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Don’t Ignore Your Body’s Warning Signs

How closely do you listen to your body? Do you wait to make doctor appointments, hoping things will improve?

I’ve discovered cracking a hip is not the only serious injury, your hip can sustain.

Don't Ignore Your Body's Warning Signs

Here I sat, a week after my fall. Reading about instinct, and ignoring mine.

 

After my fall last month, I was so relieved the X-ray showed no break in my hip, I didn’t check Web MD. Usually, the hypochondriac in me scares the crap out of myself, reading online medical sites. But this time, I just ignored it and waited to heal. Dumb move. Really dumb.

I assumed I was going to be fine. The warning signs were all there, but I chose to ignore them.

After 4 weeks of aching, popping in the joint and shooting pain, I decided to see my internist. She knew what was wrong immediately. My symptoms were text-book for a Labral Tear. She said I should have seen her within a week of my fall.

 

It turns out, falls are the leading cause of injury in older adults.

How big is the problem?

  • More than 1.6 million adults go to emergency rooms for fall related injuries every year.
  • One in three adults over 65, fall each year.
  • Less than half the people who fall, talk to their doctors about it.
  • Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries.

 

That’s a big problem.

 

Ways to lower your risk of falling

  • Exercise regularly and focus on increasing leg strength.
  • Work on improving your balance. Strengthening your core muscles help with balance, as does Yoga, Ballet and Tai Chi.
  • Have your  eyes examined yearly, and make sure your glasses have up to date RX lenses.
  • Wear sensible shoes. Rubber soles are great for cushioning, but can also catch on floors, and stop you short. Causing you to lurch forward.
  • Make sure the lighting in your home is bright enough to see well. Especially in stairwells.
  • Use non slip mats in your tub and shower.
  • Make sure you are getting enough Calcium and Vitamin D to keep your bones healthy.
  • Keep electrical cords out-of-the-way and move low obstacles you could trip over.

 

None of these would have helped with my fall. I tripped over uneven asphalt, the county should have repaired. But I’m implementing them to protect us for the future.

 

I’m now scheduled for an MRI and set me up for physical therapy, which I should have started right after my fall.

I find it interesting that my younger self was a persistent patient advocate for my melanoma. But my 59-year-old self put her head in the sand and ignored my body’s warning signs.

I waited to get it properly examined, and I shouldn’t have.

 

 

Do you wait to go to the doctor?

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39 Comments

  1. DeeDee
    July 2, 2015 / 5:04 am

    This sounds exactly like the pain I started haing over a year ago. The sharp pain showed up as soon as I got off the treadmill. I couple weeks later I went to my primary dr. who said it was arthritis and didn’t offer much help. At times I could hardly walk. Six months later I had an MRI that showed arthritis and eventually did some physical therapy that really helped. Now I am having a lot of pain again including in my other hip and you are convincing me not to be so complacent about it and go to a specialist!

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 2, 2015 / 7:04 am

      I’m really glad you’re going to pursue it further. Pain is one thing, a lot of pain is another. And persistant pain screams for more investigation. Let me know how it goes DeeDee.

  2. July 2, 2015 / 6:57 am

    Jennifer, I do this as well. Is it procrastination, or maybe we think we know best? Why get all of those MRIs, doctor’s appointments, only to have them tell us the answer is “time” as in it just needs time to heal, or it’s caused by time, as in you’re getting older.
    Brenda.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 2, 2015 / 7:08 am

      But unfortunately it was not just time in my case Brenda. I didn’t pursue the symptoms and am paying the price now. It wasn’t procrastination, it was apathy.

  3. July 2, 2015 / 7:08 am

    Jennifer, please be careful. There is arthroscopic repair for labral tears ( I had it done several years before my first hip replacement.) Sometimes I get so tired of seeing doctors and surgeons, at times it is necessary even if to get more info and set up rehab for the Medical issue.

    xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena
    Gallery Opening!

  4. July 2, 2015 / 7:20 am

    Jennifer, I know this post will help so many. I wish I had learned to be proactive about my health sooner rather than later. We must take those aches and pains seriously as we age. I am glad you are going to get much needed help…take it easy on your trip and don’t overdo!

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 2, 2015 / 7:27 am

      Thanks Pam. I do hope it encourages women to be vigilant and proactive with their health. Things can go from bad to worse if we ignore those signs! I’ll be taking a cane on my trip, just in case 🙂

  5. July 2, 2015 / 8:05 am

    Great advice, Jennnifer! I’d just add, be extra vigilent when wearing flip flops – they catch on carpeting (stairs!) easily and can slip quickly on a hard surface floor if there’s a bit of liquid.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 2, 2015 / 10:40 am

      So true. Thanks for reminding us Adena!

    • July 2, 2015 / 4:57 pm

      Dear Adena, You could not be more right about the dangers of wearing flip flops when not on the beach or leaving your pedicure appt. I have just been doing some research on that very topic. Flip flops present multiple dangers for the foot and the skin on the foot that Podiatrists have been warning about for years. Personally, I hate them. And………..don’t get me started on men w/hairy toes wearing them. Yuck!!!

      Cheers, M-T

  6. July 2, 2015 / 8:42 am

    I rarely visit the doctor, preferring a physiotherapist if my injuries or aches and pains are mobility related. But I’m pretty proactive about my health in that I nourish my body well, get adequate sleep, and exercise consistently (yoga, running, cycling). I take good care of my eyes and teeth (actually see my dentist and optometrist or ophthalmologist more often than my GP). So far, so good. . . looks for wood to knock on.
    Hope you get a decent prognosis on your hip and begin a regime that takes you back to wellness and mobility.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 2, 2015 / 10:42 am

      Thanks Frances! Fingers crossed too. I’m religious about my annual and semi annual check in’s and have recently switched to dental cleaning every 4 monnths, as it’s easier on me:)

  7. July 2, 2015 / 9:17 am

    Hope that you will be on the mend very soon…it’s very scary having a fall and our bones are so fragile after menopause. Exercise of the weight bearing type is so important in our dotage.
    Sending you a virtual hug.
    XO

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 2, 2015 / 10:44 am

      Thanks Leslie! I’m really anxious to begin exercising again…but I have to wait and see what is going on inside my hip. Funny how a fall motivates one. Me anyway:)
      xo

  8. July 2, 2015 / 11:44 am

    I, too, try to ignore aches and pains and trust my body to heal itself. Seems like we’re either in one camp [hypochondriac-like attention to aches and pains] or the other[body, heal thyself]. I think what you’re saying is that there’s a time and place for each of these and that serious pain, especially after a precipitating event like fall, needs to be checked out medically so that the body can get some help with the healing

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 2, 2015 / 2:20 pm

      Thanks exactly what I mean penpen. If my body is sendng loud messages of pan, I’m going to pay closer attention.

  9. July 2, 2015 / 12:18 pm

    Hi Jennifer! I’m glad you finally DID go to the doctor because there are some who still wouldn’t have gone. At my chiropractors office he has a sign on the wall that says, Most people say, “Maybe it will go away.” Fortunately it does sometimes, but often it doesn’t. Knowing our body and also our tendencies is probably best. I hope you are feeling better now that you’ve got it under treatment. Yes! To us all taking good care of ourselves! ~Kathy

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 2, 2015 / 2:23 pm

      Thanks Kathy. This has been a wake up call for me.

  10. Linda S.
    July 2, 2015 / 12:38 pm

    I can add something to your list…buy a short leash for your dog! Almost 3 years ago we were walking with our dog who is mid-sized. My husband asked me to hold the leash (a long nylon one) for a few seconds and in an instant another dog came running out of it’s front yard barking aggressively. My dog pulled and yanked me across the street so hard I hit the asphalt landing on my chest. I was in a lot of pain in my ribs and had a skinned knee but managed to finish our walk. I did not go to the doctor for 2 1/2 weeks thinking I just bruised my ribs badly. WRONG!!! I cracked 2 ribs. I still have occasional pain from it even now. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

    I bought a short, leather leash…way more in control on the rare occasion I will walk her. I’m too paranoid now so it’s mostly my husband’s duty.

    Linda

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 2, 2015 / 2:29 pm

      Oh Linda, broken ribs are so very painful!! I’m sorry. That’s a great tip about the leash. I was acually walking my dog, but she didn’t have any part of my fall.

  11. Sandy
    July 2, 2015 / 12:39 pm

    Hope u heal soon and I fell last year in the shower did not see the doctor them almost year past I finally went and he wasn’t listening to me I did however get an r Ray and some pain pills and still very pain full I will be seeing a new doctor soon so hope fully I can get the helpi need bless u and I have learned lesson

    Love your work

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 2, 2015 / 2:31 pm

      Fingers crossed for you Sandy! I hate when dctors ignore me! In makes me furious. Be persistant.

  12. Linda S.
    July 2, 2015 / 12:44 pm

    P.S. I hope your P.T. gets you on the road to a full recovery soon! 🙂

  13. July 2, 2015 / 1:17 pm

    Yikes! So glad you are on the mend now at least.

    I also tend to wait too long to see the Dr. Might have something to do with my paralyzing fear of them.

    bisous
    Suzanne

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 2, 2015 / 2:34 pm

      Your nasty experience a few years ago definitely explains your fear of them. But be aware and if you really need help, don’t wait!

  14. July 2, 2015 / 1:52 pm

    I swear by WebMD. My husband had a small cut and bruise on his index finger; he washed it, put neosporin on it and a bandaid. He played tennis twice in the next 3 days and didn’t pay much attention. On the 4th day; I looked at it carefully and noticed it was red and a bit more swollen.
    I went on WebMD; and looked up “hand infections” After seeing the grossest pictures you can imagine….there was a picture of the exact thing!!! There were 3 Latin names and it said; get immediate medical attention. I wrote them down and announced at 7pm that we were going to the emergency hospital. My husband said; I’ll just get a good night’s sleep; and we can go in the morning. I said we’re going now; or I’m calling the paramedics.
    When we arrived at the hospital I joked with the doctor that I now have my MD because of WebMD, and showed him what I had written down. He didn’t miss a beat; he said to my husband: “your wife is very clever. Not only is this the correct diagnosis; by bringing you now she saved at least your digit; if not your hand!” He was in the hospital for two nights!!! It was a strep/staph infection of the sheath of the tendon. He was on antibiotics that the doctor called “the big guns” for 3 days; then had to have surgery the last day to get the infection all out. This was in January; and it is about 75% recovered full strength and mobility!
    He admitted that it was hurting somewhat the whole time.

    You are so right! Listen to your body!!!

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 2, 2015 / 2:40 pm

      Wow Penelope! That’s scary. Thank god you were persitent. This is why married men live longer than single ones!!
      I threaten the exact same thing with my husband about the parametics.
      He fell one night a few years ago and seriously hurt his knee. He didn’t want me to call the parametics but I ignored him. He was furrious. But when the parametics arrived, they discovered his heart was in Afib and insisted he go to the hospital for observation. We would have never known he had Afib if I hadn’t been pushy.

  15. July 2, 2015 / 2:30 pm

    Yikes Jen, This sounds serious. Hope the physical therapy will help. You know my grandma who is 98, just fell and she tripped in her home.She’s doing okay, but we are lucky. She’s motivated to get better and is relearning to walk after two bars were put in her upper leg. I agree staying fit means more than just walking though. Core things really help when you are getting much older. I notice balance is a big part of a lot of these falls! I do ballet and hope I can keep doing it. Take care ! xo Kim

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 2, 2015 / 2:42 pm

      Ballet is excellent for balance! Funny enough I danced ballet for many year, 6 days a week. But the balance doen’t stay with you without practice. I’m really glad you Grandma is doing better!!
      xoxo

  16. July 2, 2015 / 5:02 pm

    Dear Jennifer, I had no idea of the repercussions involved w/your last fall. As we say in French “O ma pauvre!” You poor thing.

    Maintaining your balance in life and in limb is crucial as we age. I do my ballet stretches and check my balance every day. Nothing too strenuous, mind you, since I have been dealing w/fibromyalgia for a number of years, so I know my limits. Still, I make sure to do something every day.

    I’m always nagging my husband to get to the doctor to have things checked. If he neglects to do so, I simply make an apt for him and send him an e-mail. “You have an apt w/Dr. X at ____ on ____. BE THERE!!!

    Talk soon, my dear.

    Cheers, M-T

  17. July 3, 2015 / 9:48 am

    Falling is one of my great fears. I hope you mend quickly, Jen!

  18. Honey Bee
    July 3, 2015 / 12:23 pm

    Hello Jennifer,

    Another thing to help prevent falls is sufficient hydration. Especially in the summer.

    I fell in my bedroom and hit my head on the wall. After thinking about it, I realized the day before had been very hot, and I’d been very sweaty. Water loss. So I suspected it was simply dehydration and wasn’t concerned.

    But, because I have both Atrial Fibrillation and Congestive Heart Failure, I go to the Dr. or Cardiology Clinic about everything, and they really pay attention. So I went for lots of tests.

    In the end my own doctor told me I was right. It was dehydration. So now, on hot days, I make sure I drink more water. It helps to prevent light headedness and vertigo.

    And, when I travel, I put a towel in the tub if there is no tub mat to prevent slipping in the tub.

    With trifocals, I’m extra cautious on stairs, and always use a handrail.

    Thanks for addressing this topic. The tips we share can make a difference and prevent injury.

    I wish you a speedy recovery and plenty of great days ahead.
    Honey Bee

  19. Wendy
    July 3, 2015 / 5:31 pm

    Great advice! I am good about the doctor – mostly. But I could be better! Went for ai long walk this morning and starting back at yoga tomorrow. You’ve inspired me!

  20. July 5, 2015 / 9:22 am

    I’m so sorry to hear about your fall and I’ve heard hip injuries are so painful and have such a long recovery that I totally understand why you put off seeing your Dr. I hope you’re feeling better and better, I hadn’t heard of a Labral Tear before and I can actually totally relate to getting freaked out checking sites like WebMD. I was looking on that site last Saturday reading ‘what contractions feel like’ while they were actually happening. 🙂 No matter what, listening to our bodies is so important and seeing a Dr. you trust.

    Happy 4th of July weekend!

    xoDale

  21. July 6, 2015 / 1:40 am

    Hi Jennifer, I’m so sorry to hear about your hip. I had a hip injury about a year ago and it took so long to heal. It seems as we get older we are more injury prone and it takes much longer to heal. Thank you for all the great tips.

    I hope you are feeling like dancing soon!

    Cherie
    http://www.stylenudge.com

  22. July 9, 2015 / 12:31 pm

    Hi Jennifer. I’m a new visitor from over on Midlife Boulevard!

    So sorry to hear about your injury. One of the things I hate most about getting older (both for myself and my clients), is the increased risk of an injury due to falling. Your suggestions are bang on; in particular, working on strengthening the legs and improving balance. I also like to do speed and agility drills with my clients, to ensure that they can respond quickly, in all directions, if something ends up in their path.

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery!
    P.S. I always see a physiotherapist immediately upon injury (after not doing so far many years and being out of the gym for longer as a consequence 🙁 )

  23. July 9, 2015 / 3:25 pm

    What an important and so often not talked about subject. I think you are probably among the majority who under report — we don’t want to complain, right? I hope you mend quickly and get back to exercising soon! Keep spread the message about falls and fall prevention!

  24. July 11, 2015 / 8:05 am

    Hi Jennifer,

    I’m sure you’re getting lots of advice, medical and non-medical. I’m sure you’re hearing a lot of stories, related and unrelated, to your injury.

    Many people care about you, myself included. Your readers are caring and supportive.

    Please take care of yourself.

    Smiles,
    Sandy

  25. July 11, 2015 / 6:15 pm

    Great post and advise. I’m so sorry to learn of your fall. I do hope everything works out well. I see doctors far to often for my health issues I often put off aches and pains. Thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things blog hop. Watch for your feature on Monday xo

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