By Sue Moore
In the last week of July I finished writing a story about “Fear of Falling” for the August edition of the South County News, thinking it certainly doesn’t apply to me, being 79, in good health and still doing daily exercise routines.
Then, on a sleepy Sunday afternoon on August 6, it all came crashing down. I’m outside surveying my flower gardens, not watching out for rock steps on the hillside when I trip and go face down on the stone steps, hitting my forehead with a crash. I’m a wuss, I see blood streaming out of somewhere and run for a towel to stop the bleeding. OK, just lie down and it will go away, I think. Some ice would be nice. I go for the fridge and bleed all over it. But I achieve my objective.
A half hour goes by, I’m bored, I listen to the radio as I’m trying to decide what to do. Calling for the ambulance is not an option. I’m a wuss. Another half hour and I think the bleeding from my forehead has stopped. I go to the bathroom sink for a fresh washcloth and suddenly blood is spurting all over the mirror, the walls, the sink and I’m mopping it up with one towel after another.
I go back, lie down, and can’t get it stopped. I fear the ER, the ambulance service, the attention. These are people I know because I’ve been writing stories about the ambulance service for the past three months. I grab the phone, no, it will stop, no it won’t, I will call 911.
A calm voice at the sheriff’s department asks me to stay on the line while she contacts the Vicksburg EMS service. I hear Jesse answer while instructing the car to leave the station. No lights, no sirens, I want to say. That’s not an option.
In walks Amber in full triage mode. I know her well and now am grateful for her calm voice as there is so much blood in my eyes, I can’t see who has come to assist. I hear Tracy McMillan too. Who could miss his voice, urging me to go to the ER. I decline. Not an option they tell me. Well, I just wanted them to stop the bleeding and I’ll be ok. They look at the bathroom and decide it won’t be ok until I get treatment. They carefully bundle me on a stretcher (they are so kind and attentive, my fears have somewhat subsided).
I’ve never had to be the patient in an ambulance, so it was a new experience. Christian the paramedic hooks me up to all the vitals. I say no, not necessary. She insists. Which ER do you want to be taken to? Eh, I don’t know. Then I remember that Bronson advertises in the newspaper, so off we go up Sprinkle Road because of the construction. They want to start IVs and I say no, I’m still a wuss.
They deliver me to the ER door with care and concern, I’m whisked into a private cubicle with nurses, PA’s and others looking after me. The bleeding has subsided and I want out, right then and there. Too bad, I’m admitted. Kind doctors check in and out, there are others in greater need for sure. The decision is made. I’ll need some stiches. Now I really want out. I wait for what seems an eternity but it’s only about a half hour when the doc comes back with a long needle and some thread. He is from North Dakota State’s Medical School, serving his residency in the WMU Medical School program. He has a calming, voice and good bedside manner. Seven stitches later, I’m demanding to have them let me go.
I didn’t remember to bring my purse with me, so no phone, no glasses, no ability to remember local phone numbers because they are all locked up in my phone at home. I want out. I call back to SCEMS. Can you give me phone number for Wes Schmitt, the president of the ambulance service and my friend?
Yes. Wes had another commitment so he provides me with Steve Ellis’ phone number who serves on the board of this newspaper with Wes. Fortunately, the phone the ER has let me use has large digits on it or I never would have gotten a ride home as my family is all in the backwoods of Canada.
Steve is there and arrives just 30 minutes later to spring me. But alas, they need a CAT scan for concussion possibilities. We wait for the results. Negative. I’m on my way. It’s not a pretty sight, my forehead, that is. I’m thinking of all the possible stories to be told to explain why we should all have a healthy fear of falling. I’ve learned my lesson. Take precautions for exactly that and possibly enroll in the balance class offered by South County Community Services and the Area Agency on Aging.