Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Shame on You, Part 1

I have a problem. Okay, I have many problems-- but I have one particular problem that keeps my psychologist, my doctors and Madame J in business:

I hate to admit that I am wrong.

On the outside, I apologize: "Oh, I'm sorry, I know you're right" is a common phrase. I try to avoid eye-rolling and smirking, usually with a modicum of success.

On the inside? "Yeah, whatever, just move on."

When I add the inability to admit I might (hah! notice the "might?") be wrong with physical challenges and my propensity to do stupid things? You have every single reason why I end up in the emergency room.

Let's take the latest visit to the ER as an example of my conduct. It was a Sunday. Madame J does not work on Sundays and I depend on friends and neighbors to drop by and help. I get the basics done-- shower, eat, dressed-- but usually the day is slow, slow, slow. I can only write for about 2-3 hours before my voice gives out and my hands no longer work. On this particular Sunday, I was worried that the garden was droopy. I knew the garden would have survived another day without water-- except the temperature had been over 100 degrees for 2 waterless days, and my beautiful veggies were starting to wilt. I could have called a neighbor to come over and help me water the garden. I didn't care, though. I thought, "Why not give it a try? No one will know."
(yep, I thought "no one will know" because I knew I was doing something wrong)

Here's the challenge: In order to water the garden, I have to climb the deck, swish my body around the edge, reach over to the spigot and turn it on. If my hands, arms and legs worked well, this would not be an issue. For me, even on a good day? It's an issue. I know this-- but, I was bored, the garden looked sad, and I figured, "Why not? I'll make this an occupational therapy project! " (btw, all my new adventures begin as "occupational therapy projects," although I suspect my OT would flip out, if she knew...)

So, I brought my wheelchair to the edge of the deck-- put a mat on top of the wood to protect my knees-- and started to crawl. When I reached the spigot, I leaned over to try and turn it on. And then (you guessed it):

I fell.

Do you sense a common theme? I did my usual swear-out-loud rampage and crawled back to the wheelchair. I made it to the cottage and tried to transfer into bed. The problem? My legs had stopped working altogether and (you guessed it):

I fell. Again.

I had also peed on myself. Not good. At this point, I knew I had a problem. Sugar, my service dog, kept trying to hit the "emergency button" connected to the phone. I knew I should have let her call 911 and get my fabulous booty to ER. Did I do the logical, sane step? Nope. Instead, I told Sugar to "leave it," crawled to the bathroom, cleaned myself, found new clothes, took some pain meds, and did a paraplegic crawl into bed.

By Monday, I was doubling my pain meds, unable to transfer from the bed to the wheelchair, and peeing in diapers. Still, not good. Madame J walked into my cottage and we had a normal exchange (for us):

Madame J: Are you okay?
Me: Yeah.
Madame J: What did you do?
Me: Nothing.
Madame J glares at me until I crack under pressure.
Me: Okay, I had a small fall yesterday and hurt my back.
Madame J: What did you do?
Me: (proud) I figured out how to water the garden!
Madame J glares at me. Again. I crack.
Me: It was safe. I used my mats.
Madame J: (sighs) You need to go to the hospital.
Me: No.
Madame J: Why not?
Me: They won't do anything. They'll just tell me to stay in bed, take pain meds, and wait 3 days for the muscle spasms to calm down. I can't ice because of the autonomic dysreflexia, which totally sucks. I'm okay, as long as I don't move.
Madame J: (cleaning the weekend mess) You need to go to the hospital. You can't move.
Me: I can move. I just can't move my legs and transfer. It's temporary. I probably pulled a muscle when I fell. I can still crawl and wear a diaper, as long as I take more pain meds for a couple of days. Really. I'm okay. Really.
At this point, I suspect Madame J debated calling an ambulance for a 5150, and not for the back injury. Instead, we talked over the routine for the week. I sent an email to my doctor, and he repeated exactly what I had said to Madame J-- wait 3 days, if not better, go to minor injury clinic. By the end of the day, Madame J had refused to leave until I had called my Mom and a couple of friends, to ask them to check on me during the night. Apparently, my personal care attendant really hates walking in on a dead patient. Go figure.

The critical piece I did not mention to anyone? My loss of bladder control. It was easy to hide since I use catheters, diapers and commodes because of a neurogenic bladder. I knew that complete loss of bladder function was unusual-- but, I decided to take a wait-and-see approach since my abdominal muscle were undergoing intense spasms. What's the worse that could happen?

Next...minor injury, emergency rooms, and a hot doctor.


  1. a hot doctor? how come nobody else sees the upside of your occupational therapy projects?

  2. If you are doing the paraplegic crawl like that guy you must have abs of steel. So I take it you did successfully water the garden? That'll show 'em.

    Mango Momma