Sunday, May 24, 2009

Yesterday I fell

Not a graceful little half-fall, where you manage to catch yourself feeling woozy in time to fold nicely onto the floor, chair, or closest hard surface, but a full out, "let's see how much damage I can do on the way down, before I hit my face - and any other available and tender body parts - on every sharp corner and solid piece of wood like the table and FLOOR" kind of a fall.

And can you imagine that that was not even the worst part of the fall - the actual falling? No, no - the aftermath is so much worse.

Because I was alone when I fell, and I would have liked, if possible, to keep the information to myself.

It happens: I fall. It's a part of my disability, the reason I am in a wheelchair in the first place, an unwelcome reminder on any given good day that I am not nearly as well as I like to pretend I am. Nowadays, I mostly know when I am pushing too hard, and don't even attempt to transfer from chair to bed on my own when I am feeling that way. I just ask Mum to help me get from point A to point B, and don't mention it's because I'm afraid I might fall on my face. (Thus explaining one of those confusing parts that SisterCh likes to harp on: "Why do you ask for help doing things I've seen you do on your own?" Her explanation, is, of course, that I do it for the attention. The actual explanation is that I want to avoid the need for emergency medical attention, but hers fits her "you are making things up" theory much better.) But I am at Grandmother's house, so unless I wanted to ask a nearly 92 year old to help lift my fat ass, I was on my own as far as transfers went yesterday.

And yesterday was a fabulous day - I saw Youngest Nephew for the first time in a month, and we talked and drew, and played games and blew bubbles and I tried to teach him how to use the speed motion capture mode on my camera. It was great. Exhausting, but great. Pain level high, but happiness level high too, so who can complain?

So, after he left, I needed my heating pad, which was in the other room. Plugged into the wall, low down on the wall. I got it out, feeling particularly woozy after the bending over (as usual), and waited a minute before I got back in the chair, and came to 'my' room across the hall. Which is actually their den, with it's lovely & lifesaving pull out couch, on the other side of which is the plug I need to access to get the heating pad in my hand to actually warm up. So, I scooted carefully across the bed, put my feet on the floor, and tried to leaaaan over a bit to reach the plug. No can do: plug is blocked by a speaker and leaning over any further is prevented by a rocking chair. I considered just laying down without the heating pad, but did I mention: OUCH. Must make things even the tiniest bit better. (If you've been here long, you know that I will use the ice/heat numbing capabilities in the middle of both heat waves and blizzards - every little bit of relief is necessary at any possible times.) Next option: crawling, which, while painful manages to cover two not-fainting-now bases - am not standing, and therefore my blood won't pool in my feet, and if I do faint, I am closer to the floor and will, therefore, get hurt less. But straight crawling is also out - I'm going to have to stand to get through the space between the speaker and the chair, and then I'm home free.

Since I've already told you I fell, I suppose you can guess what happened when I stood up - ever so slightly! - to try to get through the tight space? Exactly: kaboom. I banged my face on both the corner of the speaker and the floor, and the rest of me on lots of corner type things and edges and then the floor. So, yay for pain management technique, you idiot, now you are in even more pain. AND you are trapped in a corner.

Because after I pass out, even though it's quick, it sometimes takes me a while to be able to sit up again, takes a while for my coordination (such as it is) to come back, takes a while for me to be able to get past this new pain to a point where I am willing to believe I might actually be able to live with it. And so, 20 minutes later, I am sitting up, stuck in the corner, because there is NO WAY I am standing up again to get out of here... even I am not that stupid.

So I try pushing the speaker over, but the computer is plugged in, and I'm afraid that if I push it any further, the computer will take a tumble too. Not acceptable. I try pushing the rocking chair (which is of the lazy boy variety, not the light and airy wicker type), and I manage to nudge it over a few inches until it bangs into a table. Alrighty then. Can I get to my knees in the space I've made?

Still no.

Plus, also? After passing out, I sometimes feel very pukey. I don't know why, and I've never asked the doctor, but sometimes I do even throw up. So now, as I'm trying to unwedge myself through the space, I also am trying very hard to not throw up. Because the only thing worse than being stuck, in lots of pain, in the corner, is being stuck, in lots of pain, wedged in the corner and sitting in vomit. I speak from experience here. So I did all of the little breathing tricks you do when you're trying not to throw up - quick, small breaths, slow deep breaths, breathing just through your mouth - and I put my (now throbbing) head against the chair, against the speaker, and, finally, back against the cool floor while I waited for each wave of naseau to pass.

After about 25 minutes, with one foot way past the numbing tingles and totally into flat out asleep territory, and the other starting on it's way, and with very little additional progress made, I decided I would not be able to get out of this on my own. You may call me stubborn, it's ok: I've heard it before. But the thing is, not only do people make a huge deal out of the passing out, not only is my grandmother a championship level worrier already, not only was there the added complication that I could feel my pants sliding down in the back but there was no way I'd be able to shift my weight enough to pull them up before help arrived, but my only means of help was Uncle Jack, who has been sick as a dog all week and I didn't want to disturb him.

And I am making it seem funny here, and it is now, looking back, but sitting there? Knowing that all you have to do is move 1 foot - maybe 18 inches - until you are safely on the bed, and knowing that you Can. Not. Do. It.? Is impossibly difficult to describe. I knew I couldn't do it, but admitting it? Felt like giving up. I felt weak and useless and stupid for getting myself into that position in the first place. It's demeaning to ask for help, even when you are used to it, even when you know you don't have any other choice: sometimes it just is.

Also, and I may not have mentioned this about my grandmother's house - she has a hard time hearing, so the TV in the living room (the ONLY TV in their entire house, if you can believe it) is so loud that I can 'watch' an entire show from my perch across the hall. It's loud enough that I wear the earplugs I take to the movies if I am sitting in the living room watching it with her. So I had to wait for a break in the action before Uncle Jack heard me. Do you know how rare it is for a television to be absolutely silent?

Rare. Trust me.

45 minutes later, I was finally rescued - there was, gratefully, no flashing action, as my pants remained low on my hips and my uncle remained in front of me. It took him about 45 seconds to help me get onto the bed, from which I have yet to move. (It's about 15 hours later. I really need to pee.) He, thankfully, understands about Grandmother and the worrying, and so did not say anything to her after he helped me up - although he did some worrying on his own, which was sweet, but I was so upset, I don't think I handled it very well.

The rest of the night passed without incident (but with a heating pad, as UJ plugged it in for me), and I'm dreading what I see in the mirror this morning, because I can feel how swollen my face is. Explaining that away may not be quite so easy. But I'm only a little worse for the wear, and I'm going to stay in bed today (with exceptions for the bathroom, because, really: 15 hours is a lot), and tomorrow I am going to the hotel to take a very nice, very hot shower, and that will be AWESOME, because I definitely need it. I'd go today if I could.

The physical part was tough - I'm hurting today, I won't lie - but I am constantly surprised by how much emotional strength I need to get through the things my illnesses bring. It's taken me years to realize that admitting to the emotional difficulties of my disability is not admitting to weakness, or looking for pity, or being overly dramatic: It's hard, this constantly accepting that you have limitations, this knowing that something that "should" be easy for you to accomplish is going to be harder than suddenly sprouting fins or wings or claws (unless you are an X-Man). It may even be impossible.

It's hard to accept that, but I can do it.

Bruised face and all.


Crazed Mom said...

Oh my goodness honey, you are breaking my heart. You've had such a difficult year and I know how hard it is for you NOT to be home. (Remind me to take down your sister whenever I meet her)

I wish I was there. Just to do things like get your heating pad for you. Helping you from place to place(us nurses are taught all the movement tricks to make it more managable).

Not to mention I'd be pounding on your doctor for some emergency hard core painkillers. I make awesome ice packs. I'd bring you several heating pads. One is never big enough.

Then I'd make you laugh because laughter is healing. I'd tell you all my nursing school stories I cannot tell on my blog. You'd be hysterical.

I miss you too. LOVE.

Sue Jackson said...

Wow. It's really great that you have such a good attitude and can laugh about it now, but wow. I'm very fortunate not to be that disabled by CFS, but I can easily extrapolate from my worst moments to get some idea of it. I really admire your strength and positive attitude! I hope you'll be able to be in your own home again soon. Hang in there and keep laughing!


P.S. Thanks for the SNL clip - very funny!

Miss Waxie aka A Comic Life, Indeed said...

Ooof. I"m so so sorry you fell. I happened to fall this morning, too. Out of bed. Talk about a wake up call.

It's unfortunate that getting up from each fall is always such a metaphorical and literal "pick yourself up and dust yourself off, and start all over again", ...but we do what we must, right?

I hope this is the last fall for us both for a while. Feel better, hon!

- Miss Waxie