Help me I think I’m falling…
July 31, 2022 | My Jottings
A while back I went down to the basement to empty the water from the dehumidifier. For those of you without basements, it’s something we do in the Midwest in the summertime. If we don’t use dehumidifiers, our cool basements become dank and eventually moldy, and no one wants that. I slid the basin out from the front of the unit and carried it by its handle to the half of our basement that isn’t finished. It’s the side where the furnace is, where we have shelving for storage, and a room Sara uses for a workshop to do her floristry. In that room is a work sink, and I tilted the basin and poured the day’s worth of moisture down the drain. It really makes a difference we can feel. If we go a day without running the dehumidifier, the basement feels like a cave; if we turn it on and set it to 50%, it’s comfortable like the rest of the house.
As I turned to go back to the finished part of the basement, I stepped on a padded floor mat Sara uses when she’s standing long hours arranging flowers for weddings and events. The floor in the workshop is painted cement. We learned later that the floor had a tiny bit of moisture between it and the mat, which caused the mat to shoot out perpendicularly from my body as I stepped on it, as if it had been violently yanked. I crashed to the cement floor on my knees, not being able to break my fall since I was carrying the empty dehumidifier basin. My forehead hit the floor too.
I labored and gave birth to three children as a young woman, never taking so much as an aspirin for pain relief, as those were the days of unmedicated Lamaze labors and deliveries. I consequently had this idea that I had a fairly high pain tolerance (with the weird exception of my fingers and toes, which are total babies when hurt even the tiniest bit), especially since I kept fairly quiet during the births of my children. Well. That notion has been proven a big lie, because when I hit the basement floor I screamed. And screamed. And cried and sobbed for fifteen minutes at least. It felt like a sword had been thrust through my knees, especially the left one. My good one.
I had a knee replacement surgery years ago on my right knee, which took away the arthritic pain as it’s supposed to, but I was left with quadriceps weakness that makes going up and down stairs an ordeal. I’ve always been grateful for my left good knee. Now my left good knee was growing in size and I literally couldn’t move it one inch without yelling.
Lloyd was here that day and he came running when he heard me screaming. He took one look at my twisted leg and said, “Ohhh, this doesn’t look good, I’m going to call an ambulance.” I could not get up. I wanted to settle down before the last resort ambulance was summoned, though. I thought if I waited long enough until I could bear the pain, I could scoot on my side to the part of the basement where the stairs go up to the main floor, and perhaps sit up. I scooted inch by inch, wailing, for fifteen minutes, and I made it near the stairs, but by that time my knee was grotesque, and I couldn’t have done it if my life depended on it. Lloyd called my daughter Carolyn and her husband Jeremy (who is an ER nurse) and they rushed over. Jeremy looked at my leg and said this was certainly going to require an x-ray, and transport needed to be called. Carolyn called Sharon and she rushed over; I asked them to delay calling Sara because she was at work and I knew there was nothing she could do except worry.
Finally 911 was called and while I laid on my back trying not to move my leg one centimeter, I requested they not use sirens. I could just picture the neighborhood being on alert and wondering what was happening and who was dying. In a couple of minutes the sirens came screaming anyway, ambulance and fire engine, and soon I was surrounded by nice uniformed people who saw they couldn’t move me without starting an IV for pain medication.
First I was given a tube of something sprayed up my nose to ease the pain. I couldn’t feel any relief. Then the woman EMT tried to start an IV in my arm, to no avail. I usually have such good fire hose veins, but maybe adrenaline clamped them off or something. She could not get a needle in. Then she tried on the back of my hand, and I have never seen anyone sweep back and forth under the skin so widely as she did, hoping for that pop of success with the searching needle. I was grinding my teeth and squeezing my eyes shut so tightly as she tried and tried again. Finally after trying in my wrist, the needle went in, and two strong meds with it. In a couple of minutes I felt enough relief for them to move me (without the crane I kept saying they’d need) on to the body sling, to the stretcher, to the back of the ambulance. I was transported to St. Luke’s Hospital in Duluth and soon my leg was x-rayed. It was a portable machine and the technicians had to gennnnttttly lift my knee in the bed while trying to slide the x-ray tray under me, while I tried not to arch my back and make a spectacle of myself. I’d already done that in the basement, and I thought once a day was a good quota to not exceed.
The x-rays showed considerable arthritis, and nothing much more conclusive, so the ER doc ordered a CT scan. This was what finally revealed the fracture. It’s official name is Fracture of the Tibial Plateau. My break was lateral (on the outside) and deep into the back of the knee, and an orthopedic surgeon was consulted by phone. He said he didn’t think I’d need surgery (thank you Lord) but I would have to be super careful going home (with a walker like a proper old lady) and see a specialist as soon as possible. How grateful I was to have my three daughters and Lloyd with me during the hours in the ER.
We made it home, and getting up the basement stairs to the main floor was a feat. During the days of waiting for my next appointment I stayed mostly in bed, iced and elevated a lot, and depended on so many kind people to help me. Meals were delivered, my daughters helped, Lloyd stayed for over a week and waited on me hand and foot. (You might remember that even though we are fairly newly married, he and I have separate homes in different areas, and we aren’t usually together for that long. His neighbor took care of his cat for him and checked on his cabin in the woods and brought in his mail.)
After a week I finally saw the surgeon, who said my case is a “gray case” and if I were younger they would do surgery. But since I’m 64 and probably have a knee replacement on that knee coming in a few years, he didn’t think it was the thing to do for me. His instructions were strict — non weight bearing for six weeks. I asked him how I could be 100% non weight bearing even when just using the walker to get to the bathroom and he conceded it would be nearly impossible because of my other knee (which is also hurt but not as badly), so he said, “Five percent weight bearing.” So I am doing the best I can.
I am in bed most of the time, with brief little forays down the hall to the living room and kitchen, using my walker and putting as little weight on my left leg as possible. Lloyd had to go home eventually and my children do have their own children and lives, so I get my own water, make simple meals for our foster gal, order meals to be delivered. I decided this would be a season of finding treasures in the dark, and of reading. It seemed appropriate to reread a Christian classic that has been newly updated: Joni: An Unforgettable Story. I finished it late last night and can hardly even convey how it spoke to my heart again after all these years. Joni Eareckson Tada is a modern-day saint, and if I could face my life with one iota of the courage and cheer she does, I would consider it real growth.
So as you can imagine, I’ve been reading. Thinking. Writing in my journal. Praying. Doing our annual summer Bible study that is thankfully by Zoom and therefore doable for me. We are studying Kelly Minter’s Encountering God and it has been so rich, and such a blessing. I highly recommend it.
Here’s a little bit of my view:
I have two baskets of clean laundry that need folding, and I’ll get to it when I can. I have things I’d like to return at the post office, but they might stay in the back of my car for a long time. There are vegetables to be washed and cut up, paperwork calling my name, cleaning, organizing and who knows what else… but they will all have to wait.
I go back to the surgeon in three weeks to have an x-ray to determine if my fracture is healing. Oh, how I pray it is. If I think about not being able to take a good, strong, stable step anymore, my frame of mind suffers.
These are the thoughts that don’t help: what if I can’t take walks in the cemetery with Lloyd anymore? What if I need a cane for the rest of my life? What would happen if I fell again, this time in public? How small is my life going to become? Will I ever see Ireland?
These are the thoughts that do help: You saw this happen before the foundations of the world, Lord. You are here with me, Jesus, help me hear your voice. What beautiful family and friends you’ve blessed me with, God! What a miracle pain meds are. Nothing can separate me from the love of God. My future is in His hands. I can trust Him.
And I have all this extra time, completely uninterrupted, to pray. I pray for my daughters, their husbands, my grandchildren, their friends, my friends and their families, my Bible study ladies, people I don’t know across the globe who need wheelchairs, my pastor and his family, Joni Eareckson Tada and her husband Ken, my neighbors, and whoever comes to mind. I will pray for you.
I guess that is enough about my fall for one blog post. Thank you for stopping in, and if I can pray specifically for you, let me know in the comments. I’ll keep it confidential if you ask.
God bless each one of you…