My husband (now the EX) had taken the kids out of town for a few days. The weather here was beautiful, clear blue skies, and hot! Heat can be more than slightly problematic for people with MS, enhancing symptoms. I had the house to myself and needed to begin packing and organizing for my imminent move to an apartment as this was when I was going through the divorce. To counter the heat, my solution was to put on my bathing suit, and every 30 minutes or so, I would go to the outdoor shower off the master bedroom, and dowse myself in a stream of cold water. I would then return inside, dripping wet and continue packing. Granted the water trails and puddles I left all over the carpets and hardwood floors were probably NOT good for their overall well being, I didn’t care much since it was no longer going to be the place that I lived. I got in a groove and not surprisingly, I over did it. By the end of the day, my legs were completely DONE. When this happens, walking becomes nearly impossible, but I was still able to get around a little bit. I climbed the stairs one last time, grabbed a towel from the bathroom and headed to the outdoor shower for my final spritz of the day, but this time, using it to actually clean off rather than just cool off. Shower done, I wrapped up in the fluffy clean towel, and headed back into the bedroom. After hanging up the towel in the bathroom, I headed back into the bedroom, still slightly damp, and naked. Given how hot it still was in the room and knowing no one else was home, I planned to take advantage and treat myself to a luxury that the presence of kids and lack of a door to the master bedroom had forced me to say goodbye to long ago; I was going to sleep in the nude. SHOCKING as it may be, there have to be SOME people out there, other than me, that can admit to how good it feels to climb into a bed, with clean sheets, with nothing on to get caught or jammed into places they’re not supposed to be. It is freedom while sleeping!
Just as I was about to climb into bed, I realized that I didn’t have my phone with me, which is ever present next to me when I sleep. When the kids aren’t there, I need to make sure that should anything happen, I will hear the phone. It’s also a “safety net” for me, if something should happen to me (one of those GREAT falls) my phone would be close by, and last but not least it is my alarm clock (how did we EVER live without them!) I wanted to get up bright and early and take advantage of my “morning legs” that work a little bit better, to continue packing. I checked the bathroom but it wasn’t there, and as I headed back through the bedroom to see if it was downstairs, my eye caught it, out on the deck, on the table next to the lounge chair. I must have brought it out there when I went for my last shower. As I stepped out to get it, I slipped and fell. I have fallen before on “bad leg days” and know what happens when I go down; I can’t get back up! It’s almost as if my body becomes paralyzed and no amount of struggling can get me back on my feet, or my knees for that matter.
I HAVE FALLEN AND I CAN’T GET UP!
The problem with this particular fall was two-fold; ONE- I was alone in the house (and would be for the rest of the week) and TWO -I was completely naked and soaking wet. The one thing that I DID have going for me is that since I had come out to get the phone, I had it in my hand when I went down. After trying for a good 15 minutes to get up, I began to get colder and colder; even summer nights can get chilly here in Seattle and being wet and naked didn’t help. Panic starting setting in. What was I going to do? There was nothing on the deck that I could wrap up in, and I obviously wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. I tried calling one of my closest friends that lives two doors up, but she didn’t answer. Nor did the five or six other people I tried to call. I was cold, scared and panicked and needed to talk to someone, so I called BC, a friend who lives down in Portland. Fortunately, he DID answer the phone. I told him what had happened, and that I couldn’t get a hold of anyone to come and help me. His response was simple “You need to call 911.” I remember saying to him “I can’t call 911, first off because I am completely butt-naked, and second, I don’t want to give my soon to-be ex-husband ammunition to say that the disease makes it so that I can’t care for my children.” His response was “Well kid, you’ve got two choices, stay out there all night and freeze your ass off or call 911.” And he hung up. So much for reaching out to a friend! It only took about ten more minutes of cold and panic, and I dialed 911.
Yes, I made a naked “I have fallen and can’t get up” 911 call.
I explained to the dispatcher that I had fallen and needed assistance. She took down my address and said she would contact the fire department. That was the easy part; next the not so easy part. I explained to her that I was outside on my deck, completely naked and mortified at having to make this phone call. She was extremely kind and understanding and put me on hold while she talked to the fire station. She came back on the line and said “Dear, unfortunately, they don’t have any female firefighters on duty tonight.” Of course they don’t! Why would that work in my favor after all of this?!? She asked if the house was locked, which it was, so I gave her the code to our garage door and told her about our dog, Buddy, who was quite protective of the house and random people coming in. I even told her where his treats were in the garage to help them try and get in. As I tried to keep any slight bit of dignity I had left intact, I explained her that I was really worried about the call, and she assured me that it would all be very private and that no one would ever need to know. Little did she suspect that I myself would be writing it in a blog today, for all the world to read! My final request was that they come quietly, no sirens or lights. We hung up and I waited.
Since we had a house fire a number of years ago, I had gotten to know some of the firefighters a bit. They also frequently would come to school events, and a few had even ridden my Segway at the kid’s school Runathon earlier that year. I have to admit, there is something about a man in uniform that has always been intriguing to me (come on, there have to be others out there that feel the same way!?) Although, having been married for 14 years, I honestly did not often even look at men in that context. I was too worried about babies and bottles, diapers, both theirs and me having to start wearing one, to even notice. But there was one in particular that I had noticed and thought was cute. As I lay there freezing my ass off, the only thing that kept going through my mind was, please don’t let him be on duty! Please just allow me this ONE bit of decorum.
Of course he was! Of course he was the first one out on the deck. Really, can it get any worse? He immediately grabbed a blanket off the bed and covered me up, but really, a bit too little, too late. He had seen me, all of me, lying out there looking more pathetic than I ever thought possible. Naked and paralyzed. Which meant I couldn’t’ even begin to try and arrange my 40 year old, had three babies, sagging body into some sort of an alluring or sexy pose. I was just a beached whale out there for all to see. As with everything else, I approached this with humor, immediately making jokes about my predicament. They assured me that they had seen worse. Pretty sure that WASN’T meant as a compliment. I was picked up and put in bed, where they checked my vitals and asked questions. They were concerned about leaving me alone in the house, but I assured them that I just needed to sleep and that in the morning, I would be better, not great because I would STILL have MS, but better. I had them go into the bathroom and get my medications, swallowed them down, and said goodnight to my midnight visitors.
When I woke up the next morning, I truly hoped that it had all been a bad dream, but knew that no matter how much I wished that to be true, that it had in fact happened. I had made a NAKED 911 CALL! Although they had kept their word, and came in silently they still WERE there, and I had been naked! I have mentioned that I don’t want pity, and that I don’t spend a lot of time feeling bad for myself or asking “why me.” This was a moment that I asked that exact question. That day was a bit different for me. I couldn’t get the image of that cute firefighter walking out onto my deck, looking up and thinking, this IS the bottom, it can’t get ANY more embarrassing than this.
I threw myself a huge pity party. I stayed in bed all day long; crying and stuffing myself with gummy bears. I spent the day feeling bad for myself and dreading the fact that I would inevitably run into him (and the rest of the crew) somewhere soon. Whether it be the kids school, the grocery store, or some other spot I would see them, and they would see me. I didn’t think I could EVER show my face in public again, for fear of that happening. Although it’s not the way that I would choose to live my life, I allowed myself THAT day; to feel sad, to ask for the first time “why me” and feel bad for ME. At that moment in time, I think it was exactly what I needed. Iit helped. The next day, I got up, started packing again, and EVEN made a trip to the grocery store….the fireman wasn’t there…that day.