Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Beth runs away, gets stuck up a mountain in a wheelchair, comes home in ambulance

When running away from home, it is important not to get too distracted. Was I in a devil-may-care mood? Well, I was off to the third oldest cemetery in the city to “see my friends”. After a few hills I saw the turn-off to Moss Rock, the closest mountain crag park we have near where I live. I took the turn off. I rolled slowly up the pavement leading up to the park until eventually the pavement ran out and a small ravened gravel path ascended. Did I stop? No. It took me about 20 minutes to make the first 10 feet. Then the path got steeper. In fact I had to put my oxygen and backpack on my feet and legs to stop from flipping the chair backward as I leaned forwarded every time I pushed. I would struggle to do a few inches and then lock the wheels and rest. At 60-70 feet up, I was well and truly stuck. I didn’t have the energy to make the last 30 feet or so but nor could I see any way to actually get back down. So much for running away; I called Linda and told her I was stuck atop Moss Rock. She wasn’t in. Then it started to rain.

I decided after another long time that I should make an attempt to go down as it was now dark, no one was going to come up the rock and I was on my own. Plus, the more it rained, the more slick the trail and my tires and handrims would get. So I marked how far I had gotten (for the next attempt), and started to slide sideways down the hill. I did not believe I would make it without tumbling end over end because a) I didn’t exactly go UP the hill with a plan to come back down and b) much of the time, due to gullies, one of my wheels wasn’t touching the ground at all, on a very steep incline. On the uphill wheel, I pushed sharply while I pulled just as sharp on the downhill wheel, flipping my wheelchair around in a 180, much like a skier flipping from side to side when going down a mogul hill, then I would lean uphill and let the chair slide sideways downhill until I felt ready to flip it again. To my surprise, I reached the bottom of the hill still in my wheelchair (take that Motion Specialties for being three weeks late delivering my wheelchair...see what I am putting your rental through!).

The long pavement leading up to the hill was too steep for me to be able to slow down enough to avoid hurtling into traffic at the bottom. But by this time, I had little fear, or brains and veered off the road willy-nilly going through grass, gravel, up people’s driveways and pretty much anything that would slow me down as I zigzagged down the hill. I am surprised I didn’t bounce off a telephone pole, though I might have and don’t remember as when I arrived at the bottom, again, strangely, still IN the wheelchair, I called Linda to let her know that I wasn’t stuck atop Moss Rock. I decided to wait 15 to 20 minutes just in case she got my first phone message but not the second and was on her way here now. Then I would continue onto the cemetery as planned...in the rain. However, by this point I felt fairly poorly (tranlated: totally crap) and decided to “rest” by curling the top half of my body up and draping it over my legs. Some time passed. A person driving home stopped to see if I was “okay.” I told them I was and I was waiting for someone to arrive. So much for my career in acting as they did not believe me at all, and then at some point (when I am in a lot of pain, time seems to move very slowly, people however move very quickly) other people arrived, and a doctor. They tried to move me and I fell out of the chair. The next thing I know there are TWO ambulances pulled up. Now I was trying to convince a whole crowd of people that if they just dragged me off to the side of the sidewalk, I would be fine (perhaps more convincing if I could have sat up under my own power).

Ambulance #1 was two “classic” EMT guys (like “classic jerks”) who said things like, “We cannot leave you here because then someone else will call us and it will be a further waste of our time.” They took a pressure cuff reading a few times because they couldn’t find a pulse in my extremities. They made the pressure cuff so tight it was painful enough to wake me up a little. So I asked the EMT guy to do it some more, as the pain brought me a bit out of the nausea, stupor and general “la-la land” I was in enabling me to talk. Once the EMT guy realized I was asking him to “hurt me so I can wake up” he took off the cuff and left in a hurry – apparently not the “right” thing to request. Linda by now, had called on my phone, the EMT talked to her, she arrived when I was trying whispering to one that if they just let me lie on the ground for a while I might be better. EMT Ambulance #1 was very against it but EMT Ambulance #2 brought out their rig and let me lie on it – which started a big of an issue as EMT guys #1 reminded EMT crew #2 and Linda that they only have “so much time” for each call. The second ambulance crew put me in the back of their rig, which is when I found I didn’t have any body strength for independent mobility. They told us that as soon as the first ambulance was gone, they were going to take us home since as we all agreed I was either Adrenal, Thyroid, Electrical, sympathetic nervous system or neurological and non of that was going to be treated at ER. Also, as I reminded them, being a friday night, I am sure there were plenty of drunks out there who needed them. (they told me I was their first "non-drunk" call)

So, I wheel away from home and am brought back in a police car (that would be my dream!), no in an ambulance, almost as good. Once inside, I find that not only can I not move, my right eye is mostly blind (it is like a gauze is placed over it, so I can’t read or clearly see anything). Then the pain starts. When I get to sleep after 3 am, I quickly develop a non-infectious fever to the level where I am hallucinating for many hours (I remember calling “help! Help!”, Linda remembers me yelling, “I’m dying, I’m dying!” – either way she turned over and went to sleep). See, the thing about a fever from a cold or a flu is that there are white blood cells fighting it and when they win, you get better. The fever accompanied by nausea (which the EMT says isn’t a specific symptom just a sign my whole system is messed up), means that something bad is happening inside you (like for instance, you could have an infected internal organ, it could be anything). So you ride the wave and if you wake up, then you aren’t dead. Comforting, no? That was Friday night, Saturday and part of Sunday. Later I lost sight in my left eye but now they both seem to be working fine. And that was this years' “running away from home” followed, oddly, by a bout of depression.

6 comments:

kathz said...

Not good running away. For next year, please plan better. Perhaps you could persuade some of your blog-readers - in suitably Gothic clothing - to accompany you on your way - though I do see that then it mightn't be the solitary adventure you wish. Perhaps you could suggest disguises so that we all blend into the scenery and emerge only when needed. I am drunk (will blog about this later) so not filled with good ideas. But I hope the depression has begun to clear and that you are recovering.

Daniel, the Guy in the Desert said...

Oh....So you mean that all those I saw scenes on film and tv, in which wheel chairs were running downhill completely out of control, weren't funny after all?
I like Kathz idea, perhaps you can just suggest that WE all run away for a while.
I never laugh at pratfalls. I'm the only person I know who winces while watching America's Funniest Home Videos.

elizabeth said...

No, I wince at it too (but only after I laugh). Yep, Beth - no more running away without a buddy.

KateJ said...

I ask myself why you do it... but I think I know the answer.

Gymnastics Requirement said...

There a lot of wonderful ideas around the that we take in our mind. It is good stuff to take the truth of about beth.

belledame222 said...

Holy shit, woman. You are and always will be an athlete--that was classic.

and yes, despite that, I think the next running away adventure should be better planned and more suitably Gothic. a Goreyesque train compartment, say, across desolate moors, an intrigue with the startlingly attractive yet oddly sinister porter, a bottle of absinthe (for atmosphere if nothing else)...