Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Be Careful...

Be careful what you ask for, you might get it.

After nearly three months "home bound" and rarely leaving the house, Workers' Comp decided I no longer needed an aide, therefore I am no longer stuck in the house-I have been freed! I can drive short distances, like to physical therapy.

I felt like a bird whose cage has suddenly been opened.

I decided I had to do something exciting now that I was out. I chose the Annual Neighborhood Progressive Christmas Dinner for my exciting event. It is a party that follows Christmas. We start at one house for appetizers, a second for salad, a third for entrees, and a final house for dessert. The celebrants include everyone who live in the fifteen houses in our little Historical District, kids, boyfriends, girlfriends, parents, grandparents, partners, anyone who happens to be around. It is a chance to catch up in winter, when most of us hibernate.

For me, the exciting part was to be getting all dolled up to go-my first shower alone, nice clothes, make up, real shoes-as opposed the my 5x sweats and Birkenstocks I've been hanging out in. I planned go out and knock my neighbors dead with my whole get up. A few had all seen me grubby, cranky, and in pain, most had not seen me at all for the few months. Now I would have the opportunity to show off a bit, my whole weight loss, my one set of nice clothes that fit. And I knew it would get me out among people, a real struggle in my present life.

I was looking forward to it all week. Saturday dawned gray and gloomy, but I was happy. I went to physical therapy, discovered that driving on bumpy roads (the only kind we have in CT) is quite painful. I didn't care. Came home, took a nap, then a shower. In my 5x bathrobe, I wandered into the kitchen to start making the appetizer I was taking. My time line was set: make food, get dressed, find and apply makeup, find shoes, take cane and food and set off up the street.

Thinking of all this, I opened a my pantry door, reached in, then felt myself take a small step backwards, then another larger step. First I was surprised. Then the news flash sliced through my brain: "Oh sh*t, I am out of control." And in that split second, I was. I reached for the doorknob, and missed. Blasting through my head was a mantra like cry: "Don't fall on your right shoulder!" I turned left, aiming for the table. My feet seemed to have a life if their own, pirouetting in a complex series of shambling moves over which I had no control. I missed the table because I was now moving faster and faster, reminiscent of an out of control whirling dervish.

By now I knew that I was going to go down. Unfortunately I was headed towards the edge of the kitchen counter. After that things got too complicated to document clearly. I know I hit the edge of the counter, turned enough to eventually land on my (left) buttock. Somehow or other, I scraped my inner arm (left), banged my left chin and shoulder, then landed on the floor, hitting my head on the pantry trim on the way down.

When everything came to a stop, I lay on the floor, holding the top of my head, trying to assess where I hurt. At first I thought I had just banged my shoulder and head. But when I sat up there was blood on the floor. I took my hands away, and the were bloody too.

My first thought was: "There goes the party." I have promised Meg that anytime I fall, bang my head and bleed, I would call 911. So I did, grabbing a handful of napkins to staunch the flow of blood. The 911 operator told me to stay where I was. I told him I'd had to stand up to reach the phone, so I might as well go sit in the living room where I'd be comfortable.

Luckily I could grab some laundry in the dining room, because I did not want to greet the EMT's in my huge bathrobe. I found I had grabbed 5x sweats, but put them on anyway, trying to keep pressure on my wound, and talk to the 911 operator all at once. Then I sat there holding the phone and shaking.

But by now I was seeing the funny side of all this. The ambulance would arrive just as the entire neighborhood was heading toward cocktails. Sure enough, the ambulance rounded the corner and half a dozen neighbors came to huddle around the ambulance and worry. Claudia, God bless her, barged right past the EMT's to see if she could help.

So off to the hospital I went, giving the royal wave to neighbors as we bumped out of the village. [As an aside, if you have never ridden in an ambulance, and I hope you never do, the ride is very, very bumpy.] Sometime in the middle of all the chaos I had managed to call Meg, too, because she called Peggy, who
eventually arrived join me at the hospital.

We arrived at the ER to discover the waiting room overflowing, every cubicle filled, people lying on gurneys in the hall, nurses looking stressed, and the triage nurse frantic. She looked at me for 30 seconds and gave me my first big break of the day. She told the EMT's to take me right into Fast Track. As I got on the gurney, I began feeling silly... I shouldn't have called 911, I shouldn't make a big deal about hitting my head, there wasn't that much blood...

Peggy arrived and told me to shut up (that's what friends are for), and soon after, the doctor came in and said the same thing, only more nicely. He asked a lot of questions, peered at my head, and announced I had a mild to moderate concussion and needed stitches(!) After rummaging around looking for the surgical stapler, he gave up, and actually put in three stitches. Soon after, I was out and on the way home.(This is Fast Track at its best, but, alas, one needs to arrive by ambulance to get into Fast Track quickly!)

I did actually make the third venue of the party, clean, but scraggly haired, in smaller sweatpants, but size 5x on top, so I didn't have to bother my head, no make up, wearing white socks and Birks, with a headache to end all headaches, and Peggy along to prop me up. I made a quick round to tell everybody that I was okay, while Peg ate some dinner, then retired home quickly to my recliner, where I am still sleeping these days.

Such was my exciting event. Rather different from the one I had in mind.

I am still grappling with this, my third trip to the ER due to bloody falls in the last year. I have ordered an emergency button to wear around my neck, which will be good if I ever fall and am not able to get up, but does nothing to stop me from falling. I am unwilling to say so to Meg, who worries way too much about me, but I'm falling way too often, and (so far) none of the dozen or so doctors I've talked to have as much as a suggestion to help-except to be careful.

And I am!

Unfortunately, it's just not possible to be aware every minute. Most of us spend a lot of time spacing out as we move from one room to another, or reach into the cupboard. And as soon as I drift a bit, my feet start drifting, too, off to one side, or backwards, because I have no sense of my feet, and where they are. This leads to not having a real sense of where I am in space, a dangerous thing, in my experience.

And this does not take into account of my BP which drops twenty points when I stand up. This is easier to deal with- I just stand still for ten seconds until the dizziness passes. Except when I'm in a hurry and forget. But really, I'm much better at this than thinking about every step. My cardiologist actually put me on meds to raise my blood pressure, but it hasn't helped.

And such is life. I keep reminding myself that although I didn't have the
experience I wanted, I'm still free from my stay-at-home constraints. I am not exactly jumping with joy in my life, but tomorrow I will drive myself to p.t. again. Maybe by next month I'll be strong enough to put my walker into the car, so I can go walking at the Casino or mall. By spring, I'll be into onto other things. And if I fall? I'll haul myself up, once again, and keep going. As usual.

Blessings, Margo


Marc Olmsted said...

Oh Margo, Margo, Margo, Margo, Margo!
That was a painful entry!
Would you maybe consider a roommate who you will give a break on the rent in exchange for some help? Maybe a battered woman trying to transition from a shelter to get her life together? With a kid even perhaps? You could save each other's lives...Think about it.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you still made part of the party! I don't know you, etc., so it isn't my place to say, but Marc's suggestion about a roommate may be worth considering. Personally, I think they should not have taken away your aide.

Becky said...

Oh honey...I had such high hopes at the start of your entry. It sounded like it was going to be such a fun night. Have you thought about reorganizing your kitchen and other areas as if you were in a wheelchair? No reaching for items that are higher than your head. Heck, no reaching at all! If I had the cash, I'd be sending you one of those nifty personal mobility devices...from the scooter store or something.

Judith HeartSong said...

Hey Margo:) Becky might be on to something there about reorganizing things.... or, we're just gonna have to get you a cabana boy to have around.

Glad you made a part of the dinner, and as always your positive attitude inspires me. No more reaching for stuff this week, ok?

Lots of love and hugs, judi

hestiahomeschool said...

Dear God, what a terrifying entry. I am so sorry that this is happening to you. I've had concussions, and they are not fun.

I know y o uvalue your privacy, but maybe a room mate would be a good short term thing--or at the very least, get one of those buttons...do you use a walker?

Please take care of yourself, you are precious to me.
love, Kas