The Incline and Fall

Caged. Animal. Snarling.

We needed the rain. I needed to go out. I find enforced and prolonged stays at home crush my natural soul. Prolonged? Two or was it three days. Pack ready. Breakfast and out.

Carefully I clamber up the first mud bank. I grip the rope. I also wonder why there is an old plastic telephone handset and cable tied alongside. Teal. What purpose does it serve this bizarre landline? Up and round to the foot of the stone steps. Across the catchwater channel some birds have been flitting about recently. Perhaps the rain has trapped some migrants.

I step across. The stone platform is large and wet leaves glisten. I test the footing gingerly. I grip. My small circuit of the fringe begins. Camera ready. I look up. Disappointment. I am almost ready to cross back to the main path. Almost at the bottom of the incline.

Why am I lying here? Where are my glasses and what is the red liquid dribbling onto my trousers. Is that my arm? Is the camera intact and working? At least there is no pain. Perhaps some wet wipes will clean me up. I see the deep grit-covered channel running down my arm. Oh yes, that is blood. I find the disinfectant wipes and start to clean the arm but the blood overwhelms them. Drenched carmine. Still no pain.

I am back across the catchwater. My glasses are fine. The morning exercise group of ladies views me with concern and I am surrounded. Tissues, wet wipes and water appear. Did I know my nose is cut open? No, no surely not. That explains the blood on my glasses. My knees are grazed but really the arm is the worst. The ladies fuss around and swamp me with kindness. Dab dab dab.

Soon I am deemed fit to stumble home. A short walk made long.

I decline the idea of a trip to A&E and after cleaning up again I simply determine to rest. Suddenly the adrenaline fades and the pain surges through my defences. It will pass and indeed my body is so exhausted I later stumble down a hole into deep sleep. By morning my arm is swollen and hot. I concede and head to the hospital. The recovery begins.

I find triumph in defeat. Nothing broken. The scans proclaimed my bones are brittle but they survived intact. Quietly my physio and personal trainer asks how often I have fallen in the last year. Badly? I ask. Just falls…. Well maybe twice badly and a few times more without visible damage. She looks disparagingly at me as if this is not good. She forgets. I am old. I have a bus pass. The hospital gave me healthcare vouchers to help me pay my bill because of course old means poor. What do you expect? I will not give up my exploits. Do not cage me. I will snarl and fight until I am free again.

Day four. The arm is healing. The pain is still there in my back and chest but I managed a walk on the flat today. I am almost ready to venture out to the trails again. Age inappropriate. The words ring in my ears. I will prove you wrong.

Muscicapa griseisticta
Grey-streaked Flycatcher

28 thoughts on “The Incline and Fall

  1. Yikes, Andrew. I know a bit of your pain, just a bit as I have not gashed anything but only bruised the heck out of myself. And I also know how you felt caged as you remember my 3+ months of house arrest. But the good news is that you are on the mend and defiant of age and malady. I’ve made a compromise with the aging thing. I still do what I want but with a bit more caution. And I am delighted, as I approach 75, to know that you don’t consider me elderly. 🙂

    • Apologies Steve. I think I missed this. I’m not seeing notifications. Elderly is what you want it to be. You produce wonderful photography still and if anything I believe the advantages of experience can outweigh the advancing years. I won’t surrender to an arbitrary number just as you haven’t. But the healing takes longer. Almost there.

      • Healing does take longer fo sure. But we do and you have a good attitude about not letting aging get you down. I do have a bit of a harder time getting around but that doesn’t stop me from getting out. I just do a little less climbing with a full pack. Glad you are almost completely healed.

  2. “Age inappropriate” made me laugh, although the damage you suffered certainly didn’t. Age does bring certain issues, but sharp minds can find ways around our bodies’ changing capabilities. Every time I hear a breathless reminder that “the elderly” — i.e., those above 65 — must be protected from the ravages of the world, I think, “Pfffft…” Like you, I find being caged annoying, and do my best to keep to the edges, were potential captors can’t find me.

    I’m glad the healing’s taking place, and it was good to see that you’re at least out on the flats again. I smiled to read that your glasses and camera survived, too. I had a similar experience in the middle of a Kansas maize field once, and my camera also survived. As I said later, it could have been much worse. After all — bodies will heal, but cameras have to be replaced.

    • Thanks Linda. There is a back story to the ‘Age inappropriate’ comment but that’s for another day. I’m just determined to squeeze as much as I can out of the years ahead. I had a large lens hood on the camera. Some people dismiss them as unnecessary on modern lenses with their coatings. I use one to protect the lens not to avoid flare. I have several lens intact that would otherwise not have been. I priced up camera insurance once and decided it is a rip off. I really don’t think 65 is elderly. Nor 75. Elderly is a state of mind or a state enforced by your body – it is not a date on a birth certificate. I will soldier on.

  3. I am so glad that your fall was not any worse and that you will be okay soon. I suppose that just about anyone past the age of sixty has fallen. But a fall shakes up the body even if you think that it does not. It jars all the vital organs and each time a fall happens, that is a pretty bad blow. I have fallen about four times in the past 12 years and it sure was not peasant even though I had no evidence of falling other than feeling really tired, in pain, and very anxious. My knees were hurting a lot, but I kept walking and after about two month or more, I was ok. I have learned to look down as I walk, no matter where that might be and to never push my luck on iffy surfaces.

    • Iffy surfaces. Yes, that’s it, Yvonne. I really should have known better. I also rarely look down because I’m looking for birds. But I’m a lot better now. The bruising is still working through me but the cuts are healing well and I think another week should get me back in the field. 😃

  4. I do hope you’re feeling better and I hope you continue to rage against the night. We’re dealing with my father who is 93 and has trouble getting around to his profound frustration and irritation. It’s very difficult for all of us as it is for you. Keep snarling and fighting! All the best.


  5. Thankful that nothing is broken, especially your spirit! So hard to wait and heal. Going through that myself after a fairly major surgery and cancer treatment. Don’t people realize, it is spring and high time to be out and on the trail??? Perhaps a sampling from your store of PG Wodehouse will help.

    • I wondered how you were, Melissa, but I always hesitate to ask…. but it sounds like you too have an unbroken spirit. A whole host of my friends have had cancer (mainly prostate) and all are doing well though at varying paces. I hope you are back at the studio and producing the beautiful artwork like the one that still hangs on my wall. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

      • Thank you so much, Andrew. My spirit wavers a bit, but I’m told I’ll be around for great grandchildren, so that’s something. I have been playing in my studio~must post again to share what I’ve been up to.
        I wish you the same.

      • Great grandchildren? Wonderful news…. but possibly a rather long way off and all the better for it. I am sure the studio is the best therapy.

      • As it happens, I don’t expect grandchildren, let alone great grandchildren. But I wasn’t about to tell that to the doctor! You’re right about the studio being good therapy. How are you feeling? I must say, your description of the trail you were on would have challenged the youngest of trail-goers. I hope you are back out doing what you love, photographing and exploring.

      • I actually feel fine Melissa, just some residual pain in the rib cage that is slowly easing. The cuts are healing. I am targeting next week to get out on the trails again. Your studio and my camera are companions to cherish.

      • Indeed they are, as are you even though we’ve only met here.

  6. This is such sad reading, go carefully, you will be up and about again. It just seems to take so much longer with each year and the frustration is teeth-grindingly annoying. Last time I saw a physio (on zoom!), he said ‘just pace yourself’…

    • Well I would regard it as defiant rather than sad, Hilary. But yes, frustrating the way progress slows me down. I think ‘just pace yourself’ would be in one ear and out the other with me. Stay well.

      • I should indeed have said defiant! Pacing is not in my vocabulary either and with three very small grandchildren, a husband with PD, a garden (and an ongoing discussion with a muntjac as to who owns it), there is not much choice either.

      • That’s far too much to have on your plate. We struggle with 2 grandchildren and we are generally in decent health. I sympathise with the muntjac. Our Hampshire garden was the victim of Roe Deer who ate my roses. They refused to be evicted and in the end I spent a fortune deer-proofing the boundaries. They have not yet made it up to our apartment here.

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