After The Fall

Posted by Candace Cable in Life After Paralysis on June 30, 2015 # Health

It seems there is some falling going on. Fellow blogger Allen Rucker's Before the Fall blog and now I have my After the Fall blog!

So when last we connected I had only moments ago tumbled and I attempted to close my last blog with a trace of suspense recounting that all was well with my world and then my world turned upside down in a matter of seconds when I fractures my left leg. Since that moment the most pressing question I get is, "how did you break your leg?" It really is quite simple and I compare it to a non-disabled person, stumbling. I simply fell out of my wheelchair.

My orthopedic doctor tells me my fractures resemble more a buckled; crumpling of my left leg tibia plateau and fibula, more than a crash, snap fracture. This harmed area of my leg, is verynear the crown of both tibia and fibula bone, anchoring with the femur, making a complete knee joint. And this is why this type of injury necessitates a rigid elevated full leg cast, annihilating independent freedom of movement for this paraplegic.

But let's go back in time to that fateful moment when...So there I was, cheerfully chatting away to my sister's husband, Scott, who was standing gallantly behind my wheelchair holding it in place for me as I wrangled by body out of the backseat of the car, to perched on the front edge of my cushion as I positioned my legs.

Using my left hand I'd gotten both my legs out and placed them onto the footplate while steadying myself by holding on to the car door with my right hand. Remember I said I was talking, this denotes I wasn't paying attention and what I wasn't directing my attention to, were my brakes, I thought I had secured my brakes, I had not.

In the perched position, ready to shift my weight fully back into my seat, I said to Scott, "I got this". I one smooth move, he stepped away, the wheelchair shot back and I was brought to my knees only just saved from fully crushing to the ground by my firm grip on the door frame dangling me a mire three to four inches above the ground and from utter destruction, in hindsight. Scott scooped me up into my chair and there I sat, stunned, heart beating wildly.

The next few hours I did my best to ignore the nagging question in my consciousness, "what if I have a broken...?" "should I go get a x-ray?" I countered, doing my darnedest to boldly convince myself, "there's no swelling, I feel ok", "it's just a little adrenaline from the fall I'm feeling", as a fluttery, butterfly feeling in my solar plexus began to take hold and build. I distracted myself, I took a shower, packed some clothes, ate some food. But bit-by-bit I began to feel a bit off, a slight headache, increasing fever like shivers and then, my left knee began to noticeably, swell. By eight that evening I was ready for that trip, I didn't want to take to the emergency room.

As a precaution, for support, I wrapped my left leg with ace bandages. Deep inside, knowing, that untaught knowing, that these were no idle precautions I was taking, these were essential and there was a fracture, somewhere in my leg. I've said a number of times in the past, that I thought our human super power is, denial. Denial of what clearly is happening and we choose to ignore it because we want, desperately, a different happening

I was drunk with denial as I entered through the doors of the ER. Cheery, chatting, still doing my best to not face the music that was increasing its volume, faster and faster toward the crescendo I didn't want to hear. I wholly distracted myself with the discovery of a my-wheelchair-size-check-in kiosk, going on and on about how this one is so perfect for me and this kiosk is so inclusive and bla, bla, bla, until my lecture was suspended by the call to the compulsory taking of my vital signs.

Now here is where the story gets good. My normal blood pressure is about 110 over 65; this blood pressure result was 195 over 102. Yep, my eyes grew to beach ball size and my ability to speak was cut short by short, sharp anxiety driven breaths that I knew exactly what to do to slow this train down. I took a few long deep breaths, exhaled longer and slower. When I could finally speak I asked, "isn't this really high?" "No, not unusual". Well, I thought it was unusual.

At the time I didn't recognize the signs of autonomic dysreflexia, one because my lesion level is T10, so I'm lower than the typical spinal cord injury, SCI, level that will exhibit this symptoms and two, I just never thought about this sympathetic nervous system response happening to me due to something irritating or causing discomfort (my fracture) below my injury level. But I was having this response, unknowingly to me and I was in a dangerous place, physically and no one questioned it.

I continued to say my normal blood pressure was way below these numbers and not one of the medical staff asked me a single question about my SCI of which I kept telling them about nor did they think this spiked blood pressure was an issue. The next scene in this hospital drama of feeling like no one is listening to me, comes just moments later. I am moved into a private room, with my sister and her husband in tow. I'm hooked up to a blood pressure machine, now I can watch it every few minutes, and the Doctor comes in

I say hello, my name and the tell him, looking in his eyes, "I have a SCI, I am a paraplegic when you touch my legs I can't feel anything at all and I've injured my left leg, the knee is swelling". He touches my leg and says, "can you feel this?" What happened next was immediate and I thought that if my sister had had a sword in her hand the Doctor would have lost his head in that second when the words came from her mouth, "she just told you she can't feel anything, aren't you listening?"

And that is how these past four weeks have felt each and every time I connect with the next medical professional, and I have connected with no less than fifty people so far, it feels to me that no one is listening. Instead each medical professional has that surprised look of first seeing an alien when I come in and they fall back into this Standard of Care mode mindset that has no notation of, referring to SCI information for insight, to get some clue about me.

As the days ticked by, I became deeply depressed, frightened and untrusting of my Doctors and I was becoming exhausted continuously educating and advocating for myself, feeling like I was going forward one step and two back. I was getting isolated, but then I was in enough mental pain I surrendered and asked for more help. Once I reached out to community, here at the Reeve Foundation, on Facebook and friends and family I began to get answers, quickly that I could relay to my Doctor. He was and is receptive to these new ideas, example instead of a Standard of Care cast, notice my long-leg AFO so we can keep a close eye on my skin

I have more to share about this journey of forward and back as I heal this leg, my heart, mind and find my joy again. The juicy stuff of the emotional roll-a-coaster is up next!!! Please know that you, reading this, have assisted me on my path to wholeness during my staycation, many thanks to you!!!

Many Blessing to All, In Joy, Candace

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The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.