Life in the fast lane: My night on the tiles! 1



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Regular readers may recall earlier blogs on my being a quad, albeit only a ‘plastic’ model. Hopefully they may also remember being introduced to my new location at an Over 55 Independent Living Rental Facility.

This story tests the independent component of the venue and offers a little more insight into the pleasures of quadriplegia. My night, and bed, regime is greatly enhanced by being able to utilise a bed-pole to assist getting in and out of bed and, when necessary through the night, a bottle to save nocturnal visits to the loo. This bottle is usually placed on a cupboard beside my bed.

It so came to pass recently that I prepared, in my usual fashion, to go to bed. Evening ablutions completed, light off, transfer to the bed, disrobe, swing my legs up, lay back and pull the covers over. Sleep usually comes fairly readily and I journeyed happily into the Land of Nod. This proved very satisfying until around 2am when there was some urgency to use the bottle. There is often some effort in rolling over to reach this goal which, on this occasion, was further torpedoed by the absence of the bottle. There is then some bother, generally helped by muttered imprecations, in getting to a sitting position to transfer to my wheelchair. Accomplished, under some stress from a bladder wanting to contribute output rather than input to the project, I then pulled myself upright with the bed-pole and went to swing myself across to the chair. At this critical juncture my left knee reminded me of an earlier time football mishap by collapsing on me. Problem! Still attached to the pole I was able to have some control over my descent; pausing briefly with one cheek on the bed and one on a wheel I was fortunate to be able to swing further to finish in a kneeling position with elbows on the bed.

No worries; just raise myself until I could fall forward and roll around on the bed till I could fix myself up. Well; some worries now! I was able to get nearly high enough but couldn’t get enough purchase on the carpet with my useable foot to attain my goal. At this stage my need for the bottle was somewhat reduced by way of a towel that I have on the bed and now on the floor. I then spent considerable time repeating this exercise in the forlorn ambition that I would get stronger, or grow taller, by these efforts. Eventually, lucidity returned, being somewhat prompted by pain in the toes. I quite possibly missed my best opportunity of success by neglecting to utilise my kneeling position and asking for levitation powers. At this stage I resigned myself to having to change my position to turn around to sitting on the floor with my back to the bed. Right here I did show an unusual degree of sense by scrabbling blindly on the cupboard and finding my phone ‘just in case’.

While thus sitting, I felt my shoes in the dark and thought that if I could put them on I would have plenty of grip if I was at some stage able to get to my earlier position. Considerable effort expended here to put my shoes on which would have been better used in thinking levitation thoughts as I had ‘Buckleys’ of getting to a kneeling position again. Another rush of ‘sense’ prompted by further discomfort resulted in grabbing my cushion off the chair for a pillow, putting the phone where I could reach it and laying out on the floor. ‘Laying’ was a little poetic as the bed stopped me from rolling to my right side and bloody shoes prevented me from straightening out my legs properly. I was able to reach my cotton trousers to drape over my shoulders and keep moving in trying to keep them there. However; I was now in a position to be able to plan my future.

Problem: stuck on the floor and not able to get up—ok, work on that later. Problem: two keys to my unit—both locked in with me. Think about that. Problem: probably not two blokes in the place able to lift my dead weight to the bed if they could get to me. So, it’s not all bad as I have a bit to think about and plenty of time to do this as I wouldn’t ring anyone before daylight at 7 o’clock.

It seems that it could have been close to a 10 hour gap between 2 and 7 o’clock and the exercise of trying to keep my trousers over my shoulders didn’t help a great deal for body heat but eventually welcome daylight started to be there. I might add that I was fortunate to also have a couple of hand towels used as cushion covers able to soak up excess body fluid during the night. OK; light; action! Grab the phone and peer myopically at the screen without glasses and frantically seek the number of the off-site manager to get a key. Bugger! I thought that I had that but I must have been thinking email address. Mmm! OK; I do have the number of a friend in the unit who struggles with using his mobile. Try about three times and ‘Yes!’, he answers which is probably the first major lurch forward. “OK, mate. Get dressed please; the cook will be here now. Find her and see if you can sort out a Master Key”. I then call my son-in-law (earlier readers will be aware that ‘long suffering’ would be a suitable adjective for Iain) to alert him to the fact that he may be in a position to contribute very favourably to my wellbeing. An initial burst of laughter, followed by some consternation and then comments not designed to help my ego led to another mind and body on the case.

Shortly after this there was the chance for some communication with Brian by shouting back and forward and then a rattle as the door opened. Wendy (cook) had gained access to a key and they rushed in to help put Humpty Dumpty together again. A bit of tidying up, a towel over me, a follow-up call to Iain who had picked up a work mate and was just around the corner. Before I had time to think about it they were inside, Iain took an arm to sit me up and the two of them lifted me onto the bed. Heater on; electric blanket on; covers on and I spent a couple of hours laying about while I warmed up.

There were a few issues that were considered and tweaked over the next day or two and I would like to say that the experience has left me a wiser person. However; the very next night I had reached the point of swinging my legs onto the bed in the dark when I realised the bloody bottle wasn’t there!

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Kevin Bailey

  1. Could you have called the Ambulance?

    I enjoyed your story but not your predicament. I have legs which sometimes are much use to me as legs. Once I am down, I can’t get up again.

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