bike. I consider that since I had no head injury the event was a raging success. Besides I bought a bike that fits me. I’ll be riding better.

Published by Jack's Mind 15 degrees off center

I am 73 years old retired from Amy Civil Service. Widowed and Legally Separated. B.A. MBA, and ABD. Living in Stockton, Ca. I moved here 24 months ago from Washington State. I knew no one and am just now finding my footing. Time to make amends.

One thought on “I never promised you a cactus garden

  1. Jack, you are such a good sport. I’m impressed with your willingness to please Girlfriend. I hope it’s mutual!


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