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When You Fall, Make the Call!
Hugh Tilson

I know, I know. Nothing worse than a “do as I say, not as I do” guy. Still, confession is good for the soul. So let me tell you the story, and you can spot all the mistakes along the way to some important lessons learned.

Judy was out of town with our daughter Ann. I volunteered to dog-sit for Ann’s wonderful but very energetic three-year-old golden lab, Maggie. (1) Carolina Meadows is a very dog-friendly place, but we are respectful of each other and are careful to take our dogs out always on a leash (with a bag or two, but that’s another story).

I put Maggie on the leash and went to the mailbox. (2) Leash in one hand, mail in the other, I waved across the street to Ruth. Ruth spotted Maggie and let her know how beautiful she was. Maggie, liking this, whipped around from the right, behind my back, and dashed toward Ruth on my left. I held on for dear life. (3) The leash caught me behind the knees and, abruptly and unceremoniously, down I went. With both hands occupied and surprise on Maggie’s side, I had no time to take my usually practiced slight twist soft roll fall. (4) I went down hard. Right on the tailbone!

The pain was immediate and excruciating. Ruth asked, “Do you want me to call Security?”

“No,” I said. “I’ll be okay.” (5) She grabbed Maggie’s leash. I was grateful for the hot blacktop to soothe my aching back.

I needed Ruth to help me up (6) and I limped back into the house with Maggie. (7) I thought about going to the clinic, but it was already 4:30 p.m. on a Friday and I didn’t want to bother them. (8) Besides, I needed to get to the airport to pick up Judy and Ann. (9)

I won’t describe the weekend. It wasn’t pretty. I was too embarrassed about my folly to confess it all, even to Judy. (10) By Monday morning, I was almost unable to get out of bed without help, despite the heating pad and plenty of ibuprofen. (11)

How many “mistakes” have you spotted already? Hint: I numbered 11. What do you think was the BIGGEST mistake? Hint:  It was #5. We have an amazing Community Response System. You just pull the cord, press your button, or call the emergency number (or have Ruth do it for you) and a “community response team” of a security staffer and a nurse can find you within minutes. In my case, I risked making a bad thing worse and set back my recovery by a senseless 72 hour delay and a self-prescribed regimen—all to protect my injured pride.

Finally, I did something right. First thing Monday morning, you can bet I showed up at our wonderful community clinic. Pat had no trouble knowing that I needed to be seen pronto, and I was immediately brought in for a quick (no appointment) nurse practitioner check. Karen was letter perfect in her history taking and physical exam. Her conclusion: I needed an immediate full back x-ray. A quick call to the UNC Spine Center and I was scheduled as soon as I could get there. Another call to our amazing on-site rehabilitation center, and I had three emergency sessions booked that week, and a prescription for the right analgesic!

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