Rebounding From A Fall – My Personal Humpty Dumpty Story

October 6, 2010 · 54 comments

in Personal

Humpty Dumpty

Humpty Dumpty took a great fall ...

Have you ever felt like Humpty Dumpty after taking a huge fall? The fall may be the loss of a family member, the loss of a job, the loss of health or a physical injury.

How did you rebound from the fall?

Many of us once recited the Humpty Dumpty Poem:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the King’s horses,
And all the King’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again!

Whatever you have experienced or are going through, you can be put back together again! Chances are your life was different from before your own personal fall, but you adjusted – you rebounded.

I am currently in the rebounding process now after taking “a great fall” in September. Actually, I experienced a number of falls – a sequence of events I prefer to see as “life-changing growth opportunities.” It’s all been meant for good. Here is my personal summer and “fall” recap

Top of the World

I literally felt on top of the world at the beginning of September. The summer of 2010 was one of the best for my personal history books. Heck, what search marketer wouldn’t salivate at attending 3 conferences in 3 months and getting to do blog or radio show coverage for each?

SMX Advanced

SMX Advanced in Seattle kicked off the summer, and I liveblogged a few sessions. This was my first attempt at “live blogging” a search conference – oh boy!

BlueGlass LA

Attending the inaugural BlueGlass LA conference in July was phenomenal. David Harry of the SEO Dojo and I chatted about rich nuggets shared from Day 1:


What an honor to provide blogging coverage at SEOmoz PRO Seminar training in August. I was treated like a VIP! Everything about the conference was top-notch, as agreed by all attendees with whom I spoke. Coverage included:

I didn’t finish coverage for Day 2 of the SEOmoz conference, regretfully, due to unforeseen circumstances.

In summary, it was the busiest, most successful summer for networking, business and cycling.

  • Cycling: Training for Levi’s GranFondo, a 100-mile mass start bike ride with massive amounts of climbing on October 9. was going well. Heck, I logged 730 miles on the bike in July and 638 miles in August.
  • Business: My SEO consulting agency was (and is) kickin’ it, and I FINALLY launched the website.
  • Business: I had accepted an opportunity to work part-time with SEOmoz as an Associate (external staff helping with Q&A & blogging). I later had to decline due to what I’m sharing in this post.

It appeared the only limitations to success were time and energy. Admittedly, I was growing increasingly tired but blamed it solely on over-training and long work hours.

The Great Fall

October began in stark contrast to September. I was using crutches and recovering from a mild concussion! I began to feel like Humpty Dumpty, having fallen off a high wall.

I won’t go into too many details, but thought I’d be transparent about some changes in my life.

Medical Tests

I had medical tests in early September for a hereditary kidney condition – standard blood work plus ultra sounds. It was the first time I visually saw my kidneys, which are covered in cysts. I’ve had 3 ultra sounds before, but this was the first time I got to watch. While Google Instant was being unveiled to the world on September 8, I was viewing my internal organs. My life perspective instantly changed.

I’ve known about and managed the condition well for many years. It’s called Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) and is the reason my Dad died early in his life. The condition is not, however, my identity. I don’t focus on it a lot and eat right, exercise, etc. Heck, there’s too much life to be experienced and optimized!

Fortunately, exercise is essential and being addicted to cycling is good for the kidneys, as long as I stay hydrated and don’t go too hard. (Heck, how many people get Doctor’s orders to exercise!)


Blood test results were not favorable. Wake-up call.

It was time to adhere to my primary doctor’s ongoing advice to reduce stress, and stop to smell the roses more. Stress and epinephrine (aka adrenaline rush) is hard on your kidneys. One needs extra sleep. (I guess getting 3-4 hours of sleep a night blogging and uploading conference pictures isn’t that good either.)

I began reducing commitments in early September in order to focus on my health and meet client needs.

  • No additional blog posts, for now
  • No working with SEOmoz PRO members for Q&A, etc. <sniffle, sniffle>
  • Less time on Twitter
  • Much less time on FaceBook
  • Less time in forums and online reading of superfluous stuff
  • More rest, quiet time and reading, the type where you turn pages in a book.

Stuff Happens

Well, they say stuff happens in threes.

Number 2 hit a week later when I got sick and ended up in Urgent Care. UGH, I was scheduled to do the Connect for a Cure Century that day! But, I bounced back after a few grueling days, yet I was bummed about missing the event. Could I still be ready for Levi’s GranFondo bike ride?

A Humorous Aside

The 1st 200 cyclists who signed up for this century got a personally-signed copy of Chris Carmichael’s book, “The Time-Crunched Cyclist: Fit, Fast, and Powerful in 6 Hours a Week.”  When we signed up, I was so busy that I told my husband that he could read the book FOR me. Well … my hubby told Chris what I had said, got the book signed:

Chris Carmichael signed Dana's book - Time Crunched Cyclist

Chris Carmichael signed Dana's book - Time Crunched Cyclist

Third “Fall” Is A Charm

OK, after getting back on the bike and getting a few decent rides in, I met up to ride with the crew of Cycle Folsom on Monday night, September 27. What a blast!

As some may know, cyclists can get leg cramps after riding and not properly hydrating and stretching. Well … my right calf muscle “charlie horsed” at 3:45am.

I woke up. Stood. Bent down to grab the calf. The only things I remember after that are:

  • Hearing my neck crack;
  • My husband at my side calling my name.

My face was planted into the rug.


  • The crown of my head hurt BURNED in pain.
  • My left toe cried out as my ankle throbbed.
  • It hurt to lift my head due to whatever compression occurred in the neck.

My head had hit the mirrored closet door – pushed it off the tracks.

What happened? Surely I had fallen back to sleep. I later learned I passed out due to low blood pressure, possible dehydration as well. (I had never passed out before.)

It’s called “vasovagal (vasomotor) syncope” when blood pools in the thorax area and doesn’t make it to the head.

The Result

Crutches, headache, blurry eyes, blurry brain … The glare of the computer was literally painful to the back of my eyes for days. I’ve been recovering from a minor concussion as a result of the fall.

Putting Humpty Dumpty Back Together

I knew this was just another step in a fast-moving treadmill of awakenings that were shaping my priorities and my habits and how I spent my time.

“Coincidentally,” in early September, I had scheduled a bike ride months earlier to meet with a good friend, Sherri Eklof. She had just learned of a book on the NY Times Best Seller’s List, “One Month to Live – 30 Days to a Regrets-Free Life.” Sherri informed me that Lakeside Church, where I used to go, had organized small groups to meet for 6 weeks to study the book together (92 small groups, amazingly).

I was interested in the book but not the study or church. I was too busy!! Heck, the group Sherri would attend on Thursday nights conflicted with my Tuesday/Thursday training schedule!

BUT, wait. Was all this happening for a reason? It felt as if God was talking to me through all this amazing timing of events. My mind raced. I prayed. I bought the book the next day. Below are a couple excerpts from the Introduction that captivated me:

“Most of us, if we knew we only had one month to live, would live differently. We would be more authentic about who we are and more deliberate about how we spend our time. But such a contrast begs the question: What keeps us from living this way now?

“Our technology and modern conveniences have revolutionized our twenty-first century lives but at what price?”

“Looking at old tombstones, I can’t help but recognize that entire lives are now reduced by two dates and one little dash. … It comes down to what’s in the dash. … We get to decide how we’re going to use our dash.”

The Dash

How often do you think about your dash? Or are you too busy, caught in a 24/7 adrenaline rush?

Was my dash going to equate to “too busy” to do this or that?

On September 3rd, my Mom opened her heart and shared she was not sure why she had moved to Folsom, CA. (I moved here almost 3 years ago, and she retired and moved here to be near me almost 2 years ago, away from her friends and extended family.) She said,

“You’re so busy, and I hardly ever see you. I’m happy you’re doing so well and understand, but …”

My heart broke! After all, she is my best friend. Oh, gosh.

I find time for Twitter and FaceBook, spending hours with friends and acquaintances, but they are not anywhere as dear to my heart as my Mom. I realized that time online and social media was consuming a large part of my dash.

Adjustment Began

I soon became “addicted” to my daily One-Month-to-Live reading and started adjusting schedule. And, yes, I joined that Thursday night study! The gauntlet had been thrown down, and I accepted the challenge.

The Doctor’s Appointment

September 30th was the “big day” to see the Nephrologist. Interestingly, I was totally calm. I had my notes, lab tests and positive attitude as I hobbled into his office with one lame foot.

The doctor was able to put together a number of results to see the full picture. My kidneys were not failing.

  • My blood pressure was too low, which caused the results to show high toxin levels in my blood. (Kidneys need good blood pressure to filter toxins.)
  • I was dehydrated, as indicated by additional out-of-normal-range test results.
  • My “fainting spell” resulted from a combination of low blood pressure and dehydration. “Coincidentally” the accident helped him confirm test abnormalities. What timing!
  • In addition, he diagnosed me as anemic.  This explained the extreme tiredness for the past few months and why I wasn’t recovering as well from my training.

Have you ever been so happy you could just cry? I was more emotional leaving the doctor than when I walked in thinking things were much worse!

Rebounding Back Upon the Wall

While feeling like I was cracked open on the ground, I made some big changes to rebound from my fall(s). I am spending more time:

  • Reading, praying, prioritizing, and setting personal and professional goals.
  • With family and friends, in real life.
  • Going to a chiropractor who specializes in sports medicine, something I’ve needed to do for years.

And …

  • I took a few days away from social media and limited computer usage while healing from the concussion. (The glare of the monitor hurt my eyes.)
  • I took a couple days off from client work. (I am thankful for the personal relationships with my clients, who really care.)

One client said,

“Maybe this will be a Shakabuku (spiritual kick to the head). We could all use some enlightenment.”

It has been a spiritual, supernatural, series of experiences. Humpty Dumpty is being put back together again. I will rebound with a life that operates a little differently but a lot sturdier, stronger and more purposed about how and with whom I spend that dash.

I’m now thankful for the adversity and the fall that knocked some sense into me.

Amazingly, I have lost that urge to constantly check for new email, tweets or FaceBook updates.

I’ve become addicted to turning pages of books! Along with “One Month to Live” and thinking about ways to live a regrets-free life, I am savoring Vanessa Fox’s “Marketing in the Age of Google.”

One Month to Live & Marketing in the Age of Google

Dana's Reading: "One Month to Live" & "Marketing in the Age of Google"

Getting back to the top of the world and climbing the wall of life requires spending some time getting “rebuilt” on the ground. Work on the foundations of your life in the rebounding process. Think about how you are spending your discretionary time.

How are you spending your dash?

In closing my personal Humpty Dumpty story, I especially liked this quote shared by Warren Whitlock on Twitter:

“We can throw stones, complain about them, stumble on them, climb over them, or build with them”
Warren Whitlock

Well done, Warren!

Thank you to friends who have been there encouraging and supporting me as I rebound!

Creative Commons LicensePhoto Credit – Humpty Dumpty: / CC BY 2.0


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