A 'trip' to the theatre

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“Watch your step!”

“Take your time!”

“Be careful!”

My wife and daughter are constantly reminding me that I am not as young as I used to be and have to be very careful to avoid falling. My health insurance company recently sent me a pamphlet on avoiding falls, and the AARP magazine constantly reminds me to watch my step.

I recently went to the Providence Performing Arts Center to see “Anastasia,” following my usual procedure of dropping Joyce off at the front door, where the congenial Bob, dressed in a smart red coat, opens your door and helps those in need out of the car.

Because I am thrifty (one of the Boy Scout laws) I drive around looking for a free on-street parking space…not easy with most spaces taken up by construction sites and restaurant valet parking.

After driving around for 10 minutes, I found a spot on Chestnut Street, about four blocks from the theatre. I walked briskly to reach the theatre before the curtain went up, cutting across an empty macadam parking lot.

I tripped, falling forward and hitting the right side of my head, my right hand and chest, and my left knee. I lay there stunned, calling for help, but with no one in sight, while blood gushed profusely from my head.

Struggling to stand, I tried to stop the bleeding with my handkerchief, and slowly and painfully made my way to the theatre lobby, where ushers were encouraging patrons to take their seats. Suddenly I realized that everyone had stopped still to look at this tattered, bloody old soul staggering into the theatre. Lonnie, PPAC’s security guard saw me, called the on-duty EMT and guided me into the men’s room to assess damages. Looking in the mirror, my legs buckled as I stared at the bloody mess. (Being on Coumadin didn’t help things).

I cleaned up as they tried to stop the bleeding, gently put me in one of their wheelchairs, and called for an ambulance.

Meanwhile, usher Mike Ellis went to get Joyce from her seat, and the staff of the theatre stayed with me as I was transferred to the ambulance and taken to the Rhode Island Hospital ER. After five hours of EKG’s, CAT Scans, x-rays, a tetanus shot, tubes in my arms for saline and pain killers (standard procedure for anyone over 65 who falls), it was miraculously determined that I had not broken a single bone.

“The good news,” said the attending doctor, “is that you have no broken bones. The bad news is that you are going to be very sore when you wake up in the morning.”

That turned out to be a very accurate diagnosis.

Two weeks later, I still had the scabs, soreness, bruises and black eye to be the recipient of “You should see the other guy” and “So Joyce hit you?”

I’m lucky. No casts, no heart problem, just aches and pains and bruises that will heal in time.

I learned my lesson: Pick up your feet; walk slowly; use handrails and canes if you need them; watch where you are going; use a flashlight; don’t walk alone; take your time.

By the way, we went back to PPAC the following evening to see “Anastasia.”

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