Dancing With the Sidewalk

If you live in New England, you know how long and difficult our winter has been. It’s the end of March, and it’s still cold and windy.

Two days ago, we missed snow in Boston, but it was windy. 40-50 mph sustained winds. As I like to call them, “Small person warnings.”

I had taught the first day of a two-day workshop at a client, had driven to an evening talk. I have a new book out, Manage Your Job Search. This talk was part of the pre-launch promotion.

I parked in a handicapped space, and got out. I took out my briefcase and bag of goodies. I started to walk into the building.

This building is one of those buildings where the architects thought it would be a good idea if the parking was far away from the door. I estimate the closest parking space was at least 20 yards from the door, if not 30 yards. The temperature was about 25 degrees Fahrenheit, so it was really cold with the windchill, because the wind was whipping around at a minimum of 40 mph, with gusts of up to 50 mph. I was cold.

I had trouble walking. I had to bend into the wind. All of a sudden, the wind changed direction. I didn’t. Instead of my body facing the wind, I was now sideways to it. Uh oh. The wind pushed me over. I fell, hitting my head on the sidewalk. (Why is it always my head?) I also hit my shoulder and my wrist, but my head took the brunt of the fall.

Luckily, there are two people who exited the building who helped me stand up and walk into the building.

I gave a great talk. I looked like I hit my head.

At the end of the talk, one of the women there said, “You slurred your words.” I replied, “I have vertigo. I always slur my words.”

She said, “How do you know you don’t have a concussion?” I replied, “I didn’t lose consciousness, and I know what a concussion feels like. I don’t have a headache, and when I looked, my pupils were the same size.” I don’t think it’s a good idea for people to diagnose their own concussions. It’s also bad when you fall enough to know what the signs are.

She said, “I would go to a hospital.”

Here’s the problem. If I go to a hospital, it’s already 8:30pm. I’m tired. I have a workshop to give the next day. I know what they’re going to say. Take ibubrofen, put ice on it. Even if I had a concussion, Mark would have to wake me up every two hours. But I need sleep. I don’t need to be awakened. But that’s not the worst part.

The worst part is that they will ask me, “Where was your husband when you fell?” There is no way they will think I actually fell on a sidewalk. I already washed the dirt away. They will not believe I didn’t freak out. “Normal” people don’t fall like this and not go to the hospital. I don’t want the third degree about Mark. I don’t want Mark to take me and suffer the third degree. It’s a lose-lose situation.

Well, I am more capable than my docs think I am. I have to be. Otherwise, I would never leave the house.

On the other hand, I have to stay safe. I don’t want to fall down all the time. Now, two days later, I look horrible. Yesterday, I looked like I had put makeup on badly. Now I look like I have black eye, and the left side of my face is still swollen. Yech. I do need to do something. It’s time to ask for help.

I already have chosen to not speak in the winter when the possibility of snow is high. Maybe it’s time to ask for an escort from my car into the event when the weather is iffy.

Clearly, it’s time to discuss the previously undiscussable.

I don’t want to dance with any more sidewalks. They don’t dance back. If you, too, are dancing with sidewalks, is it time for you to discuss the undiscussable with someone?

10 thoughts on “Dancing With the Sidewalk”

  1. Thank you for sharing. I wish you a speedy recovery.

    The dynamics of adjusting to capability and circumstance is a difficult problem when the variability of all parts is high.

    One trend I have noticed by distributed open source teams such as IPython, and by authors such as Kevin Kelly, is the use of Google hangouts to have live interactions, without travel requirements. Technology may help all of us to continue to learn from your wisdom, while preserving your capacity to help us.

    1. Evelyn, I have an item on my backlog: investigate video for workshops and talks. It’s a large ToDo :-) I have to spike it and then figure out what the chunks are. So far, I’ve been doing book launching the “old-fashioned” way, with my in-person talks, articles, and emails. Clearly, I need to understand how to do it differently. I don’t scale :-)

      1. Please feel free to contact me if you’d like a sounding board for your Spike. I’m glad to be able to help.

  2. If you’d like to consider Pairing on any of your talks, I’d welcome a chance to partner with you. I won’t lay claim to being an expert at anything but rather a beginner who is always seeking to learn. My offer is sincere. One challenge is as an employee my schedule is not my own. I’m willing to try if you are, understandings the limits of my ability to commit as often as my desires would allow.


    1. Linda, oh, now you are in trouble. You are too smart! I always learn from you! Okay, I will have to take you up on this. We’ll talk, my friend.

  3. Isn’t it great (not) that hospitals report your family to the police? When a child falls and you take him to the hospital, a social worker from a child protection agency visits you the next day to give you the third degree.

    “Normal people” don’t have bumps and bruises. Since when?

    1. Dwayne, right! Normal people do get bumps and bruises. It doesn’t have to be from abuse. It could just be from falling down. It’s hard for people in health care to see that, sometimes.

      When I fell after PSL several years ago, and Esther took me to the ER in Albuquerque, I had a devil of a time convincing the ER staff that Mark had nothing to do with it. Never mind that I hadn’t seen him in a week, that he was in Massachusetts and I was in New Mexico. “The husband must have done it.” What nonsense. I thought they were going to delay my treatment until I confessed. I had nothing to confess. I tripped and fell on Jerry’s floor. It was that simple.

      Sometimes, hospitals make me nuts.

      BTW, Esther deserves “Friend of a Lifetime” award for sitting with me in the ER for about 7 hours while they futzed around. When it was clear my life was not in danger, they took their time.

  4. Johanna, you are a brave and practical woman. Thank you for setting such a great precedent of discussing the undiscussable. Marcy

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