Dorothy Wilhelm: This is one Thanksgiving trip that wasn’t all that nice

Contributing writerDecember 2, 2012 

I won’t be traveling this Christmas. I took my trip for Thanksgiving.

It was going to be a Norman Rockwell-type feast with my son and his family. The house was warm and inviting. I helped out by not making my signature stuffing, a step universally applauded.

There were all the makings of a memorable holiday, so naturally I put my best foot forward. Then I caught the other foot and tripped.

In a move that would be hard to replicate in a “Dancing With The Stars” competition, I managed to fall against the dining room table, bounce effortlessly off the computer stand, and land with my head more or less impaled on the decorative but sharp bottom rail of an accessory table. The next thing I knew I was lying on the floor surrounded by anxious family members I couldn’t quite recognize. I didn’t know who they were, but I didn’t know who I was either, so it was fair.

They kept insisting it was Thanksgiving Day, but I had no memory of arriving for the festive meal, so I lay there trying to look nonchalant while dripping enough gore from a scalp wound to satisfy both Cohen brothers. I could hear a young relative calling 911.

“An elderly lady has fallen,” he said.

Well that’s a relief. He couldn’t be talking about me. I’m certainly not elderly. Or I wasn’t when I got there.

The ambulance arrived with lights and siren, which I’m sure the neighborhood appreciated very much. That’s how I ended up spending Thanksgiving in the emergency room. They did not serve turkey, but I felt like one.

And now I have seven staples in my head. This does not enable me to get radio broadcasts as I had hoped. I suppose I must need an antenna of some sort. It does seem to have let in a little fresh air, though.

Falls like mine have to be taken seriously. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta say the death rates from falls among older men and women have risen sharply over the past decade. When you’re past 75, as I suppose I must admit I am, you are four to five times more likely than those age 65 to 74 to be admitted to a long-term care facility for a year or longer after a fall. In other words, I was very, very lucky.

OK, I’ll admit it scared me. I’m especially worried about the fact that many older people become so frightened after a fall that they severely limit their activity and soon are unable to be fully independent. We have to stay active to survive.

Take Santa Claus for instance. We know the jolly old elf is, well, old, on the heavy side, and he obviously doesn’t eat right. Still, all that going up and down chimneys and jumping onto reindeer has apparently paid off. He goes everywhere he wants.

Regular exercise is important, and the CDC say that tai chi is especially good. So I’m off to my tai chi class this morning, wearing a fetching scarf that makes me look alarmingly like my grandmother. This wouldn’t be bad, except she’s been dead for 50 years. It may not be truly fashionable, but it does cover the 2-inch shaved spot on my scalp that looks sort of like pre-execution preparations. The staples are due to come out on Friday.

I’m determined to put on a happy face and look on the bright side. I’ll be able to do it if I don’t run out of undereye concealer.

At the hospital on Thanksgiving, my son and I had a surprisingly good visit. We reminisced about other holidays and had just worked our way back to the year overseas when he dropped his brother in a benjo ditch when the word finally came that we could leave.

“Good,” he said. “We’ve about wrung all the joy we can out of the evening anyway.”

So here’s to a happy holiday. May you wring all of the joy possible out of the season, but please don’t forget, you’ll enjoy it a lot more if you don’t take any unexpected trips.

Dorothy Wilhelm’s website is itsnevertoolate.com. Reach her at 800-548-9264; P.O. Box 881, DuPont, WA 98327; or Dorothy@itsnevertoolate.com. She is the author of a tiny book, “No Assembly Required.”

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