VIOLA - Some Mondays are better than others–take today for instance. I sat down on the edge of the bed, reached down to put my sock on, and pitched right off the bed with a silent scream. I knew what had happened, something I’d been warned about–my left hip, replaced years ago, had popped out.
When you live alone, you think about days like this. What if...I fell taking hay to the donkeys before work and couldn’t get up? What if...I finally tripped over one of the kitties and broke my leg? How would I get to the phone? (What are your what ifs, and what would you do?)
My left leg had buckled at the knee and was turned in toward my other leg. There was no moving it. The pain was incredible. Stuck on my back, I knew I had to get to a phone, but my landline receiver was on the desk in my office—too far to go, and it’d be impossible to get it off my desk from the floor.
Reminding myself to breathe, I held my left knee with both hands, the only way I could tolerate the pain, and started scooching along the carpet. My destination was the kitchen where my flip phone was recharging on top of an old canning cupboard. My kitties, Ivan and Salvador, eyes wide and curious, stayed near me without touching me. They knew I was hurt, and there was comfort in having them close.
Stopping to rest every few seconds I thought of my fitness class, due to begin soon. They would miss me and might call. This was another of my what ifscenarios: If I didn’t make it to class, would someone come looking? Or maybe I could lie there until Dane came over—but his workday was just beginning and he wouldn't be coming over until after 6 p.m. No, I had to save myself.
Lying on the floor, I reviewed my Wilderness Responder training. I had already secured my injury with my hands the best I could, I wasn’t in shock, and by focusing on my breathing I was keeping my respiration and pulse reasonable under the circumstances. I just needed the phone. (Where is your phone?)
I was grateful the dogs were already outside and in their playpen for the day. My daily after-work hike with them would be out of the question today.
Scooching again, I screamed in agony. I even considered trying to sleep, or whether I might pass out from pain. But no, this wasn’t life threatening—I just needed to get to the phone.
In the doorway to the kitchen, I rolled up a small rug and swung it upward toward the phone plug and cords. My aim was off. I dragged myself closer and was able to hit the cord but it didn’t come out of the socket. One-handed (the other one gripping my leg to make the pain manageable), I tried unsuccessfully to roll the rug more tightly.
Then I saw my broom on the other side of the cabinet. I slid and pushed myself toward it, without using my hands, until I could grab it. But it was useless—I couldn’t maneuver my arm and the stiff broom handle to get it under the cord.
I also worried that if I pulled on the cord, the plug might detach from the phone, and the phone might catch on the cabinet lip. If so, there'd be no way to retrieve it from the top of the cabinet, since I couldn’t stand or reach that high.
Resting, breathing, I again thought that maybe I’d just have to wait until Dane came over after work. But if he called first and I didn’t answer, he’d think I was in the woods with the pups and wouldn’t head over.
I took another good whack with the rug and the cord came out, dangling down the wall. I carefully pulled, hoping the phone would stay attached and fall where I could reach it.
It did—but there was no reception! I tried dialing 911 with no luck. I tried calling Dane too, but it was pointless. My cell has never worked inside my home. (Does yours?)
Dragging the cord and the phone with me, I headed for my mudroom, coaxed my body over the eight-inch drop, and managed to reach the door handle. Now my upper body was out of the house. Lying on my back I was amazed to find myself underneath a prayer flag with an OM symbol on it. I took it as a sign to breathe, stay present, and get help.
Again I dialed 911, but the phone icon just spun and there was no answer. I called Dane, who answered, but the static was so loud he couldn’t hear me. I hung up and tried again, and when he answered I said, “Call 911, hip out!” Back and forth went our calls, trying to hear each other, until finally he said, “Yes, I’ll call 911.”A little over an hour after I’d fallen, Dane was with me. What a relief! Now we just needed the ambulance. I could hear the siren, but for once I wasn’t worried about who was hurt or what had happened. I knew it was coming for me.