I’d been thinking about how we need to establish a better protocol for if I fall. The kids know if no other adult is around which family members to call for help. But I’ve been wondering how anyone would know if there is an injury involved that needs medical attention? They are all so used to me being unable to respond due to temporary paralysis and spasms locking my body up tight how will they know if there is an injury? Often when I’m in a very uncomfortable position I want them to move me so I can breathe better or be in less pain, but how will they know if and when it’s not safe to move me? And truth be told, will we ever be ready to risk calling for emergency medical care while I’m in such a state again?
Suddenly memories came flooding back from a few months ago. I’ve had a lot of episodes since, but nothing quit so awful, so long, or so severe. I never finished or published a blog piece about it, I think in part because I just wanted to forget it… but here it is again, the memories so vivid it’s almost like it just happened the other day.
The morning had gone well enough I was sure I’d be fine the rest of the day. After nap time the kids went outside to play and I rested just a little bit more. It was then I felt it. The buzzing warning signals in my legs. All I could think about was that if I was going to be stuck in bed with legs that don’t work I wanted my children indoors so I could keep a better eye on them. I thought I had time if I hurried. That was a big mistake, leaving the safety of my bed, but my thoughts were only for my children.
I started down the hall leaning on the wall for support as I felt my legs getting worse with each step I tried to take. I slid down the wall to the floor as my legs collapsed underneath me. Grateful it wasn’t a hard fall and still needing to get to the kids I decided to crawl the rest of the way. That only lasted a few paces as my legs quit working entirely, and so, still determined I tried dragging myself along with just my arms that last little bit. I didn’t make it. I totally collapsed just a few feet from the door unable to move anywhere on my own anymore.
I had my phone clutched in my hand and tried to call for help before I totally lost ability to use my hands. That call wasn’t very successful, and so I just had to wait for one of my kids to find me. I prayed it would be soon. I prayed they would be ok. And as my body twisted and jerked I prayed I wouldn’t hit my head too hard on the cement floor. I was laying in a doorway with not too much room to move.
Minutes felt like hours. But eventually a child wandered in for something and found me there. My oldest pried my phone out of my twisted fingers and made the phone calls she has been trained to do. They reassured her they were on their way, but I could still tell she was really distressed and it broke my heart. One of my littlest ones picked a bouquet of little flowers and tucked them in my fisted hand… I wished I could comfort them, but all I could do was lay there and fervently pray for them.
Those prayers were a good thing to help keep my mind distracted from what was going on in my body. By the time my husband, and father, and then sister showed up I was in really bad shape. I was in so much pain as my body alternated between slowly twisting so far I wanted to scream in agony and wondering when something would break to thrashing around so violently I was sure I was going to get hurt by hitting something too hard. It was those moments they did their best to try to protect me by moving things out of the way of my flailing body or putting themselves between me and where I could do damage.
It was by this point panic set in. I had tried so hard to remain calm, but it all became too much. Muscles tightening around my chest with each spasm, diaphragm seizing and stopping my breathing completely until it let up, hitting a wall or doorway or person every time my body jerked…. claustrophobia got the better of me and I had a panic attack. Then I really felt like I couldn’t breathe as I started to hyperventilate on top of everything else. I fought to regain control of my mind and emotions. I knew this wasn’t helping me at all. I would do ok until I bumped into someone or something again and claustrophobia would try to take over again. Somehow I managed to say “move me” and they drug me to another place. We had to do this twice to finally get me in the living room in a more open space. The pain from the rug burn from being dragged was worth it.
The diaphragm spasms were really severe and relentlessly returned time and time again. There were times they held on so long I began to lose consciousness before they suddenly let up and I was left gasping for air. Honestly those brief moments of everything fading as I began to pass out were a welcome relief, but then I snapped back to painful reality again. As those long minutes turned into real hours I began to wonder how much more my body could take. I was exhausted and so weary of fighting it all… I was giving up. No more strength left. Wondering if my family would know when it was time to give in and call for emergency medical care. I was still more afraid of calling for help and risking being misunderstood and mistreated than what horrible things my body was doing to me… And yet I didn’t want them to wait too long and regret it either.
And then it was over.
The spasms began to calm, my breathing was less labored. I was left weak and still unable to move or talk well but we knew that would come. Finally able to open my eyes, finally able to communicate just enough to let them know I was ready to be transferred to my bed where I could recover better, and then finally able to let my children know I loved them …
Eventually we talked. We talked about how scared people were. We talked about what I went through, what I couldn’t communicate about at the time and how we could handle it better next time. Those talks always help and are so important.
It took me days to recover, but a lot longer than that for us all to move on emotionally. I guess I’m not quite there yet, if it came up unexpectedly and so vividly all this time later. I think knowing it could happen again and worse next time doesn’t help. I’m just so grateful it wasn’t worse. I could have fallen and injured myself when my legs collapsed, I could have repeatedly slammed my head on the cement floor, but by God’s mercy I didn’t.
And so, we do our best to plan, to have protocols put into place for different situations, but ultimately pray. Pray for protection, pray for mercy, and pray for wisdom with each new situation as it arises. Yes, I do have fears of being injured and no one knowing it because they are used to me not being able to communicate but eventually being fine. It’s something we need to talk about more, something we can prepare for a little better too, but I also realize I’ll only be at real peace about it by trusting God with it all.