Diary of a Klutz

“The journey of a thousand steps begins with … me falling down the steps.”

As my mom likes to say, I walk among you. Given that I am famously more accident-prone than a blindfolded drunk in a minefield, the fact that I walk at all, still, on my own steam, never ceases to amaze me. It has been said, by people who know me well (and come to think of it, by people who have just met me, such as ER staff) that my obituary will read like the adventures of Wile E. Coyote. I will probably be killed by a falling anvil or a speeding rocket sled. If I am lucky.

I have a scar on my right wrist where a parrot bit me.  (The fact that her doting owner’s hands, ears, arms and face are covered with similar scars should have been my “stay-away” flag but never mind.)

There is a seven-inch scar and four smaller nicks on my right knee from where I had my anterior cruciate ligament – ACL – replaced, after an overweight nurse fell on me in a karate class and snapped my leg in half. (In a reversal of the Murphy’s Law that usually dogs me, she was handily able to do the necessary triage on me right after she crippled me.)

When I was nine, my friend Colleen dropped a metal honey-pail full of rocks out of a tree onto my head, splitting my bonce like a melon. She swears she saw the X’s form in my eyeballs, like Sylvester the Cat, as I keeled over, straight as a tent-pole, face-first into the grass.

I have broken my foot falling over the cat while getting out of the shower. My front tooth is crowned, its predecessor shattered when I fell out of a tree in 1972. Two of my toes have been broken – one in karate class, one in jujitsu. (Note to self: the best self-defense I can undertake now is staying home and hiding under my bed.)

I have had two concussions — one in jujitsu when my head missed the handily-placed mats and connected with the concrete floor instead, and the other obtained as I emerged from the hold of a friend’s boat bearing bottles of water for everyone and failed to notice the boom was swinging about. I believe my graceful last words were,  “Anyone need a dr…-gghhhgrghhh…”

And as I write this, I am recovering from two broken ribs, two broken bones in my left arm, a hairline fracture in my left tibia and a whole whack of soft-tissue damage in my right knee, gained while spontaneously dismounting my bike at high speed on a curved path beside the Don River in Toronto in October. Given that I (never able to resist tempting fate yet again) go mountain-biking on a semi-regular basis with a group of women from work, without — to date — having suffered more than a mosquito bite, it is astonishing (yet somehow typical) that the ticklish claw of Murphy’s Law chose to descend on me and swat me off my conveyance on a sleepy Sunday afternoon as I was returning my books to the library.

But such is the life of a klutz. I have often wondered — is it because I’m left-handed? (We lefties have statistically shorter lifespans than our sinister counterparts, by about ten years.) Is it because my big smart Mensa brain is too busy wondering whether that license plate is a prime number to bother operating my extremities in an organized fashion?

Or is it because, as they say in the press, I choose to “be active,” meaning I put myself in harm’s way more often than those who stay safely indoors, idly pointing their remotes at their flat-screen TVs and engulfing Doritos?

The irony of the bike accident is that I had had to “settle” for biking, exclusively, after being sidelined from my usual pastime — running — last June with a heel spur and plantar fasciitis. Because I am a klutz, I had originally thought it was “just” another fracture, a stress fracture brought on by over-training or running on concrete (the way we do in the city) or just klutzing my way up a curb the wrong way or something. X-rays told me otherwise (“Oh look! A little molar is growing out of my calcaneus.. isn’t that cute…”) and so I figured, fine, no running for a few months. I’ll bike instead. What could possibly go wrong?

Note to other klutzes out there: do not ever, ever ask yourself this. You will find out. In my case it was a wet patch on a curve, and the dawning realization that I was a) alone on a bike trail at dusk, and b) rather extensively hurt. Later, I will tell the story of the ensuing 2 hours in all their glory, but suffice it to say, Murphy could be heard chuckling triumphantly as a guy named Desmond wrapped my arm in plaster at Toronto East General later that evening.

So now, as my bones, tendons and various tissues knit up again, my physiotherapist tells me I am fine to take up spinning. I have been at it for a week. I love it. It combines several of my favourite things — vigorous exercise (I have declined the spin studio’s offer of yoga classes; on that, more later.. do NOT get me started on yoga), pounding rock music, the smug knowledge of calories burned and (with any luck) my recently accumulated bulges and saddlebags disappearing like snowbanks in a May thaw. (Oh please, oh please…)

For those of you with a religious bent, pray for me, please, that I do not find a way to hurt myself in a spin class. (And there are ways, believe me.) For the rest of you, get out your wallets and lay your bets.

I will, as always, keep you posted.


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