Sunday, January 25, 2009

It's Official: I Am A Clutz!

I have never claimed to be the most coordinated of people. I do have a history of altercations with flights of stairs. So, I am very careful on stairs... really careful. But this fine fall day--no pun intended--was a whole new venue for me. It all began on September 13, 2008...

It was a Saturday morning. Many people do housework on Saturday mornings. People all over the world do housework on Saturday mornings. Most of them successfully complete their tasks. Some don't. On that particular Saturday morning I definitely was a "don't!"

My roommate, Michelle, was hosting a jewelry party later that day. I was picking up the house, doing laundry, and generally trying to get everything looking presentable for her party that day. The tablecloth for the dining room table was drying in the dryer. The kitchen was cleaned up accept for a couple of things in the sink which I planned on adding to the dishwasher as soon as I was done mopping the kitchen floor. I could not find the filter for my super-duper steam mop, so instead I had hauled out the vinegar and a sponge mop to do the job.

I was wearing a cute cotton shift which I had picked up in Key west and some very cute (if I may say so) color coordinated dragonfly sandals... just the thing to work in on such a hot morning in Florida in September. I had not taken a shower as yet, but planned to do so as soon as I was done mopping the floor... and I was just about done. I just had to mop the small strip of tile in front of the sideboard and I would be done.

But I made the mistake of peeking behind the sideboard to find some dirt that definitely needed to be tackled. I put the mop into my left hand and leaned forward to grab the edge of the sideboard to pull it out from the wall so that I could get to the things that had dropped behind the sideboard and then mop up the floor there. As I leaned forward I stepped back on one foot to get better leverage. That was my mistake. When I stepped back, my foot landed on tile that was still very wet and slippery. The next thing I knew I was falling forward. My right arm caught the corner of the sideboard on my way down and I landed on top of the mop. I felt the odd sensation of my teeth sinking into my tongue as my chin hit the floor and the air being knock out of my lungs. I was then knocked out. When I "came to" I could not move. My mouth was full of blood and I was having a difficult time comprehending what had just happened.

After a few minutes I managed after several attempts and with a bit of difficulty to roll over onto my back. I was still in a bit of a daze, but I realized that since I was home alone I needed to get help quickly. My cell phone, which I try to keep close to where I am, was on the other side of the kitchen table from where I was laying on the floor. At least I knew where it was! But I was still wedged a bit between the table and chairs and the sideboard. I tried scooting on my back several times until I could get in a better position to get up. And thenI lay there for about five minutes thinking about how I could get up and who I could call.

Normally almost everyone is home around my neighborhood on a Saturday morning... but not on this particular Saturday. I had seen my neighbors on one side of me leave in their truck a little earlier, so I knew they were not home. My two closest friends are also neighbors, so I would try to call them. I actually don't totally remember how I finally got up off the floor. I used a chair to help, but I was very dizzy. When I got to my phone I called my neighbor Rosie who is usually home on Saturday mornings cleaning her own home. Besides, I had both her home number and cell number stored in my phone, so I was sure that I could get her. I was wrong. She was out and about and didn't hear her cell phone. So I called my other neighbor and friend, Linda. I only had her cell number stored in my cell phone which she did not answer because she was sunning at the beach with a friend. I wondered where my room mate Michelle was because I knew that she needed to be getting ready for her party. I don't remember if I tried to call her boyfriend Brandon, but I figured that they were probably out together somewhere. Amy across the street was probably home, but I had seen her husband who is a police officer leave for work earlier so she had her two little kids with her if she was home, and taking me to the emergency room just was not practical. My daughter Lainey who lives in St. Pete and my daughter Allison who lived in Tampa were a bit too far away to be able to get to me quickly and were usually terrible about answering their phones.

I very briefly considered calling 911, but I really didn't want to go to the ER without someone I knew. My tongue was getting so swollen and my jaw hurt so much that I didn't know if I even wanted to try to talk. I was dizzy and had to keep getting the excess blood out of my mouth. Yuck. I decided to call Himself on the chance that he was in town for the weekend since he lived fairly close. If I was not successful in reaching him, I would call 911. He did answer his cell phone. At this point, I was getting a bit hysterical as my tongue was really feeling strange, and I felt like I was going to pass out again. I could barely talk, but I managed to get out that I needed to go to the ER. Himself, not knowing what was going on asked if I needed to call 911. I probably should have said yes, I probably should have done a lot of things differently... like leaving the stupid sideboard where it was! But I said "No. I just need to go to the emergency room!" It probably sounded more like "emedjency woom" but he got the message.

So, he was on his way. And then, knowing that help was on the way and my head a bit clearer, my typical vanity kicked in... I had not taken a shower yet that morning and was determined to at least rinse off in the shower. A normal and clear-thinking person would have realized that it was probably not the smartest thing to do. I successfully got into the shower, rinsed off, got the blood off of my face and hands, made an attempt at getting dried off with a towel and stuck my same clothes back on as I didn't feel like bothering finding something else (I guess I still has some sense). I put on some deodorant, and went and sat down in the kitchen to wait for my ride.

Linda called after she saw that I had called her. That's when she told me that she was at the beach. I didn't tell her much other than that I had fallen and Himself was on his way to take me to the ER. Michelle got home just before Himself arrived and was clearly upset. My practical self told her that the tablecloth for her party was in the dryer and apologized for not having everything ready. She was going to cancel the party, but I thought that it was silly to do that at that point... people were planning on being there.

I live just a few minutes from a very large hospital so it did not take long to get there and checked in at the ER. However, even though my tongue was bleeding I had to wait for three hours before I could get seen by someone. They had only one doctor there that could take care of minor surgery because it was a Saturday, and he was already in the midst of some emergency surgery. Linda came to the ER and stayed with me as well as Rosie, who was very upset that she had missed my call. Linda had called her after calling me. The attendants finally got me in a room and started the examination. As it turned out, the head of the ER ended up stitching up my tongue which I had almost bitten off, and after cat scans, x-rays, and numerous other procedures they thought that they would watch me for a bit and then send me home. Since I had been knocked out and probably had a concussion, they would not give me anything for pain until the results of the cat scan and x-rays were back... they wanted me to stay awake and alert. Like I could fall asleep with my head, tongue, arm, knees, and back throbbing!

So, I lay in the ER listening to the nurses comment on my cute dress and how my sandals matched and other such small talk while we waited for results. I was terribly thirsty, but could not swallow water or any liquid with my swollen tongue. As is the routine these days, they had immediately put an IV in when they checked me in... even before the x-rays and cat scan. I was still very thirsty, and since I could not swallow anything due to my tongue, they gave me Popsicles to hold over my tongue to let it drip down my throat. Fun. When the results came back, they showed that I had successfully managed not cause a brain bleed, break any bones, or do anything more than nearly sever my tongue, and badly bruise my right arm, knee caps, chin and jaw... and whatever I had done to my back.

Then my tongue started to swell even more. They became concerned that it might swell enough to cut off my air supply and decided to admit me to a room in the hospital. They forgot to give me my first dose of pain medication before they transported me to my room, and I did not get any until almost midnight. Normally I am a very easy patient, but I have to admit I was getting a bit testy about not getting anything for pain. I did not shut up about it until they finally figured out that I was right... and luckily for me Himself had been around enough earlier to verify that I had not received anything other than local when they were stitching up my tongue.

I stayed overnight and tried not to attempt talking so as not to tear the stitches in my tongue. I was more successful with the Popsicles the next morning when the swelling had gone down, and was happy to doze, watch TV, and try to relax. Then I started having visitors who insisted on asking me question after question even though I indicated that I had difficulty talking and did not want to tear the stitches. I guess they were amused at my altered communication skills and pronunciation of words, because they kept it up along with the giggles.

I did actually end up tearing some of the stitches, and even though I was assured that tongues heal amazingly well, I still have a slight opening in my tongue and scar tissue that drives me crazy. The feeling has come back in the tip of my tongue, but I still have numbness in the center of my tongue. It has been over 4 1/2 months.

So that was my first fall.

Thanksgiving rolled around, and I had hosted the turkey dinner. Michelle's dog, Mia was with us while Michelle and Brandon spent Thanksgiving with his family in Georgia. Daughter Allison had her two dogs, Zoey and Marley with her as well as a friend from college, son Matthew was there, Daughter "L" and TJ, my mom, Aunt Betty Ann and me. Betty Ann had brought "Ted Peter's Famous Smoked Fish Spread" for snacking at my request... it is my favorite! If you are ever in St. Petersburg, Florida you have to find the place and sample some. You will not find any better anywhere... I have tried. I grew up in St. Pete visiting that place often, especially in the summer after the beach or pool. So Betty Ann treats us with some each holiday.

I was standing in the kitchen on the edge of the living room enjoying some yummy fish spread on a cracker when Zoey and Marley came bounding through the kitchen. I stepped back to keep from being knocked over and stepped on Mia who was lying on the floor right behind me. I hadn't realized she was behind me and when she yelped I was startled, tried to keep from stepping on her again, lost my balance and ended up falling backwards onto a very hard hardwood floor on my back and hitting my head in the process. I did manage to keep hold of my cracker and fish spread, though.

No one would let me get up for a few minutes (as if I could have), but they did offer to hold my cracker and fish spread until I could get up. My head hurt and my back hurt but the fish spread sure was good!

My third fall was the result of a poorly made purchase at the local Home Depot. A week or so after Thanksgiving I had just purchased a new front door mat as the old one was worn out. I had spent more than a few minutes looking for one and was very frustrated with the selection. Since I didn't see anything like I wanted and I wanted to pay cash, I opted for a cheaper and plain mat. Do you see where this is going?

The very first time I went out my front door after putting the mat in it's new place was the last time that mat was there. I was on my way out the door to visit my neighbor Rosie and as soon as I stepped onto the mat it went flying and so did I! I landed on my posterior on the threshold... to be more exact... my tailbone hit the threshold and my right elbow hit the tile. If you have ever had a tailbone injury you know how painful it can be! It only took a week before I could manage to sit again.

I am almost done with my physical therapy appointments, and tomorrow I see the hand specialist to check back on my right wrist which is still in a brace due to some torn cartilage and some soft tissue damage. I just don't understand why my doctor will not let me go to a gym until I finish the physical therapy. Silly me. She did say something about getting my back in shape with therapy and doing some therapy to help my balance. At first she was concerned about why I was falling--like maybe I had scrambled my brains with the first fall?!?!-- but I assured her that the three falls were unavoidable accidents and there just happened to be three of them. I think that is when the word "clutz" was mentioned and the fact that I had been lucky that I didn't break any bones.