Wear a helmet

One minute  I was descending, balancing cutlery and plates on my right hand; the next , I was slamming my neck, spine and butt hard on jutting, concrete, well – laid out slabs – knocking the breath out of me and sending that balanced pile flying in all directions. 

I have a meeting at 9a.m on the island. Was my initial thought. I didn’t want to miss it. The possibility of a slipped disc or broken bones was insignificant. Much like the student who screamed:  ‘Ah! My CK jeans!‘ when shot in the leg by armed robbers. 

It is difficult to describe what happened  because everything went so fast like …magic. Africa movie magic. 

For several  dazed minutes, I didn’t move a muscle. After that initial thought , Inly then did my mind begin to process the incident while waiting to get back the wind that shot out of me upon impact. 

The silence was eerie at 5.45a.m. as I finally, slowly craned my neck. That’s when fear began to sip in. Scared to move my entire body in the event of any physical or internal damage, I assessed the one in front of me. Most of the cutlery and plastic plates were strewn on the bottom half of the stairway. The only glassware, a pale blue wide plate ,was two steps below, snapped cleanly down the middle and laid in two equal halves. 

I shifted a leg and heaved myself up. No pain. No discomfort coursing through my body. 

Sigh of relief. I could carry on with my day.

My beau emerged from above then, quietly, cautiously. He thought there was an intruder in the house. The crash and prolonged silence thereafter made him wary. Was I okay? Could I stand, walk? Did I need to lie down? Any pains? 

It was all good. 

The stairs in my life and I had a strong relationship.  Running up and down them used to be an exercise routine five years ago. Trudging up and down was the substitute on a very exhausting day. They’ve allowed me fly down them in a hurry or watched me, amused, as I pant up them in fatigue. 

Not even my beau’s recurring nightmare of one of the children slipping on them had altered my view. The stairs and I were in a good place, even after this inconvenient event. 

Life went on, and I made that meeting and the one right after it 

Two days later, I was writhing in pain that presented itself as liquid fire in my butt, a dull thud on my spine and solidifying concrete in my neck. No amount of Deep Heat provided succour for more than 30 minutes. 

I couldn’t sit. I couldn’t stand. I couldn’t lie down .

By the time I was through with X – rays on the top part of my body, I was popping pain killers to keep my sanity. It didn’t help much when I appeared in front of the doctor.

Did I know how dangerous slipping down stairs were? How many people died from a fall, or had permanent scars or internal damages? And he wasn’t talking about slippery stairs or being pushed down one. Did I wear my slippers properly? Was I holding onto the banister? Did I focus on my descent or something else? 

When he was done reeling ouut dire statistics of stairway accidents, the pain plaguing me had relegated to the background. 

The stairs and I are not friends. They are structures made to ease movement between levels of buildings. They are tricky, and their railings not features of fun. Whatever ties bond me to them meant I took these concrete slabs for granted. They are to be viewed differently  – as one of the deadly weapons in my house. In the same category as an assault rifle. 

And after this incident –  the pain, the treatment – I  regard the stairway(any stairway) with new respect.

Instinctively reaching for the banister for support, being conscious of every step I take, treating it the way I would if I were riding a bike…wearing a helmet for safety.

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