There's a lot to be said for bungalows. They don't have staircases but our 1920's semi-detached house does have one. By my rough calculations, in the twenty four years we have lived here, I have descended that staircase 34,000 times and never once have I fallen - until today.
It was just before nine o'clock this morning. I donned my designer dressing gown and began the usual descent having already decided that today's breakfast would be "Cocopops", a banana and a big mug of tea. But half way down the stairs, I slipped and my back was suddenly slammed against the steps before I tumbled down to the hallway like a sack of potatoes. I was really shocked.
In that moment, I imagined a broken back, a wheelchair, the end of country walks, back trouble to the end of my days, a hospital visit, physiotherapy, death. I crawled into the front room and lay supine on the sofa, trying to get my breath back and to simply calm down. It wasn't how I wanted Friday to commence.
And then the phone went. It was Mike - an old teaching colleague who now lives in Devon and seldom gets back to Sheffield. He wanted to come round for a natter. I know I should have been more stoical - after all, there are worse things than falling down one's staircase - but I informed him about the accident and assured him I didn't need an ambulance.
By now, I had recovered from the initial shock. Even though I felt as if I had been kicked in the back by a seaside donkey, I ventured to the kitchen to make the mug of tea I had promised myself. I was grateful that I could walk at all and already my wheelchair imaginings were evaporating.
I had a shower and then Mike came round. It was really nice to see him. He was always such a lovely man - funny, intelligent and caring - a man who can easily talk the hindlegs off donkeys or make you forget the idea that you've just been kicked by one! And when he left I took a handful of paracetamol and ibuprofen tablets and thought I'd find out a bit more about staircase falls.
A study conducted in 2000, concluded that each year in Great Britain around 1000 people die because of tumbling downstairs and an estimated 100,000 visit hospitals with injuries caused by such falls. Some of those injuries can be life-changing. Today has been a very uncomfortable day for me but I can walk and I haven't had to call an ambulance. It could have been a lot worse and only time will tell if this event will be followed by future back troubles.
It just goes to show. You can be trundling along merrily through your life and then wham-bam thank you man - everything could change in a trice. Our daughter Frances has just related the tale of a former work colleague who is now in intensive care with two broken arms and a suspected broken neck following a car crash up near Leeds on Wednesday night. He wasn't driving. The young professional woman who had been behind the wheel was arrested at the scene. She had been drinking.