falling down the up staircase

Ever lose your step on an escalator, or moving sidewalk? If you have, then you know that doing so results in falling harder, on sharper surfaces, with greater risk of getting hurt, and more effort required to get yourself back up, steadied, and ready to continue, than if you were simply tripping over the curb.

Things You Cannot Do On The Escalator, Part 1: Spin pretty sparkly yarn (singles spun from Holiday Yarns Sparkle Fluff)

Oh, and of course, by the time you are upright, steady, and readytogo, anyone who was near you on the escalator before you fell is now waaaayyy up ahead of you, well on to their next stop on their journey.

Modern life. Escalator. See where I’m going with this?

Things move so FAST these days. Miss one day of Twitter and it’s nearly impossible to catch up on what you missed. Miss a few days on Ravelry and you more or less have to declare thread bankruptcy (“I can’t read everything I missed, it’s too much, so I’ll just start where we are now, sorry.”) just to be able to jump back in and participate.

Flowers do not care about escalators. They bloom regardless of up, down, or sideways.

For a while, a couple of years ago, my illness had me walking with a cane. Escalators, while theoretically possible, were an adventure in timing, thinking ahead, balance, and Paying Attention To Which Foot Was Where When. Most healthy folks just jump on and go…I had to wait until there wasn’t anyone waiting behind me, watch the stairs for a minute, noting the speed, the width of each step, the height, and get myself into position so that THAT foot went first, not the other one.

Then, more recently: Last year, I was fine, no cane, walking without any problems at all. I was even steady and confident enough to wear shoes that were a wee more cute than sensible. I had a rolling bag, and was in a hurry to catch a flight in a Texas airport…and I put my foot wrong on the steps of a steep, narrow escalator…and went down. Hard. Cut my arm on the edge of the step, bruised my face, twisted my hip, got my luggage so turned around that I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to get on my feet by the time I reached the top.

By the kindness of strangers, I got up with one step to spare at the end. I was sore, and while I wasn’t injured enough for medical attention, nor to commandeer a wheelchair, I was sore enough that I couldn’t do the full-on breakneck dash through miles of corridors that modern airline flight connections sometimes entail.

They were holding the door for me, and I got scowls from passengers already seated.

Cats do not use escalators. (Yet more evidence that they are superior beings.)

We are not tolerant of those who cannot keep up with the pace of the escalator…especially if that person is ourselves.

Note that I am pointing my finger towards my own chest.

Chronic illness sucks eggs. (Little seasonal reference there, still got my sense of humour.)

I’ve been tripping over the steps of Life’s Escalator a lot lately, as so many of us do when life hands out extra-big helpings of Challenge, whether the Challenge be chronic illness, death of a loved one, loss of a job, or a broken relationship. Doesn’t matter what it is. When the plate is too large, it’s next to impossible to hit the steps of the escalator at the proper pace, with the right timing, acting all the while as though we weren’t carrying that extra burden, as though our balance were not being affected by this big honkin’ platter we suddenly find ourselves coping with.

Thank you, all that is Good, for the kindness of strangers, the love of friends and family when those escalator stairs start rolling faster.

You Can't Design Pretty Mittens On an Escalator, either

And please, don’t beat yourself up if you fall (rather: when, it’s almost always when not if). It’s not your fault the escalator only moves at one speed, when human beings all each move at their own individual speeds. It’s not your fault the escalator was designed for some average person whose stats don’t match any real person’s stats…because statistics (and their cousin, damn statistics)  are a mathematical concept. Someone took that mathematical concept, decided it was True Enough to use as a basis for Real Moving Stairs, and went on designing for a reality that isn’t really there.

It’s OK to get yourself to a steady place, to take the time to bandage your cuts, put ice on that twisted muscle, nurse that broken heart, rest up from the journey’s rigors. Sure, other people are far ahead of you, and the plane might leave without you. Sure, other folks might be annoyed with you for being slow, or for not being where they think you ought to be (according to their schedule, of course).

(Finger still firmly pointed at chest.)

Things you can't do on an escalator: Spin and knit a shawl from wool/silk batts you carded yourself.

It’s also perfectly OK to take the ramp. Yes, it’s waaayyy over there, and it’s a longer route, and slower, and further…but it’s OK to take it if you need it.

Either way: You’ll get there. You might have to take the next plane…but there will be a next plane. You might have to deal with unhappy people…but someday, they will fall on an escalator and realize their lack of compassion.

And you know what?

You won’t really be left behind. And you won’t be forgotten if you fall behind. And your life isn’t “less,” (by whatever standard folks might wish to measure this by) than anyone else’s just because you do fall behind now and then.

People who care about you, who really know you and value who you are and what you have to contribute…they will be waiting for you at the top of the escalator whenever you finally do get there.

That is, if they haven’t already climbed down the up staircase–clambering over luggage and edging past all the other folks who are trying not to notice you down there on the ever-moving stairs–to help you to your feet.

Why no, it hasn’t been a hard month, why do you ask?


Ball of yarn. Wool, 2-ply, some shade of blue. No big deal, you say? Check out the date it was made. (!)

I promised puppy pics, didn’t I? Youngster practicing for future greatness.

What this Easter was lacking: Buffy Eggs, for that favourite slayer’s basket. (I do not want to meet the zombie vampire bunny that delivers these, thankyouverymuch.)

These are not puppies. However, they are baby pandas, so I am quite sure you will forgive me.

In the “I Don’t Even Know What To Say About This” Department: This. There are actually 3 of them available. Imagine that.

The History of the Tardis Prop: All The Blue Boxes. I don’t care what style you have in stock, just SEND ME ONE NOW PLEASE.

That’s what I’ve got today. I might have baby dove pics for you next time, plus pics of that sparkly yarn all plied up. 

Take care on those escalators, folks.

About sandi

Knitter. Spinner. Quilter. UFO Wrangler. Sometime bead artist and weaver. Two toddler-age kittens, 1 permakitten, 2 grownup cats, 1 beloved dog angel, 1 spouse, 1 crazy life. I suppose that the 5 cats make me 1 crazy cat lady; OTOH, apparently, yes, I do need that much feline supervision.
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22 Responses to falling down the up staircase

  1. Darlene says:

    When did all this escalator stuff happen?

  2. maryh says:

    Hope things are going better now. We’ll wait for you at the top of the escalator–sorry we couldn’t climb down to help you– we would have liked to.

  3. I was diagnosed with MS in 2006. I never know what tomorrow may bring. We all do the best we can with that darned escalator. Some days are absolutely wonderful. I just wish I could express it as well as you do.

  4. Meg says:

    I fell on that chronic illness escalator this fall, Nov 1, to be exact. OK Halloween, couldn’t get out of bed the next day. Chronic illness flares are seldom that precise but this one was. I’ve been dealing with a variety of types arthritis for over 20 years now, but I never fail to start out being mad at myself for not being able to do things. I have learned to be more gentle with myself but I always have to remember to do it. You’re right, the people who care are there waiting and they are the ones who matter. And creating or dreaming of and planning to create beautiful things brings it’s own healing. I hope spring brings a way off the escalator and the summer can be beautiful for you.

    You’re right about a couple other things. Chronic illness sucks. And you gotta keep your sense of humor. You’ve helped me do that in the past, wish I could do something to help you now.

  5. AnneS says:

    Dear Sandi,
    Escalators, banana peels, wicked curve balls – we all get them in various ways, some worse than others. Isn’t it wonderful to be able to just sit quiet and create something by hand, temporarily secure from the bedlam that is the world around and within us?

  6. Pat says:

    Hi Sandi,
    Chronic illness truly sucks. Been on that rollacoaster for more then 2 decades and still get frustrated with the limitations “it” places on my life. Can really relate to your description of getting on/off an escolador. Never sure if I will get on and/or off in one piece. Don’t know about you but don’t know what I would do without my husband, friends and pets. Sometimes the pets are the most helpful. They don’t try to fix the unfixable just sit in my lap and offer their caring. Reading about the things that you accomplish in spite of your illnes is inspiring. You show me that we can still be useful and productive. We just need to find ways to compensate for the limitations. Don’t know about you but gallows humor seems to work for me. Kind of takes the bite out of the “pain”. Hang in Sandi! Be good to yourself. We care.
    pat aka westies

  7. knittynana says:

    You always make me feel better. Thank you!

  8. Liberty Stickney says:

    Oh Sandi, you put so much joy in our lives! I wish none of us ever had any kind of problem, I also have had many difficult times in my life! I wish you only joy and happiness for the rest of your life, but when that isn’t possible, just sit down and do a little knitting! Huge hugs to you!

  9. Rachel says:

    hugs….. just….. hugs

    I know that escalator, I’ve been both the one tripping on it and the one climbing down to help at various points in my life. You bring enough joy, illumination and happiness into the world that we will all happily wait for you whenever you need to lag behind or take the long way round

  10. Tina M. says:

    Sandi, I hear you. I really, really do. Bravo to you for speaking about what it’s like for you, and letting others know about your challenges. Being sick can be an isolating experience. Sharing your story as you see fit lets others know what it’s like to be less than healthy, or that they’re not alone.

    I have an invisible illness that makes every day an exercise in pain (sometimes mild, sometimes debilitating), exhaustion, and spirit fatigue. It’s easy to be hard on yourself.

    There’s so much to do and it’s not going to do itself.
    You’re just being lazy.
    Don’t talk about what it’s like, no one likes a whiner.
    You’re young, so get it moving.
    It’s not fair to expect your husband to shoulder more of the burden than he already does.
    You could have done so much more than you did.
    Other people have it so much worse than you do.

    The litany goes on and on. The worst part is that unless there’s a physical clue to the fact that you’re sick, it makes it hard for people to understand that the body isn’t an able one. You wouldn’t know by looking at me that just picking up a toddler, attending more than one event over a weekend, sitting in the car for long rides, or bending and stretching during light cleaning can leave me in additional pain for days.

    I’m sorry you were hurt and that it made your everyday life that much harder. I hope you’re feeling much better, and that your spirits are good otherwise. It’s always a pleasure to talk to you when I see you at shows, and you’re the kind of good soul that I admire. Keep shining your light, whenever and however you can.

  11. Naomi says:

    I much prefer the stairs, when I can find them. (Though I’m still not healed from falling up the non-moving stairs…) (Yes, I got the metaphor.)

    And that is an *adorable* cat photo.

  12. Lisa C says:

    sending smiles your way!

  13. Genia Potter says:

    Dear blog-friend:
    Take your time; we’ll all wait at the top of the escalator. If we haven’t been there yet, we will be someday.
    Take care of yourself.
    And thank you for the pandas!

  14. Nancy says:

    Oh Sandi – I’m so sorry to hear your challenging time has continued with this fall on the escalator. I can totally relate to your experience and that of many of the other commenters. Over the last few years I’ve made the choice to use my cane or a scooter more during times of flare-up, stress, or travel, and now routinely request wheelchair transport at airports. It’s made for fewer injuries, less pain, and less tears from complete and total exhaustion. It took me a while to decide that if assistive devices or a little assistance could help me get back to living, then it was worth using them. I hope your bumps and bruises heal quickly. I’m sending hugs your way.

  15. molly says:

    hugs to you, my dear. bravo for your courage to share. and bravo for ‘keeping on keeping on’. we all love you, you know, and we would all help you up the escalator, or wait for you if we were ahead.
    thank you.
    and thank you for the chispas.
    hugs, molly

  16. mimipresbytera says:

    So beautifully articulated! You are a blessing to all who follow you. I am encouraged by your strength. Wiseheart, your name suits you.

  17. Deb says:

    Please take care and go at your own pace. I’ll wait for you.
    Hugs, Deb

  18. pattie says:

    Bless you, Sandi.
    Hope the next weeks treat you better. (beautiful pics, as usual)

  19. Gail says:

    I always say, “there is a curve ball every day.” Some days it is just worse than others, some it is just funny.

  20. Catherine Cooke says:

    Having lived with MS for many, many years there are certainly days that are better and some one would like to frog and re-knit. I definitely agree with Nancy that you should use transport at the airport when your energy is low or physical challenges greater. When you book your ticket tell them that you have a physical challenge and it would be helpful to have transport from gate to gate when making changes they will send or should send a scooter to pick you up.
    Once when we went to Germany and I knew standing in the line for pastports and immigration would be a bit much, I requested a wheelchair one of best decisions I ever made. Assistive devices make us more independent and conserve energy for doing the things we love like knitting.
    As for escalators I can manage to go up, but can’t go down because I have misplaced my depth perception. Catherine

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