I can tell people are reading my articles! This week we have been slammed with patients needing to get their hearing aids serviced before the holidays ... and we are very happy you are taking due diligence concerning your hearing health. Yesterday, it seemed several people showed up at once. Someone actually said, “Are we having a Christmas party?” That may also be because Christmas music was playing in the background.

As we were heading to the mountains of Tennessee for a short Thanksgiving vacation I wrote the article about getting your hearing aid serviced before the parties and company of the holidays. So today, with that “trip” behind us, I am going to share with you some our experience.

Let’s talk about tripping. And I don’t mean the “art of vacation.”

I have written about “fall detection” in hearing instruments. Most people think it is an awesome thing. Whether or not you want a hearing instrument that can send out a text message alert is indeed a personal choice. What I would like to share is how a little fall can turn your world and your health upside down. Falls in people over the age of 65 have doubled in the last decade. In that age group, it is the leading cause of fatal injuries.

Our Tennessee vacation trip continued ... After arriving at the cabin (after delayed flights) Tuesday around 11 p.m., everybody crashed and reconvened in the morning for a relaxing morning with coffee and laughter. Plans made; off to Paula Dean’s for a late lunch. After lunch we headed up to Gatlinburg to do a little Christmas shopping. Barbara purchased tickets for the family for a dinner show. After a couple of hours and some hot chocolate, we decided to ride up to see the bridge with all the Christmas lights that is supposed to be the longest and brightest bridge in the country. It is new this year. As we take a leisurely stroll back to the car our trip suddenly changed.

Gatlinburg sidewalks are a combination of concrete and pavers. All of a sudden I heard what sounded like an old wood bat hitting/smacking a smushy baseball. Jerel and I were walking about five feet in front of Barbara. Dawn and Bonnie were walking beside her. As many of you know, Barbara has a brace on her right foot due to a foot that wants to pronate and break (she opted about five years ago not to have surgery). Because the paver sidewalk was so uneven, Barbara decided to cut behind her daughter Dawn to go over to the concrete portion of the sidewalk. Unfortunately, her foot got tangled up with the back of Dawn’s foot and down she went. Immediately we stood her up, she paused and then took about four steps to a bench and sat down. She said her knee hurt. I was so relieved to hear it was her knee. I asked her if she thought she needed to go to the emergency room. She said, “I guess.” Then she sat back and screamed in pain! Nope, not the knee. The ambulance loaded her up.

After hours of waiting on pain medicine and gasps for breath every time they moved her, they finally confirmed with a CT scan that the hip was broken. Great! Well, Barbara has AFIB, so as most of you know that means she is on blood thinners. Of course, they can not do surgery until they thicken up her blood. It took two days before they could safely do surgery. Two long days with strong pain meds that really didn’t do enough to control the pain of laying in bed with a broken hip. Finally, Friday morning after Thanksgiving the surgery was done. Because of her AFIB, they did a spinal tap anesthesia. In the wee morning hours of Saturday, about 15 hours after surgery and (after several hours of some side effects of the spinal tap), Barbara went into AFIB, and not just any AFIB.

After attempts by doctors and nurses and several medicines, the heart was simply not cooperating. The tachycardia was threatening her life. Code was called and the crash cart came flying into the room. One medicine started to work ... at 189 beats per minute, she was transported to ICU. Finally, after four hours they had the heart to a slower 120 beats and by six hours, finally a rate of 99. Unfortunately, it didn’t last very long.

Throughout the next several days she would go in and out of what they considered “a flutter.” Once I watched her heart rate go from 99 to 120 to 150 with just a blink of the eye. Because of this instability she did not really receive physical therapy. Maybe a total of 15 minutes and she had been pretty much on her back in bed since Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving. She was just miserable. Her body was running a marathon that she did not want to participate in. Any time she attempted to move, like to get up to use the bedside commode, her heart would just race. Finally, on Tuesday (four days after surgery) it was decided to do cardio version to try and get the heart back into rhythm. It worked. Tuesday evening she was transferred to a nursing home because she was so weak and then Wednesday morning she was moved to a rehab facility that Bonnie and I researched in Knoxville.

I think she has surprised everyone with her progress. Bonnie stayed in Knoxville with her for support and to make sure she was receiving the best care. Friday the 13th they returned home. The six-day trip turned into 18 days. She is getting around pretty good with the use of the walker and more rehab will be necessary. Please put Barbara Kesselring in your prayers. She is sorely missed at the office, but I am confident she will be back. Anyone wanting to send a card or note please send it to the office and we will make sure she gets it. The address is 130 S. Commerce Ave., Sebring, FL 33870

This will be a bump in the road for Barbara when it is all said and done, but a big bump for all involved — us, her friends, family, customers, the residents of The Palms of Sebring who rely on her and even her puppy CoCo Puff.

Falls are the leading cause of fatal injuries in people over the age of 65. Falls cause stress and financial burden. Falls can change your life forever. It can happen to anyone at anytime. Help to protect yourself by staying active. Lifting weights and building muscle strength provides better balance. If you have a hearing loss then wearing hearing instruments also improves your balance. To Hear Better Is To Live Better!

Roseann B. Kiefer, B.A., BC-HIS, is owner of Lampe and Kiefer Hearing Aid Center, Sebring. This information is not intended to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure your condition. Always talk to your doctor before following any medical advice or starting a diet or exercise program.