It wasn’t a pretty site. I was lying there flat on the floor, legs crazily splayed, as I waited for 2 hours yelling for help. Two hours before I was attempting to shut my patio door when it was too stiff and I lost my balance, slumping forward and falling slow-motion out of my wheelchair.
It was incredibly scary as you can imagine, mainly because I was alone. It’s funny how everything goes in slow-motion when you fall. My PCA had just left for the day and no one was coming again for 10 hours. And the worst of it: My cell phone was still in my wheelchair side pocket, far from me, and there was no way I could get to it. Boy was I angry at myself. I even had an emergency call button that I should have been wearing, but wasn’t.
If I was a paraplegic, or even a more low-level quadriplegic, I would’ve been able to sit myself up from the floor and reach around my chair to get to my phone and call for help, but I couldn’t even sit myself up. And it’s not for lack of trying either. Since I can’t move my torso muscles, my entire body felt like a pile of bricks.
There I laid, flat on my back, trying desperately to figure out a way to sit myself up by positioning my hand on various spots on the floor and on the wheelchair next to me, all while yelling for help every 30 seconds. But it wasn’t working. My building has thick concrete walls and it was 12:30pm on a weekday. No one was home. My ultimate fear was that no one would hear me for hours.
But by the grace of a higher power, a miracle happened. My middle-aged next door neighbors were home for the day. Apparently, they don’t work very often and were taking a pool day, which was why they heard me yelling for help. Finally after 2 hours of yelling, there was suddenly a knock on my door asking if everything was ok.
I yelled, “No it’s not. Please PLEASE come in. I fell on the floor.” Thankfully my door was still open (I hadn’t gotten around to locking it yet), and they let themselves in to rescue me. Never before in my life was I happier to have strangers see me in an embarrassing situation. The wood floor that I had been lying on was a living hell. My boney tailbone was slowly getting injured the longer I laid there.
This crazy situation happened about a month ago. After they came in, they started apologizing and I said, “Why are you saying that? You’re rescuing me. I should be the one who’s doing the thanking.” And that is when they told me they had heard me yelling earlier, but hesitated because I was yelling “Can anyone hear me?” “We thought you were maybe on the phone,” they said, “otherwise we would’ve come earlier.”
But I told them it was silly to feel that way. I was ecstatic they were rescuing me in the first place. Fortunately, I was wearing a pair of shorts underneath my dress so they couldn’t see anything unsavory, and they did a two-person lift, picking me up from the floor and putting back in my wheelchair. It felt so good to be back in that thing.
It’s funny how you look at your wheelchair as an object that holds you back, but when you fall out of it your mindset completely changes. You finally realize what a miracle tool it is, helping us be independent when we could never be otherwise. I love my wheelchair even though she failed me that day.
I now too always make sure to keep my emergency call button necklace on when I’m alone, and I bought a very cool cotton belt called FitBelt to keep my phone in it at all times so if I do fall, my phone will at least be on me.
My only wish: My button would work outside of my home, but I have yet to upgrade to that. And also wearing my seatbelt now too. You can just never be too safe. I refuse to ever get myself into such a terrible situation again.
Have you fell out of your wheelchair before? How did it go?