Fear of falling

FROM MY HEART - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura (The Philippine Star) - August 9, 2020 - 12:00am

Sometimes I just don’t know what to write about. Here we are tied up in another quarantine. Not that I really mind. We’ve been stuck at home for five months now. I have learned how to keep myself somewhat busy and how not to go totally crazy. In the morning usually close to 9 a.m. I get up, often ahead of my husband and go to the breakfast table where I take my StemEnhance. Then I have to kill half an hour before eating. I am alone. This is the perfect time to pray.

I reach for the old prayer book I found when I was settling in here at my husband’s apartment. I keep it on the dining room chair next to mine. It has wonderful prayers for the sick. Since my husband had a small ischematic stroke I have been praying fervently for his recovery. Then one of my closest friends also got sick, so I pray for him, too. Then I found at the end of the Prayers for the Sick a “Prayer for Inner Healing”: I beg you to come into my life and heal me of the psychological harms that struck me in my early years and from the injuries that they caused throughout my life. My God, I need that prayer, so I pray that one, too.

I pray for about 15 minutes ending with my favorite prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the ones I can, and the wisdom to know it’s me. That’s the shortest prayer but the one I love most because only God knows how much I have to change to survive.

My morning prayers take 15 minutes, then I play solitaire on my cell phone until the half hour is over. Then I can eat.

That’s one major change I have made. I now eat a substantial breakfast followed by a fairly big lunch and a very light dinner. I still wear my shapeless but cool cotton T-shirts and denim shorts that I once bought without trying on and found I couldn’t button it. Now I can button it easily. So maybe I have lost some inches.

I might spend the rest of the day watching Netflix or making jewelry. Anything to take my mind off things. My biggest worry is that my husband will fall again. His biggest vulnerability is a lack of balance. He was recovering pretty well until one night, after coming from the bathroom, he fell almost near the bed. He didn’t hit his head, thank God. But the next night I escorted him to the bathroom. We were doing pretty well but on the way out of the bathroom there is a small space between his closet and shoe rack that we have to pass. He fainted face-up there, bringing me along with him. I fell also face-up on top of him and on top of us fell a ton of shoes. “Club sandwich” was the word that popped into my head as I tried to get up. We both thought it was funny and laughed over it when we went back to bed.

But the next morning his back ached. I had a wound on my left elbow. The fall wasn’t so funny after all. Now we are both always anxious that he — or worse yet, we — might fall. Our driver, a big man, now takes him to wherever he goes. He walks with his cane for balance. He has not fallen since, but this weekend he will be in my care again and I am just so afraid we will fall again.

I think our enemy these days is fear. Fear is there lurking in the back of our minds. I watch him walk. The fear rises invisibly but I know it’s there. I try to create a rosary. I succeed because it wraps up my brains and my hands and I don’t sense the fear. At night he presses a buzzer when he wants to get up. Our driver comes in and escorts him back and forth. I stay in bed wrapped up in my fear, pretending to be asleep, but I am awake clutching his pillow to clear the bed so he can lie down easily when he returns, then he falls asleep again and I do not.

Fear is an obstruction to life’s enjoyment. You get things done but you don’t have a good time. I remember when I met him I saw his helper put eye drops in his eyes. Something flashed in my mind. It said, I’d like to take care of him one day. It was a very brief message but I remembered it. I think it came from above.

So now I take care of him and most of the time we enjoy being together. We laugh together, watch TV together and even share our fear of falling ... together.

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