Published July 9, 2019
THE VIEW FROM MY SEAT
Cats want to play after my fall; I have different priorities
By Ernie Williamson / The Bulletin
Falling. It’s every senior citizen’s or paraplegic’s worst nightmare.
My latest fall occurred after boasting in a column about how well I had adapted to wheelchair life and how independent I had become. Well, maybe not so much.
The statistics about falls are alarming. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention:
• 3 million older people are treated in emergency rooms each year for fall injuries• More than 800,000 of those are hospitalized.
Only days before falling, I had called the company that services my wheelchair and made an appointment to have the brakes checked. I was having trouble tightening them.
Because I couldn’t get an appointment for a week, I made a mental note to be extra careful transferring in and out of the wheelchair. I probably transfer 25 or 30 times each day.
I wasn’t careful enough that Saturday morning. As I was transferring from my bed, the wheelchair slid away. I fell to the floor, wedged between the bed and the chair.
Every once in a while, when I am feeling good, I get the feeling that I can walk. Falling is a not-so-gentle reminder that I can’t.
As is usually the case, I couldn’t have fallen at a worse time. My wife had a Saturday morning doctor’s appointment, and my phone was being charged in the other room. I felt like I was in one of those medical alert device commercials … without the device.
While on the floor, one of our cats came in carrying a toy. She wanted to play. Just what I needed. Not now.
The real challenge would be getting back in the chair. Even with training, it’s not easy going from the floor to a wheelchair without using your legs.
After failing in several attempts, I considered remaining on the floor until my wife got home. However, with my last ounce of energy, I pulled myself up into the safety of my chair. I was sweating and breathing as if I had run a marathon.
This makes four or five times I have fallen since becoming paraplegic seven years ago.
The worst fall happened on a hot summer day as I was running errands. I had forgotten to put the anti-tipping bars on my wheelchair , and when I went up the ramp into my van, I tipped over backwards.
I tumbled out of the chair and ended up on my back on hot pavement in a shopping center parking lot.
That was the fastest I ever climbed back into my chair. After that fall, I promised myself never again to remove the anti-tipping bars.
After the most recent fall, I promised myself to look into getting a medical alert device.
(Ernie Williamson welcomes reader input. Please contact Ernie at firstname.lastname@example.org)