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Oops! I Fell

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HOW AND WHY DID THIS HAPPEN? One minute I had one foot on the dock and the other on the pontoon boat, and the next thing I knew I was laying in a grassy hole on shore with several people around me that were trying to pick me up. The pain was severe. I birthed seven children and did not have that kind of pain, I don’t remember falling at all. My son, daughter-in-law and friends were among those trying to help me. I begged them not to touch me. All I was really aware of was that my right shoulder was immobile and extremely painful. They had already phoned 911 and EMT’s were on the way. It was very soon that they were kneeling by my side. I knew one of the men whom I thought was an EMT person but it turned out that he was just there to help. I was placed on a gurney and put in an ambulance. It would have been a lot less painful if they had not had to lift me. The ride to the small hospital in northern Wisconsin was a blur to me. When I fell, I was told I was partly in the lake. Family and friends picked me out of the water. All this took place on July 9, 2005.
We were joy riding on a pontoon along with other boats and pontoons. We decided to stop at a resort for refreshments before eating dinner. This happened about 7:00 p.m. On our pontoon were myself, two grandsons, son, daughter-in-law, her mother, and her friend. I was used to getting on and off a boat or pontoon because we had a travel trailer parked in a camping park for about thirty-four years. My husband and I were avid fishermen, including fly fishing. That is one of the things I really miss doing now. My children were practically raised there and to this day they come there for the week of July 4 and camp. Two of my daughters and their families drive there every year in their motor homes. They each have children and all the sons enjoy being together that one week. They will not go anywhere else in the summer because they want to be together. They water ski, ride inner tubes, fish, and occasionally get in a little mischief when they were younger. Nothing serious. Now some of them have graduated from college and still won’t give up that week in July. These two daughters live in Pennsylvania. When this fall happened to me I was seventy-five years old. Very active, still working part time and enjoying myself.
The afternoon this happened I opted to not go on the boats with them so I stayed behind and sat outside on a swing and read. Eventually my son and grandsons came for me and insisted I go with them on the pontoon. I did not want to because it was a hot day and I hate hot weather, but I gave in and went. When we tied the boats up at the Resort’s dock I stepped onto the pier and that is all I remember. I spent the weekend in the hospital. Pain meds make me very nauseous. While throwing up on Sunday, there were “coffee grounds” (blood). I was told there were a lot of veins that were cut. On Monday I was scheduled to be transported to a larger city with a larger hospital. I received 2 units of blood before I could go. I spent a week in the hospital, one week in a nursing home where I received physical therapy and then back to the hospital for surgery to repair my shoulder. It was completely crushed. My entire upper body turned completely black which upset me very much. The nurse informed me it was from the internal bleeding. All this time my arm was in a sling and could not move from the elbow to my shoulder. I had no rotator cuff, the muscles and tendons had been cut, the ulna bone broken off between my elbow and shoulder  and all sorts of damage there. As a result I have permanent damage in my wrist and thumb. Ever try to feed yourself, dress, shower, and take care of personal hygiene with an arm that you never used before? I had to learn how to do all that with my left hand. No easy task. I still spill and drop food when I eat. Embarrassing!!! During my stay in the nursing home I underwent physical therapy where my arm was moved around as much as the pain would let him. That could have been my downfall but it was not known at the time. When I went in for surgery to repair my shoulder the surgeon made the incision and positioned my arm he said. A sharp pointed bone that was broken and showed on the x-ray dropped down and cut the large artery in my chest. They called in a cardiac team to fix the artery. There again I was very fortunate because the cardiac unit was all assembled getting ready to do a by-pass. Little did they know it was going to be on me. They had to split my chest open to get to the artery. My leg was cut from the ankle to the knee for a replacement artery and then again in my groin area upper leg. As they were doing this I am told that the blood was everywhere. I was given platelets and eleven and a half units of blood. They saved my life.
After that they could not repair my shoulder because all the parts were contaminated. I spent another week in the hospital and then was sent to a swing bed hospital for recovery and more physical therapy. All in all I think that is the worst month I have ever had in my life. My P.T. continued until the end of January, 2006. I’m sure without that I would not be able to use my arm as much as I do. There are so many things that I took for granted in the past. Never realized it took two arms to do all that. I can no longer pick a baby up, hang pictures on the wall or take them down to clean, scrub floors or get on my hands and knees to do anything because I am unable to rise again without help. I climb stairs one at a time because the right leg is so weak from the surgery. I had to learn to use my left arm and hand and, believe me. That is no easy task. I can no longer really clean my house, cannot fold clothes unless I lay them on the bed first. My arm cannot be raised or extended on its own. There is no pain for which I am eternally grateful. This whole episode was very costly for me because of the medical bills that were not paid by my insurances. I am very grateful that I am still able to live in my home and am still going to the lake in the summer with my son and family. I am most fortunate to still be alive. If my artery was cut at the time of the accident, I believe I would have bled out before the ambulance even got there. God blessed me that day and every day since and I pray that I will never forget that. Someone higher than me, my doctor or all the hospital staff was there to take care of me. Never again will I take small everyday tasks for granted. My children are so good to me. They help me as much as they can. I also am blessed with sisters who have always come to my side when needed. There really is nothing more precious than family. If I won the lottery, there is no doubt who would be the first to share.


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