Oops! there goes the vertical hold

Do you feel silly when you fall and kiss the pavement or the ice? I sure do. Of course, you don't need ice or snow to fall, but here in the Midwest it's been easy to do this year with all the sleet and ice. Icy steps, driveways and parking lots are prime territory for the kind of fall that would win you the ten thousand dollar prize on ''Funniest Home Videos.'' You know -- feet higher than your head, skirt around your shoulders, wish you had a bag to cover your head kinda fall. Well, take heed, we've all done it, and we'll probably continue to strive to bruise our egos when the horizontal hold overtakes the vertical.

I know I fell three times last season in all that ice carrying laundry to and from my office. Twice I managed to fall on my laundry bag and only bruise my ego. The other time, I looked just as silly as the first two, but I think I was lucky not to have cracked open my head. Yes, it's probably too hard.

My major early New Year's resolution is to wear boots, which was the main reason I fell so many times last year -- trying to sneak around in those stupid little shoes. No more of that for me. I've got the big oversized clodhoppers out this year. So if I fall, (and confessing the truth, I've fallen once) it won't be because of slick shoes.

I was walking to the local coffee house during one of those beautiful wet snows we had, boots and all, and down I went, clean as a whistle there I was! The snow made a nice cushion and I thought I had gotten clean away without anyone seeing me, and well, no one would be the wiser. But I forgot to brush the back of my coat off sufficiently and when I got to the coffee house and ran into some people I knew, the first thing out of their mouth, ''you fell down!'' Guess I'm going to have to work harder on equalizing my horizontal and vertical hold buttons. Oh well, I've been lucky and have not seriously injured myself or broken anything.

On the more serious side, many of us are not so lucky. Wrists and hip fractures are high on the list of serious injuries due to falls. Other frequently occurring injuries from falls are broken fingers, arms, clavicles and serious sprains of all kinds, cuts the need stitching -- especially the face and head, concussions and black eyes, ouch! I hope that none of you suffer any falls on the ice this year or any serious injury, but if you do remember to err on the side of caution.

First aid for any sprain, strain or fracture is RICE.

R is for rest or immobilization. Pain with movement can be an indicator of fracture. Don't risk moving the part or walking on it and possibly doing further damage.

I is for ice. Swelling is your worst enemy in fractures or sprains. It diminishes circulation and can dramatically increase your pain.

C is for compression. Use an ACE bandage if you have one. It will help further reduce swelling and give some much needed support to the injury.

E is for elevation. This too reduces swelling which in turn reduces pain. Always let pain be your guide. If it hurts too much, you're on it too much. If there is any question of fracture call your doctor immediately.

For cuts apply a clean dry compress. If it is bleeding profusely, use enough pressure to contain the bleeding. This may cause some discomfort, but it is important to stop the bleeding. Usually 5-10 minutes of steady pressure will suffice.

If someone is knocked unconscious from a fall, call for help immediately. DO NOT try to handle this one on your own. If they awaken, try to make them comfortable and warm, but don't insist they try and get up. They may have broken something and will need a minute or two to orient themselves to any serious pain they may be having.

Okay, now I don't want to see any of you out there without your boots. This isn't your mother talking; it's the boot Gestapo! We know who you are so don't even think about it -- got it?! Have fun, but above all, be safe.

Till next time, Rebecca.

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online January 16, 2001

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