Well, not exactly a slope, really.
This morning as I walked to my car I stepped on some black ice and slipped. There was nothing around on which I could steady myself. Nothing firm of which I could take hold. Just me, and the blacktop, and my fleeting equilibrium.
I didn't fall. I caught my balance the old fashioned way, that intricate and instinctive feat of coordination that allows us to thrust our center of gravity back in line with our bodies and remain upright. This isn't the first time I'd slipped and managed not to fall, nor would it have been the first time I'd slipped and ended up on the ground. It was the first time I'd done either since my operation, and so I immediately recalled my first meeting with Dr. C. That was the one where he was genuinely surprised that I was so stable on my feet after all I'd been through.
I started to wonder how things could have played out. What if I'd fallen? I'd probably have fallen backward. Would the jarring motion of the impact have done anything? What if I'd hit my head? I would have hit the back, rather than the weakened front where I had my resection. What would I do if I felt fine? Would I pick myself up and go to work? What would I do if I didn't feel fine? Should I have gone to the hospital either way? Is that who I am now? The sort of person who can't even deal with a fall on his own? All of my various neurologists asked me if I'd ever fallen and it seemed like such a ridiculous question, akin to asking if I'd ever sneezed. Of course I had. What of it?
But I kept coming back to Dr. C.'s reaction, and the implication that I was unusually stable. Were I more typical, would I have been able to catch myself like that? Or if I want to get philosophical (possibly spiritual?) about it, was I supposed to fall? Was I supposed to spend today in the hospital? Was I supposed to be forever changed and further disabled? Was I supposed to die today?
Hell of a thought for a Monday.
My past self would have taken the fall, picked himself up and gone about his life. I admit that had I fallen, I likely would have done the same even if I didn't feel quite right, in the hopes that the feeling would go away on its own over time. I know the real warning signs to watch for, don't I?
None of that mattered because I didn't fall. I got into my car and I drove to work, albeit with a little extra care having confirmed that the roads were icy. I felt good having reaffirmed that I was still capable of such a complex automatic response, but unsettled about what may have happened were I not. Chances are, there will come a day when I slip and fall. I wonder, what choices shall I make on that day, and how shall they serve me?
Laura, if you're reading this and didn't see my response to your comment, I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have. You can reach me at knightlyqblowguns(at)hotmail(dot)com.