Fallophobia = fear of falling

Not all people like heights. The fear of falling is possibly related to fear of unknown depths. There's a risk of drowning, getting lost, flailing, crashing into a hundred pieces. Few of us would voluntarily walk off a plank, whether it's in a water park, on a pirate ship, or at the precipice of a major life decision that changes everything.

For the elderly, the concern of falling is real, and practical. Many medical charts of old folks at skilled nursing facilities begin with, "admit date: [ten years ago]; reason for admission: patient fell at home." All it takes is loss of balance, not landing right, and not being to get up, not being able to reach a phone. It's okay to fall, but only so long as there's people to help one get up, and proper care for fractures to heal.

Bones, like hearts, can be broken every which way. A greenstick fracture, a break on just one side, usually happens in children because their bones are resilient enough to only half-break. While a closed fracture remains hidden, an open or compound fracture's a gruesome sight--the broken, exposed white bone protruding from bloody flesh and skin. A spiral fracture results from twisting motion, and an oblique fracture runs at a diagonal. A comminuted fracture is broken into what seems like a hundred little pieces, tiny fragments suspended in soft tissue.

But bones can heal, albeit slowly, imperfectly, leaving behind a bump even in the best case scenario. Bone grows back eventually, but without proper physical therapy, loss of mobility, strength and independence can become a life sentence.

Maybe the human dislike of loneliness is also a fear of falling alone. If one fails or falls with others, at least they have one another. So people partner up, form study groups, make Golden Girls pacts with friends to room together in old age. Support in any form--psychological, physical, functional, financial--makes a difference.
I am grateful towards all of you who have supported me in endless ways this past year, because I certainly couldn't have done nursing school alone.

Also, a big thank you to the Stewart Family, the Grasmoen Family, the Northern CA Organization of Associate Degree Nursing Programs Directors, and Golden Valley Health Center for their scholarship awards. You have helped hold me up, and I will pay the good will forward through serving patients and their families, as well as advocating support, education, and access for those who need it the most.


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