I began giggling, realizing that when I could share this adventure with my ultra-modest Australian mother, her first response would sound something like, “Oh, Honey, you must have been so relieved to get your clothes on before anyone found you.” But, first, I had to get to the end of this saga to ever be able to tell her the story.
I squirmed and squiggled my carpet-bound body into position. Reaching up, I took hold of the long, twisted phone cord. I’d asked for the extra-long coiled cord, so that I could speak and work at the kitchen sink. If I had only the standard length, it would’ve been far out of my reach.
Giving it a tug, I felt relief at the resistance. Maybe the cord would allow me to do a kind of one-handed repelling up the wall.
I managed to get my knees moved under my body enough to provide a certain amount of leverage. I pulled with all my might. I heard a click, but the cord held.
Bouncing on my knees, I released the cord; quickly grabbing on a bit higher up. Unfortunately, I’d under-estimated the strength that had returned to my legs, slamming my right side into the wall. Down I fell, no doubt bruising my upper arm. “Okay, you’re getting your strength back,” I said to my knees. “Let’s see how the rest of the body is doing here.”
I leaned my back against the wall, scooting my rear back until I hit the baseboard. Carefully, I stretched out first one arm and then the other. Both trembled; but at least, the right arm now moved like the left one. Gripping my jeans felt the same in the fingers of both hands, so maybe the coordination had begun to return, too.
The growing relief ended when my review had reached my neck. Tipping my head produced excruciating pain shooting into my head and down my spine. “Yeow! Okay, easy does it,” I warned myself. “But, body, you’ve still got to get to the hospital.”
I sat a moment to re-group and consider the best way to stand. Remembering how we’d walked up the wall as kids, I urged my knees back and pushed into the wall. Inch-by-inch, my body slid up the kitchen wall. At last, I stood, but discovered I’d angled away from the telephone.
I crab-walked to the right, grabbing on to the cord as soon as it touched my fingertips. My trembling legs began to buckle under me, but yanking the cord kept my staggering body upright, kind of.
I squeezed my aching fingers around the cord, taking slow, deep breaths. As soon as I felt my legs pushing up again, I jerked the receiver off the cradle. I had to rotate my body slightly to get a finger into the dial, stuffing the receiver into my shirt. No way could I lean my head to trap the phone between my ear and shoulder. I didn’t want to let go of the cord either.
At last, the sound I’d longed to hear, “Hospital. How may I help you?”
I wanted to cry. Instead, I said, “Would you, please, call Maxine to the phone?”
As I waited for the Director of Nursing to pick up the phone, I tried to figure out what it was I wanted. I lived only about two blocks from the hospital. The staff of the ambulance service all worked as volunteers. Since it was Saturday, they might not even be in town. It could take more time to round up a crew to go to the ambulance garage than it’d take for me to get myself to the hospital. Could I do that?
“This is Maxine?”
“Oh, hi Maxine. Uh, well, I think I need to see a doctor. Is Greg around?”
“No, he’s out of town this weekend. What’s wrong? Are you sick?”
“I don’t really know. Uh, I was showering and, uh, my arm just dropped. It’s kind of a long story, but I think I might need to have Doc look at me.”
“Okay. I can call Doc; I’m sure he’s in town. Should I phone you back, or do you just want to come on in?”
Thinking about how hard it had been to get this one call made, and realizing she’d probably hang up by the time I could get myself back up to answer the ringing, I said, “No, I’ll just come now. I can wait there for him.”
“Okay. I’ll call him and see you when you get here.”
I hung up the phone, breathed a deep sigh of relief; and only then did I realize my legs felt stronger. Prying my fingers away from the phone cord, I took a few wobbly steps away from the wall.
I made my way up the steps to the outside door on my rear-end. I needed to spare what strength I did have in my legs for the trek from the front door to my car. How thankful I was to have automatic transmission in this car. If I could just get into the car, things should be okay. All went well, relatively.
By tugging on the metal rail, I managed to climb the steps at the front of the hospital. Soon Doc had declared my blood pressure “Normal,” and everything else he could check at the bedside.
He suggested I spend the day there so the nurses could keep an eye on me; but assumed I’d be fine, after I’d recovered from what he thought had been a migraine headache. I thanked him for the pain shot he’d ordered, and back home the compassionate, elderly physician went.
Doc had been right about one thing: After the pain shot and resting in the darkened room all day, I did feel much better. I could move my head with minimal pain by the time I left the hospital.
Unfortunately, Doc had not been correct in his diagnosis of the cause of Saturday’s painful episode. The migraine-like pain had an elusive and much more serious origin. I’d be fine only until the next attack.
****Crisis Re-Visited…Coming next week.