Even though I don’t often blog about matters related to my personal life, I suppose one tends to get a bit contemplative while spending an evening in an emergency room. So here’s a little anecdote I thought I’d share.
It was just one of those crazy things: I’d received revision notes from my editor, and after spending several hours musing over one particular note that wasn’t quite coming together, I thought relaxing might help. I decided to take a bath, but had only allotted myself ten minutes for this “relaxing”–which made it slightly aggravating when I got into the tub and realized I’d forgotten the soap in the shower. Wanting to get down to this “relaxing” business as quickly as possible, I hopped out of the tub, bolted across the hardwood floor, stepped onto the shower tile with wet feet and–
No warning, no way to break my fall. I landed hard on the tile and hit my head, neck, and back. I lay there for a moment, dazed, but aware enough to know that it was a bad fall, and that I felt off, and that the bathroom door was locked. So I got up, grabbed my phone off the vanity and called my husband, who was downstairs in the kitchen.
Mr. James: “Are you okay?”
Me: “I fell. Can you come up?”
Then I unlocked the bathroom door so he could get in, laid down on the floor, and completely blacked out.
According to Mr. James, who found me lying on the floor, I was unconscious for about ten seconds. What I remember is someone saying, “Julie, can you hear me?” and then I opened my eyes to find some guy staring down at me with a concerned expression. I didn’t recognize my husband at first–although I remember thinking, “He’s nice-looking, whoever he is.” I had no clue who or where I was, so I didn’t answer for several moments. Then it clicked, finally, and the first thing I said was, “I’m okay.”
Fast-forward several hours–after much hemming and hawing about whether I needed to see a doctor–I went to the emergency room because my neck and back were sore. After a neurological exam, and a head/neck CT scan, the attending physician concluded that I was going to be okay. (Yay!)
Now, why am I sharing all this? I guess because this is one of those experiences that makes a person think about how really bad a fall like that could’ve gone. So as long as I’m in this contemplative mood, here’s what I learned:
1. When the triage nurse asks you why you didn’t come to the ER immediately after falling, don’t say, “Well, I kept checking my pupils in the mirror and they looked okay to me.” This will get you a strong look of disapproval.
2. When the studious fourth-year medical student comes in to examine you before reporting to the attending physician, be prepared to have a loooong chat about your entire medical history. (“So, your seasonal allergies. . . have they been bad this year?”)
3. When waiting in the ER for hours with a head injury, charts like this will inexplicably strike you as funny:
4. When waiting in the ER for hours with a head injury, don’t ask the attending physician if you can have a snack. Because his answer–“No, just in case.”–will lead you to spend several hours panicked and wondering, “Just in case of what?”
5. And finally, in case you’re someone like me, always running around trying to fit thirty hours of stuff into a twenty-four hour day, I leave you to consider these two words: Slow down. As a working mom with two young kids, I totally understand being busy. But as a wise man once said: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”