“You may get skinned knees and elbows, but it’s worth it if you score a spectacular goal.” Mia Hamm
In 1687, Sir Isaac Newton watched an apple fall from a tree and began developing his Universal Law of Gravitation. In the past 327 years, this theory for gravity has been tested time and time again. It’s been proven true with every experiment. I once saw on a stroke survivor t-shirt, “I didn’t fall, I was just testing the existence of gravity”. I now declare to test it when falling on my knees, my hands, my elbows and, most recently, my face. Generally, I fall once every six month or so.
Early this month I traveled to my hometown. Presentations had been scheduled for the first Monday I was there. The day before this speech, my parents had graciously offered to invite extended family over for a meal. Being two thousand miles away, our visits are rare but treasured.
The morning of our family get-together, I went out for a walk with my husband and Mom. During this walk, I tested gravity again. As I fell, I stopped myself with the hand holding my phone, my chin, and my front, right tooth. I broke that tooth. My speech was slurred. I had a presentation in eighteen hours. My chin was cut deep enough we thought I might require stitches. My wrist and knees were bleeding. I had family coming over in two hours.
Thankfully, there’s a wonderful emergency room in a nearby small town. They saw me right away and fixed me with concern, compassion, and medical skill. An amazing dentist in our town rushed to his office on this Sunday morning and bonded my tooth. Thank you Wolken Dental for making it appear as if nothing ever happened. My visiting family forgave me, and even helped me laugh about my dramatic entrance a few hours late.
When I started book talks and presentations over the next week, the participants not only heard about the challenges life delivers as a young stroke patient, but also saw these challenges first-hand from the battle wounds I wore on my face, wrists, and knees. The speech offered a great demonstration of my ongoing attempt to help people understand when you fall, you brush off your knees, wipe your hands, and carry on.
People have said I am too positive. I have heard I am unreasonably optimistic. Yes. Yes to both of these statements. I am hopeful. I am positive. I am happy and optimistic. You see, for example with this fall, I am acutely aware what a gift I have walking again. I know exactly how far I have come and am reminded what is still missing. I prefer to celebrate what I have recovered since my stroke. I would never fall down, never break a tooth, and never crack open my chin or scrape up my knees if I was bound to a wheelchair. I am walking. I get out of bed every morning and walk independently. If falling down every six months is the price I have to pay for walking, well, I consider that a mighty small price for the opportunity to experience the other abilities I celebrate and embrace every other day of the year.
I fell down. I brushed off my knees, wiped my hands, and carried on.