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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Unmechanical Me

Yesterday, I nearly chopped my hand off, at the wrist, with Bob's hospital bed. Now to understand how exactly someone could do such a thing,  how a hospital bed can turn into a deadly weapon or how anyone could manage to get into this precarious situation, one must understand this one thing about me. Which is this: I am totally unmechanical.

Pre-stroke, Bob was Mr. Fix-It and he was great at it. The guy could build anything, fix anything. And he used to love tinkering with things like vintage 1930's radios and such. Me, on the other hand, cannot drive a nail into a board without bending the nail and smashing my thumb with the hammer, to boot. And don't even ask me about mechanical things, like the car or the toilet or a vintage radio. In my perfect world, those things are just supposed to work when you turn the key, or flip the switch, or flush the handle.

I remember the time when I killed The Green Machine's battery. It was when Bob first came home from the hospital, in that chaotic first month, when my dryer broke and our laundry room was filled with piles of urine-soaked bedding and me, I was a total basketcase trying to learn how to take care of him. That day, I had gotten a call from his doctor's office telling me they had just called in a prescription to the pharmacy. That day it was also raining.

Now I hate driving The Green Machine in the rain for two reasons. 1) only one windshield wiper works and 2) the headlights don't always come on... These things of course would have been fixed, if Bob was still in charge, but alas, I have lost my Mr. Fix-It and The Green Machine suffers dearly for it.  But I jumped in the car that day, figuring Bob needed this prescription and the pharmacy is only seven blocks away and I drove off in a light rain with one wiper squeaking against the windshield and not sure if the headlights were on or off even though I had flipped the switch.

I got the prescription and I got back home. The minute I pulled into the driveway that light rain turned into a fierce downpour. So I hurriedly parked the car and dashed into the house. And in the process, you guessed it, I left the headlights on and the keys in the ignition.

I didn't realize what I had done until the next morning when I was looking for my car keys and couldn't find them. And, of course, I went outside and found The Green Machine with the keys in the ignition and the battery completely dead.

This rather freaked me out. Because I had never jumped a car battery in my entire life. I, of course, had seen in done and I knew Bob had this thing called a "jump box" which is used for this purpose. So I opened the trunk and dug out the jump box and looked at it. Now Bob's jump box is not just a jump box but also an air compressor and it has an emergency light on it, I guess, so you can jump things at night. It has various strange gauges and a ton of complicated looking buttons and switches on it. But, like the trooper I am, I went and opened up the hood of the car and looked inside at the battery. Then, I looked at the jump box. Then, tentatively, very tentatively, I tried to attach the cables of that jump box to the battery. Nothing happened. I didn't know what to do next, or even if I had hooked the darn thing up right. Then, I had a vision of me turning the key in the ignition and blowing the whole engine up. So I took the cables off. I believe that's when I started to cry.

What I did next was probably grounds for insanity. Because I took that jump box into the house. I took it right to Bob, lying in his hospital bed, because I didn't know what else to do. Now, back then, Bob could barely speak two words. Mostly he just babbled undecipherable things. But I was desperate and I showed him that jump box and tearfully told him what had happened. And I asked him if he could tell me how the jump box worked.

Bob pointed at the jump box and said, "Car!"

Well, a lot of darn help that was.

But I was, like I said, desperate. So, I got Bob out of bed and into his wheelchair.  I rolled him out the backdoor and down the wheelchair ramp to the driveway to where The Green Machine sat, with its hood still up. I went back into the house to fetch the jump box. When I came back out, tears still streaming down my cheeks, I asked Bob if he could possibly, possibly show me what to do.

And you know what? He did!

He pointed at the cables then at the battery, indicating which cable went where. He even reached in with his good hand and adjusted one of the cables. He pointed to the button which would turn on the battery charger part of the jump box. I asked him, "what next?" because I wasn't sure if we had to wait for it to charge or if I should start the car...

He made a noise like a car starting, i.e.: "VROOOM! VROOM!"

I tell you, that was the day I gained the courage and strength, the faith and hope, I needed to continue on this long journey of stroke recovery. Because that was the day I knew, I mean I really knew, that Bob was still in there. Bob had not left the building, so to speak. He was there, in there! And he could think! Which really I had wondered about before that moment.

Anyway, I have totally digressed off the topic of my plight with the hospital bed. And you're wondering about that. This is what happened:

Yesterday, I had just washed Bob's hair and left him in the kitchen with a towel to dry off while I went to change the sheets on his bed. Bob has a "semi-electric" hospital bed, meaning the head of the bed and the foot of the bed can be elevated by pushing a button. I was lowering the head of the bed when it jammed. Just sort of got stuck. At first, I thought maybe it was an electrical problem, but I could raise the head of the bed, just not lower it.  So something must be jamming it. A long while back, the service guy from the bed company had me put two plywood boards, under the mattress, on the springs to keep the bed from sagging, and I figured one of the boards must have shifted and was in the way. So I pulled all the sheets etc. off and then pulled the heavy mattress and gel overlay to the side and looked at the boards, and sure enough, one was askew. I straightened it and put the mattress back, but when I attempted to lower the head of the bed, it was still stuck. hmmmm.

So I got down on my hands and knees and peered under the bed to see what might have gotten in the way. That's when I noticed that the head of the bed was caught on the edge of the sofa. Aha! So I pulled the bed toward me, away from the sofa, and that's when the head of the bed came crashing down.

Right on top of my wrist.

Sort of trapping my right arm between the steel bed rails.

And man, did that hurt!

With my left hand, I fumbled to find the remote thingy that raises and lowers the bed. I found it and managed to raise the head of the bed off my arm.

Then I collapsed to the floor, screaming in pain. Honest to God, I thought I had shattered my wrist. It hurt so bad. And there was poor Bob, two rooms away in the kitchen, hearing all this commotion.

But I realized, as I lay on the floor, that I could, in fact, move my fingers. I could move my hand, even bend the wrist. So nothing was broken. And after I recovered my wits, I went into the kitchen to get a cold compress for my wrist. Bob was still sitting there, staring at me wide-eyed.  I told him what had happened. Then I said, "Man, I was scared."

Bob said, "I was scared, too."

Which, by the way, is a very good sentence.

I tell you, someone is watching over me. Because today, my wrist is only a little sore. And it could have been a lot worse.


Anonymous said...

Wow, now I know why you haven't been on the internet,lol. Glad you still have your hand. It's great to hear Bob is continuing to use sentences ! Hugs, Patricia

Jenn said...

Holy s**t!!! Keep icing it for a few days. Any external bruising? Good grief!
Thank goodness your wrist survived!!
Thanks for sharing the car battery story - how amazing Bob really was able to help so early in his recovery period. He is a strong guy for sure.

Anonymous said...

I loved the car battery story, and how helpful Bob was even in his poor physical state at the time. His mind was still sharp, and continues to be so.

As I was reading about you trying to lower the bed and it being "jammed", I sort of knew exactly how you hurt your wrist before you disclosed it. I did the same with my wifes bed a few weeks ago, except it had jammed against the fireplace window frame. Thankfully, I didn't have my hands on the lower frame when I slide the bed slightly to free it, because it too, crashed down onto the frame. If it happens again, I'll know to raise the head of the bed first, before moving the bed. You are so lucky your wrist or lower arm wasn't broken. Take care. Hugs, Dan

Anonymous said...

I know someone who got a broken finger from a hospital bed.... Becareful he actually worked in the hospital...