Friday, September 9, 2011

Femur, Patella, Knees and Shins

Not quite the same words as the song, "Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes" but the tune fits!  I'm going to recount my memories of a recent escapade of mine.  (I have pics, too.  I'll warn you before putting them in.)  So here goes: On Labor Day, just a few days ago, I was home alone and pondering what to do with my morning.  I had options: take a nap, put Velcro on my slipcover, take a bath, read or wash one last window from our recent exterior painting extravaganza of our house.  The choice I eventually made is, by now, widely publicized: I decided to wash the window.  For those of you who don't know our house, I'll explain a few architectural details.  Our two story home has the master bedroom on the second floor facing the backyard.  Along the entire width of the back wall of the house we have a covered patio  and beyond that a pool and deck.  From the very highest point of our  house (which is in the front) to the ground it's about 26 feet. From the patio cover in the back to the ground is approx. 8 feet.  The distance from the master bedroom the window to the roof of the pack patio is about 2 feet.  It's easy to open the window and step out on the patio roof to wash the window.  I've done it before several times.  The roof is fairly flat but slants gradually toward the gutter.

 I had already gathered my cleaning supplies and expected this to take a few minutes, then I'd go back into the bedroom to take a nap.  Now, should I have been washing the window in the first place?  No.  Should I have been on the roof even if it was "just" a patio roof?  No, for so very many reasons.  Would I have done this if my husband had been home?  Probably not.  Was this activity against all conventional wisdom especially considering my other health issues I have? Yes.  So, you might ask, why did I do it?  I could wimp out and say, "I don't know."  But I think it's deeper than that.  I had something in mind that was "on my list" and only focused on that.  I thought I could get away with it.  I hate having any kind of restrictions on my activities and rebel now and then.  The thing is, I can usually get a small job like that done, no problem.  If there are complications, BIG PROBLEM.  Then it migrates from my realm to others' realms and in that, this kind of stuff is selfish and totally disregards the safety measures that Dave and I have put in place for us to have a good quality of life.

Bottom line: when I screw up like this, the majority of the grief falls on my husband's shoulders.  Yes, we have an awesome family and many, many friends who are willing and able to help out, but when they all go home, it's Dave and me.  He has "bedside commode duty" at 2:00 am and again at 4:00 am and many more duties that only he can do.  I disregarded our safety policies and now he suddenly has, on top of all his other responsibilities and stresses of life, a brand new "fire" to put out. My consequence is a broken, hurting body.  Not what you would call a "win-win" situation.

This is the last self flagellation exercise I will do.  I am fully accepting responsibility for my actions here and am understanding all the ramifications of my poor decision.  I have told Dave I'm sorry for what happened and as we continue on I'll have a new respect for taking good care of myself.  Pain is no picnic and we had enough to do without navigating our way through this mine field.     We've been handling all sorts of crises over the past 38 years and won't stop now.  When all is said and done we will find the positive things that will come of this mess, we always do.  Our faith in God and others will be strengthened as we lean on Him and others so heavily during this time.

Now, on to the action!  After assembling all my supplies, I slid the window open and stepped out.  The window cleaning went well and yes, the window did get clean.  The problem was that when I closed the window behind me it locked into place and I lost my only way into the house.  I had a mini panic attack but then started problem solving.  The options were to: stay there til someone found me; jump down; find a way to  climb down the chimney or...AHA! There was a ladder on this roof, a remnant of the recent painting.  I could slide it down to the patio and climb down.  I thought I was saved!  I closed the ladder and started sliding it to the edge of the roof. Remember, it's flat with a little slant.  It was at this point that gravity took over.  The ladder ( see above, now safely on the ground out of MY way!) slipped out of my hands and I followed it.

I remember sliding off the roof and seeing the Adirondack chair right below me.  I didn't have time to figure out how best to land and the next thing I knew I heard the ladder splash into the pool right before I landed on the ground.    I was somehow sitting on the patio with my back towards the house.  I looked down and saw my right  thigh going one way, right knee going the other and right,  lower leg heading another.  There was a protrusion from under the waistband of my shorts which must have been the right hip joint.  I sensed something very, very wrong here and grabbed the lower part of my leg to try to straighten it to see if I could get out of this easily. It was dead weight and I realized there was blood all over.  It quickly hit me that I was in major trouble and I stared yelling, "Help me! Call 911! Somebody help!"  My voice seemed to crack and I was afraid that no one would hear me.  I don't know how long I yelled--it seemed like hours--but it wasn't very long.  Suddenly I heard voices and people running and yelling.  My across the street neighbors, Howard and Debbie came to me at about the same time my backyard neighbor called out that she was calling 911.  Howard tried calling but wasn't getting through.  The backyard neighbor yelled that she had gotten through and help was on the way.  I was so relieved.  The pain I was experiencing was incredible.  The very worst I ever had.  Now when someone asks me to describe my pain with ten being the worst pain I have ever experienced, I'll have a good reference point.

In the meantime Debbie had bent down to check on me to see what I needed.  Fortunately there were lots of towels and a rug around the pool so I had her put pressure on the gash on my lower shin (left side).  She talked to me calmly and soothingly and reminded me that help was on the way.  I kept saying, "My husband is going to kill me."

Debbie and Howard responded by repeating, "He won't kill you.  He's not going to kill you."

My mantra at that point was, "Oh God help me!  I'm so sorry! Dave is gonna kill me! Help me!  I'm so sorry! Oh God, help me!"  I tried some deep breathing and found comfort in singing my Grandma Smith's favorite hymn, How Great Thou Art. 

Howard went into the house to find things like my phone, purse and a large pillow so I could lean on a post  in the patio.  As the siren got louder, Howard went out front to direct them to me.  The guys arrived and started assessing me with me hollering again whenever they would even look at my right leg.  I was in excruciating pain.  Howard and Debbie offered to call my family but I was coherent enough so I called Dave. I tried to be calm so he wouldn't panic. I said, "I fell and need you to come home.  I'm so sorry.  I fell.  Be careful, don't drive too fast, Howard and Debbie are here and the ambulance is here and they'll go with me. I'm going to call Mike."

His steady and confident voice has always comforted me when I've been in panic mode.  He said, "O.K. I'm on my way.  I'll meet you at Fresno Community ER?"

"Yes. I'm sorry!"

I then called my son, Michael and said, "Mike, I need you.  I fell and am going to Fresno Community on the ambulance."

"We'll meet you there was his quick response.

I was medicated while still in the backyard and by the time we reached the hospital I had 10 mg of IV Morphine on board and was still in unbearable pain.  I was strapped to a backboard with a neck collar so I couldn't look around.  I was kind of disappointed because I'd never been inside an ambulance before. Having a cockeyed leg is one way to get you right in at the trauma center.  Remember that if you're ever there!  The team of MDs, RNs, Xray techs, PA's, NP's and many "persons with initials" got me poked and pulled and scooted, xrayed and assessed up one side and down the other.

One of my RN's happened to be a former high school classmate of my son and they had played soccer together.  I was glad to see him because I knew it would be so good for Mike to see a familiar face!.  The family came, Dave arrived and I was able to relax a bit.  I'll break up the rest of the saga because there's so much to tell and my energy is quite limited!

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