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This week I fell on an icy step on my patio just hours after hearing a lecture at work on slips and falls and how to prevent them. It was a graceful slow motion execution that involved bringing a metal shelf unit down with me which helped buffer the fall, but as my dog stood in the doorway looking down at me with his “What happened, Mom?” look, all I could think of was the pain, hope I didn’t have any broken bones, and that the neighbors didn’t hear me. My injuries consisted of a large line of scrapes and bruises on my shin and a bruised and cut knee cap.

My job is physical. It involves heavy lifting and standing all day long and it’s fast paced. So, knowing how injuries like this tend to hurt more and in different places the next day, I decided to wait until morning to see how I felt before going in to work or calling the doctor. As I stepped out of bed I felt the full brunt of the mishap in my leg, ankle, hip, and back and decided to do what I very rarely do…I called in.

I then called the doctor’s office to see if I could get in to make sure I didn’t have any broken or cracked bones. It was a big decision to go to the doctor at all because I knew there would be sick people there and I didn’t want to risk catching a bad virus! They were booked. Instead, I decided to go to the urgent care facility I had gone to three years previously. That is where the point of this blog installation originated.

I was happy to find only two other people in the waiting room! I was assigned a young Physicians Assistant which is pretty common these days. She came in, took vitals, examined my leg and knee, and took notes on how I felt and other painful areas. I wanted x-rays for certain and as she started to leave I asked her if there should be any restrictions to my activity level because my work was physically demanding. She couldn’t contain the fleeting look that crossed her face at the moment before she spoke. It was an incredulous look. After she composed herself she said we would determine that after looking at the results of the X-rays.

I am happy to report there are no broken bones or cracks. Just contusions and aches from muscles that probably hadn’t been used since I was a toddler. She wrote out orders for rest, elevating my leg, a knee brace, and OTC pain relievers, which was fine with me. I have a high tolerance for pain and was not there for narcotics. But that look she gave me earlier was still stuck in my mind. Let me explain.

I am almost 60 years old. I have worked the better part of my life and I have worked hard physical labor. In some places I am considered a senior citizen with benefits and in others, I am not quite there. Because I am in this twilight zone of senior citizenry, I’m feeling the pain but not the gain. I have eight more years to go before I qualify for full pension at 20 years of employment at my workplace and unless I win the lottery, I want to make it. I am rarely sick and had two years of perfect attendance before yesterday but as a responsible person who cares about her health as well as her job and future, I want to do whatever I can to take care of my body so it lasts for the long haul. If that means taking a day or two off work to recoup, I will. If it means requesting modification of my work requirements to allow my body to recoup, I will. I am not a person who asks to get special accommodations because of laziness. I’m sure healthcare professionals see that a lot but I would respectfully ask them not to come to that automatic conclusion about people.

Just as it is not my job to make assumptions about your work ethic, it is not yours to do the same about mine.

Maybe I misinterpreted the look and if that is the case, it wouldn’t be the first time. I’m a person who is observant of body language and I try to keep in mind Maya Angelou’s words:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

There….I feel better. Still sore, but better.