Why I don’t overreact when my husband falls over.

My husband is 19 years older than me and he has a heart condition that causes him to overheat (he had the “widow maker” heart attack when he was 39, before we met). He had a stroke a year after the heart attack (still before we met) which has left his left side alternatively ultra sensitive and completely numb. To top it all off, shortly after we started dating the pickup truck he was driving while towing a boat  was rear-ended by a tractor trailer and he got chronic vertigo from the accident.

In other words, he’s normally only about a half step away from hitting the ground.

Tonight we had our bowling league and it was very warm in the building even before we started. He was sweating profusely and with about 3 frames left in the 2nd game, he was looking so bad I told him I’d hogtie him if he even joked about bowling the 3rd game. He tends to push himself too hard. Luckily we were already on the same page.

In the 10th frame of the second game he threw a spare, which definitely looked like he’d done everything in his power to stay straight. As he walked back to push the button to reset the pins, I was pretty sure that he was either going to fill it with a 1 or he was going to hit the floor.

Now, he doesn’t actually fall very often! In fact, I think I’ve only seen him fall maybe once, though he’s told me about numerous occasions when he has fallen and I haven’t been around, but most of these have been in ditches while retrieving a car as a tow truck driver or not being able to get out of bed properly. On flat ground, he’s usually more or less stable, though he’s often catching himself on tables, or at the bowling alley, the ball return and wall (he likes lane 16 because of the wall!).

Anyway. When he let go of the ball for his fill, it looked straight for the pocket and I was bracing myself for him to hit the ground. He nearly caught himself, but then, down he went.

I stayed in my chair. I did not jump up and rush towards him. I guess to an outsider I appeared like I didn’t care that my husband had just hit the ground.

But really, I’d never taken my eyes off of him. Since I knew he was going to fall, I was watching to make sure he landed properly. He’s twice my weight, so there’s no way I could have caught him without him crushing me, so the only thing I could do was watch and see whether he’d land properly or whether he’d seriously hurt himself.

As he started to go towards the floor, I’d seen that he’d gone into his stumble backwards, meaning that he was falling butt first. This is good! He’d twisted his body somewhat, so I thought he’d landed more on one butt cheek than the other, but it turns out that he’d bumped his knee when he’d landed. However, from watching the way he fell, I knew he hadn’t actually twisted anything, which he confirmed after the fact.

Once he was on the ground, I still didn’t get up. I was still watching him. Two guys who were up to bowl after he’d finished (one off either lane next to him) came over to help him up. He refused the hands as I knew he would and levered himself back to his feet.

First, I know from personal experience as a klutz who trips a lot, a person who has just wiped out needs a minute or two to put their senses back together, so running over to drag them to their feet isn’t very helpful. Second, I know that most people who have just fallen down are embarrassed about looking stupid in front of a crowd and would love it if everyone just ignored what just happened.

He was able to get up on his own terms and without pain, or rather, without any worrisome pain that would come from a serious injury. In other words, he was fine from the fall.

I was concerned about the overheating, though. He definitely looked done in, BUT, I have seen him look worse. He has nitroglycerin pills for emergencies and I have seen him look terrible right before taking one of them. Tonight, he didn’t look like he needed one and I don’t believe he took one. He really just needed to get out to his car where he could blast the AC and get his body temperature back where it needed to be and I was torn between making him actually sit a moment and getting his shoes changed so he could run outside.

By the way, though he has taken the nitro roughly once every few months, there has never been anything on his heart monitor report that has ever indicated that he really needed it.

I gave him about 10 minutes outside before I went to check on him. One of the bowling alley employees had given him a rag full of ice to put on his neck, which was kind of her. He’d put it on even though he really hates the feeling of dampness on his neck (I think he was just being polite; he told me that he started feeling better as soon as he got outside where it was at least 10 degrees cooler). He really did look a lot better while sitting in his car and he was on the phone with his son, so I felt fine leaving him out there while I went back to bowl the 3rd game.

20 or so minutes later I started worrying about him a little because usually when he overheats enough to skip the 3rd game, he comes back inside within a couple frames, but this game was half over. So I went back outside and he was simply still on the phone with his son. He came back inside a short while later and while not looking 100% (for him), he looked a heck of a lot better than he had!

I know that I was probably the least worried person who’d seen him fall, but then, I’m not someone who gets frazzled during an emergency. Generally I fall apart after the emergency is over, but since I never felt that he was in any real danger, there was no reason for me to fall apart at all.

It’s not like when my dad dehydrated himself a few years ago and fell twice at home.

When my mom found him on the floor, she started screaming hysterics. My brother was baffled. And I took charge. I got him up and conscious and was able to walk him outside to await the paramedics my mom had managed to call (911 sent out fire and police as well because she’s was in a panic and not good at explaining the emergency). The paramedics actually walked right past my dad, who was looking fine-ish on the porch, until we told them that the fallen person was right there. They looked him over, took his blood pressure, and said that they couldn’t find anything wrong with him. He declined any medical attention and since everything seemed okay, we told them that they could leave and my dad got up to go back inside.

I was following close behind him and right inside the front door, he went down again. Luckily this time I was able to get my arms under his armpits and more or less lowered him to the ground. Okay, really it was a controlled fall because I’m 4’10.5″, 120 lbs and my dad is 5’10”, 160 lbs and I couldn’t actually keep him upright. When I caught my dad, I knew that we were both hitting the floor, so I just tucked my leg under me and sat down hard.

Hence why I wasn’t too concerned about my husband’s fall: he’d essentially done the same thing tonight.

I told my brother to run out and get the paramedics again; they were still parked in the driveway doing paperwork. They helped get my dad into his bed (where he wanted to be) and then helped him get into the car when I told him that he was going to the hospital and he could either ride in the car or the ambulance.

I calmly drove my dad to the hospital in his car. My brother drove my mom in his truck–they rode separately because my mom needed to grab some stuff from the house for my dad and it was easier for them to just come behind me. I hadn’t been able to find my phone during the 5 minutes it took for the paramedics to get him into the car, so I’d just grabbed my dad’s.

At the hospital, I parked the car next to the emergency entrance and went inside to get an orderly to help me get my dad inside. Once he was in a wheelchair and in the hands of a nice nurse, I had to move the car into a parking spot.

At this point, I pretty much lost my shit. The emergency was out of my hands and I was no longer able to keep it together. I had no idea why my dad had suddenly fainted twice.  I was in tears, trying to see well enough to get into a proper parking spot. I’m surprised that the only thing I hit was the curb at the emergency entrance which was curved and I couldn’t see where it ended and the road towards parking spaces started.

When I got the car into a parking spot, I called my husband (he was my boyfriend of less than a year at the time). Well, I was using my dad’s phone, which is connected via Bluetooth to the car. I hate Bluetooth! I had dialed the phone normally, but it decided to connect to the car’s radio, so I had the phone up to my ear, but my husband’s voice was coming out of the speakers. I was speaking into the mouthpiece, but the microphone is actually in the roof above the driver’s seat. In other words, I’m sitting there blubbering like an idiot, trying to explain to him what had happened and where we were and that I wanted him there NOW, all while getting incredibly pissed that I couldn’t understand him and he was having trouble understanding me!

Luckily he did get the message and arrived in I think record time. He was very good at calming me down and getting my mind off of every worst case scenario; his son too, who he’d brought since he wasn’t sure what the situation required.

It took about 24 hours for the doctors to determine that my dad had just severely dehydrated himself (though he perked up within an hour of them giving him his first bag of fluids as soon as he’d been properly admitted). He spent an additional two days in the hospital as they tried to figure out how he’d dehydrated himself and debated whether to continue the “battle prep” for the colonoscopy.

You see, that’s what he’d been doing when he’d dehydrated himself. He’d spend all day drinking Gatorade and laxatives for the colonoscopy he was supposed to get. His doctors were baffled that the battle prep was the cause of the dehydration because the Gatorade was supposed to keep him hydrated.

However, my dad has some weird (UNDIAGNOSED) form of diabetes and he hadn’t even thought about the sugar content of Gatorade when he planned his battle prep. A few weeks later he experimented and drank a bottle of Gatorade and paid attention as he peed out more than he had drank. This is what had happened to cause the severe dehydration, though after 3 nights in the hospital, the doctors still couldn’t figure out the cause. Had my dad been thinking about sugar, he would have chosen a diabetic friendly battle prep and would have been fine. But, because his A1C is practically perfect, his doctors are convinced that he is not diabetic. Dur–he’s able to control his sugars with diet and exercise and has been treating the diabetes for over a decade–before it could start to negatively affect his body!

My dad did enjoy his mini-vacation in the hospital where he was doing as much walking around as he could get away with despite being labeled a fall risk. They even gave him the nifty compression cuffs for his legs!


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