Fear of Falling

by Claude Samton                            

It had been a cold snowy winter and I was worried about falling in the street. There were some close calls on icy pavement but I’d managed to stay upright. I made it through the entire winter, walking on ice and snow, never falling. Now it was a beautiful sunny spring day in March. I had just left Beth Israel Hospital where I’d been given a stress test.

As I reached Mercer Street, I stepped onto the sidewalk.

My foot caught the edge of the curb. I fell and my head hit the pavement.

A young Chinese boy helped me up and asked if I was all right. ‘Yeah I’m fine,’ I replied, noticing that my sunglasses were broken. I put my hand to my head, there was blood flowing from my forehead. Luckily I had several old napkins in my bag and held them over the wound, then pulled my hat down to hold them in place. I started walking toward the subway. The head was the immediate problem,  but as I walked, I noticed a pain in my right leg, that my left hand was swollen and that I was lurching from side to side as though drunk. I managed to make it home, change clothes, clean myself off and call my doctor. He was on vacation.

Should I return to the hospital ER or, better yet I thought, check Google?  A dozen sites came up, most of them discussing the symptoms of head injury from mild to severe. They included headaches, nausea, dizziness, glossy eyes, loss of memory, inability to speak. The item that caught my eye was ‘age over 60,’ which mentioned that dementia can be the result of a head injury in seniors. I went to the bathroom and talked to the mirror, I seemed lucid.

Another Google site that stood out mentioned Natasha Richardson who had fallen on her head while skiing. She was talking and joking after the fall and refused treatment. Several hours later she complained of a headache and was taken to a hospital.  She died the following day. This was interesting information. I had a headache, but it was not severe. How bad did it have to be for me to go to the hospital? Knowing myself, I figured that the headache came from worry, but how could I be sure?

I called my girlfriend, who was at work and couldn’t be reached, so I called my ex-wife. ‘Oh, I’m sure you’re OK,’ she said, ‘It’s all in your head.’


Next, I called my sister. ‘Call your doctor,’ she counseled. ‘Someone has to be covering.’  Someone was covering and finally returned the call two days later. I called my son Matt who scolded me, ‘Dad, why are you always falling?’ I tried to remember the last time I fell, but couldn’t. Maybe my memory was failing because I’d hit my head.

Anyway, I called two more friends. One cautioned me to stay in bed; she mentioned an elderly womanmy age, actually—who fell down the stairs, hit her head and died. Another friend tried to calm me down by telling me her father fell on his head and was fine for over nine months, then one day collapsed into a coma.

I decided not to call anyone else and haven’t looked at Google since.




Claude Samton has been an architect, photographer, and more recently a writer and illustrator of nine books listed on Amazon Books.