The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

November 2, 2013

Fill up my water glass, bartender; I don't expect to fall

From The Back Porch column

By Nerissa Young

— “Autumn leaves, Jesus doesn’t” read the message on the signboard of a little Baptist church that I pass every day en route to work.

It is the time of year in which wind gusts cause leaves to play the children’s games of Ring Around the Rosie and Red Rover.

There is another word for this season — fall. And I did Wednesday evening.

I decided to drive through Guyandotte to avoid the interstate since it was dark. I happened upon a sobriety checkpoint. The officer shined a flashlight in my eyes and asked if I’d had anything to drink.

“I had water at Bob Evans in Gallipolis,” I answered. “I think it’s worn off by now.”

He checked to make sure I didn’t have any open containers and verified my inspection sticker and license tag.

If, however, he had seen me stumble through my back door, he would have never let me pass. I’m wondering what was in the water at Bob Evans.

The porch floor was wet. I set one foot on it and stepped onto the threshold. Next thing I knew, I was stranded like a turtle unable to right itself thanks to the heavy backpack weighing me down.

Stunned, I lay there for a few seconds, one leg stuck in the partly open door.

I know what you’re thinking. “Help! I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up.”

That phrase has entered American pop culture and almost always gets a laugh.

But it is no laughing matter. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one in three adults age 65 and older will fall each year. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in that age group.

The 2010 rate for all nonfatal fall injures for all age groups was 43 per 1,000 population.

In 2010, estimated medical costs for fall injuries were $30 billion. Consider that fewer than half of those who fall talk to their health care providers about it.

Finally, falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.

The CDC offers the following tips to reduce and prevent falls: Exercise regularly, review medications for those that cause dizziness or drowsiness, get vision tested regularly, and make home modifications to add railing and grab bars and improve lighting.

That’s good advice regardless of a person’s age.

Singer Patsy Cline famously quipped that she was almost afraid to record “Crazy” because after she cut “I Fall to Pieces,” she was seriously injured in a car wreck.

I have the reverse problem. I’m already crazy. I’m more than a little worried that her earlier tune has become my theme song unbeknownst to me.

Step lightly, folks. And don’t drink the water.

— Young is a Register-Herald columnist. E-mail:

© Nerissa Young 2013