You never know …

A few days ago I was doing some early morning house cleaning while barefooted and still in my pajamas, knowing that I’d work up a sweat with the vacuum cleaner and so saving my shower until the cleaning was done. I had started in the bathroom and was leaning over the edge of the tub and scrubbing the far wall a bit too hard when — you guessed it — my foot slipped on a wet spot and I came crashing down.

I landed full force on my right side, waist high, just at the point where the big pelvic bone called the ilium is just beneath the surface.

It hurt.

But, I caught my breath, said “Ouch,” and decided it would be better to keep moving than to sit around and get stiff. I pointedly didn’t look at the sore spot, but went about cleaning for another 90 minutes before putting up the vacuum and heading to the shower. For the first time, I looked at my side, where I expected to see a bruise forming, but the only color came from a patch of blood: the sharp edge of the tub had driven the waistband of my pajamas right through the skin and made a deep cut that clearly needed attention (I’ll spare you further details or a picture, but the word “liposuction” comes to mind).

An hour later I had six fresh stitches and a delightful conversation with the doctor, who had never had a stitch or staple and jokingly complained that people like me get more than our fair share of sutures and don’t leave any for him.

Two days later, I realized that I’d actually cracked the inch thick cultured marble shelf on the edge of my tub.

Double ouch. I must have one tough pelvis.

The episode reminded me that hurt can go further than we expect — and not just to ourselves or to inanimate objects, but to real live people. There are times that we might say something critical to someone, or make a remark that we think is just joking around, only to discover later (if we discover it at all) that our words have cut deeply and caused more damage than we know.

It has reminded me to be more careful, lest I leave some dear soul needing stitches, or with a crack in an already troubled sense of self-esteem.

Perhaps it could remind you, too.

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