Like a lot of my friends, both real and virtual, I usually walk my dogs alone. Even pre-coronavirus I generally chose routes where we wouldn't see many people or dogs, as those are the sort of walks we prefer. All well and good, but let me tell you a little story...
On a sunny Bank Holiday Monday, which also happened to be Vinnie's birthday, I decided we would walk a particular route that we hadn't done for a while - part of the South West coast path. This route includes woods as well as a fairly quiet, remote cove - Vinnie would get some off lead time around water, especially for his birthday. I've walked this route and variations of it problably hundreds of times over the years. It's less than a five minute drive from home, and it's a beautiful area.
The best laid plans, and all that... Probably no more than five minutes in to the walk I tripped on a rock. I usually have pretty good balance, but when I fall I do it in style! On this occasion, I face planted with my full, not inconsiderable, weight. On to a rock. A pointy rock. I basically head butted a pointy rock with the middle of my forehead with all my weight behind me. I'm fairly certain I swore at that point. Then I probably said 'ow'. Then I said 'It's OK, it's OK, I'm alright, I'm OK'.
For once though, I wasn't talking to my dogs. It was one of those rare occasions when my husband, John, had come for a walk as well. As my hand went to my head, I could feel the lump that was already growing. In very short order, John was on the phone calling for an ambulance. I was telling him not to bother - we could walk back to the car and he could drive me to the hospital. For I was certain that a hospital visit was probably not an over-reaction in this instance.
John explained what had happened, and then fumbled about trying to describe exactly where we were. I told him a few times that I had 'What3Words' on my phone, but he ignored that... As he came off the phone, a couple of walkers were approaching - he asked them to head back to the road to try and flag the ambulance. After they left, I convinced him that I could get up and walk so we set off. As we were walking back, the ambulance service called to get a better idea of where we were - as we were moving, I was able to tell them the exact road name that we would be on.
We reached the end of the footpath, and were actually met by a Coastguard vehicle - they'd heard the call and happened to be passing so had pulled in. Moments later, the ambulance was there. The paramedics went through all the relevant checks, and as expected strongly recommended that I go to hospital to be monitored. The last place I wanted to go in the current climate, but I was compos mentis enough to know it was the sensible thing to do. So I had my first ever trip in an ambulance, whilst John took the dogs home in the car and to await the call to collect me.
I was at the hospital for about an hour in the end. I had remained conscious throughout, no vomitting, no issues with my eyesight and no other real concerns. The actual wound wasn't even worthy of a dressing. I was sent on my way with a leaflet about head injuries, detailing things to look out for and the relevant action to take.
Onto the real point of this blog - what if John hadn't been with me? The majority of the time, he wouldn't know when I head out for a walk, let alone where I am going. On this occasion, I would have been able to call him and/or an ambulance and the outcome would have been similar. But what if...? I could easily have knocked myself out, or I could have been further in to the walk. Or I could have been on a route where no people would have passed. Maybe I would have had no phone signal, or I'd smashed my phone as I fell. Or, or, or... I'm not usually one to dwell on the darker side of things, but I think this topic does deserve some attention. Of course John would have noticed if I hadn't come home within a reasonable time (although that's not necessarily of much use if he had no idea where I went!) How about for all you people that live alone? Have you considered what could/would happen in a similar situation?
Of course, this was a freak accident - it's not going to happen to everyone, and I can only hope it never happens again to me! I do think it's worth people thinking about, though - just in case. Stay safe, and please make sure somebody has your back.
As for me - I will try to make sure I let John know when and where I'm going, as well as when I'm safely home. He'll appreciate that!
And for the record - Vinnie took full advantage of the fact that his lead had been dropped to have a romp around the woods! Ripley was very keen to make sure that I was OK, and made sure I stayed on the floor.