It was evening and I had been working most of the day and then hiking in the woods earlier that evening. I got home around 7:00 pm, started a fire in the fireplace, and leaned back in my easy chair to relax for a few minutes.
The first leg cramp was painful. The top of my thigh felt like it had a vice grip pinching that large muscle to its maximum power. This was not good but I have had leg cramps before. I was probably dehydrated from a long day on my feet. The second leg cramp happened shortly after the first and left me balled over.
Now what? Two excruciating charley horses in my legs that are bringing tears to my eyes and fear to my mind. I live alone in the middle of the woods. Try to relax I tell myself. It’ll be over in a bit. But the pain got worse. And I thought if only I could make it to my bedroom and lie down then it might be better.
Hobbling – grimacing – I made it to the bedroom. Nothing to grab onto and I’m getting light-headed. I think I can make it to the bed but I have a couple more steps to make it. Head is getting lighter, breathing is harder, the room is twirling and then darkness.
I awoke on the floor. I wasn’t sure how long I had been there but I actually felt better. Leg cramps gone. Head was clear. But it felt a little wet. Maybe I was sweating. I know I was confused. I touched my forehead and felt the blood. Not a lot but enough to make me realize that my fall was met with some resistance.
Ahh. I look up and see the basketball size hole in the drywall. Hmmm. That’s not good. Well I’m alive, I think. I tell myself to stand and get in bed. But as I try to lower myself to the bed, I can’t move my neck or my back. Well, now I’m in trouble, I know it. I sit on the bed and decide that I need help. At least I’m able to move to my phone and dial 911.
On a stretcher. In the ambulance. In the hospital emergency room – not enough space that night in a regular room. Three days in the hospital going through tests and more tests – brain scans, X-Rays, MRIs.
Broken neck, stretched and inflamed ligaments in my spine, concussion, whiplash, stitches in my forehead and a neck brace as my collar for the next few weeks. No brain damage they tell me.
This was not my first fall but it was my worst. I still have neck pain and continue to look for relief.
Why do I have a passion for fall prevention? My fall recurs 30,000 times each week to others. Some are less severe. Some are more severe, even fatal. Not every fall is preventable. But 30,000 falls each week is too many.
My desire is that Safety In Place will help you learn and adopt some of our basic approaches to reducing your risk of falling in your home. I can tell you, it is better to be safe than sorry. Let’s see if we can keep you on your feet better than I have kept on mine.
Best, Bruce Montgomery, Ph.D., EMHS, CAPS