• author
    • Jo Hatcher

    • October 13, 2013 in Columnists

    The hazards of dancing on your washing machine

    What can happen in the blink of an eye…

    I was almost finished. Just one more shelf. The job was easy enough. Getting rid of all the junk, unused, outdated stuff crammed up on high shelves. It was freeing to be getting rid of clutter.

    I was standing, (not actually dancing) on the washing machine, an act that felt as natural as breathing to me. What I didn’t predict was the chair I was using to step down onto would tip over. So many times I had climbed up and stepped on kitchen counters to change light bulbs, stood on cabinets, stepped on the washing machine to reach something needed that standing on stuff seemed like the best way to get what I needed and fast. Sometimes I even just jumped straight down onto the floor.

    In the blink of an eye, I was falling. Backwards. Out of control.

    And fast and hard. My back hit the filing cabinet and the ledge of the desk with a vengeance. I felt the trashcans and pieces of junk on the floor all around me.

    It was a strange sensation. My insides seemed as if they had vaporized. I felt as if something had pierced me. And I could feel a tight band around my chest squeezing the front and back of me.

    My husband was there in seconds. Don’t move! Stay right there, I heard him say.

    I obeyed. I could feel a sting, a sharp stab in my right hand. I knew it was bleeding but I didn’t want to look at it. That would for sure make me reel.

    I want to get up.

    “I’m calling an ambulance,” he said.

    “Don’t be silly, I’m okay” I replied.

    I laid down on the bed face first. Ice. I need ice. And Advil. Lots of it. My husband was there in seconds with the ice and the gauze for my punctured hand. Give me some bloody Advil. I want four. NOW.

    Fifteen minutes. Maybe it was 10. I tried to feel better, to let my body stop hurting. But the pain got worse. I thought, this stinkin hurts. A LOT.  I hate pain.

    At last I said to my husband, “Maybe we should just go to urgent care and have it checked out.” My husband was looking for the keys. The truck or your car? What’s easiest for you to get into? I couldn’t answer. Just trying to stand up was hard. Everything hurt and it was hard to breathe.

    The ride to the hospital was short, but every turn, every bump reverberated in my hurt body. I could barely breathe. The imagined vise around my chest seemed tighter and tighter.

    I said, “Maybe we should just go straight to the ER.”

    The ER. My husband found the guy with the wheelchair. I’m unable to look up, still focused on not dying. My thoughts: Don’t you dare bend over or something will fall out or you’ll feel that knife sensation in your back go in deeper.

    The woman at the desk wanted to know my Social Security number. Oh geez, can’t you see I am half dead, woman? Really? Is your address the same? Are you serious? Who the hell cares?

    My husband is now trying to joke with them. But not even a smile. They are serious people.  I wait, knowing that relief is a doorway away.  All my energy goes to not fainting in the waiting room.

    At last someone is rolling me into triage.

    I am freezing cold.  Some kind soul gets a blanket for me.  And then my hand begins to shake… really shake and it won’t stop. What is that about, I wonder, alarmed. Oh no — now this has set off some kind of Parkinson’s thing.  Great.

    I am rolled into the inner sanctum of the ER. There is no room available so they put me in a bed in the hallway. The nurse tries to cover me up while she gets me into a hospital gown. She tries to hide my bare breasts while I take my shirt off. I don’t care if the whole world sees me naked, dealing with the pain is all I can manage.

    “The doctor will see you in a few moments.”

    I desperately try to control the shaking. For a few seconds I can mentally will my hand to stop. But then the other hand begins to shake. Oh please stop.

    I ask the nurse what’s going on and she says it’s my body coping with the pain, and there is lots of adrenaline. She puts the blood pressure cuff on and my hands start to gnarl up, twist and then they go numb. I’m hyperventilating, creating the cramping phenomenon. I remember my yoga training and start to breathe more deeply when she tells me.

    We wait. And then the nice doctor comes. He exams me.

    “How did you fall?”

    My husband explains it: She was on the washing machine. Can you just imagine the weird stories doctors and nurses in the ER hear everyday?

    “Would you like something for the pain?”

    Do dogs wag their tails?

    He names several things and I hear “morphine.” Yes, I’ll have that, please.

    I surrender to everything, people rolling me places, to the x-ray room. My faithful husband is at my side, telling me what’s going on. We wait. And wait. The pain is starting to subside a bit. But my body is still tense.

    The doctor appears again. There is good news. No broken bones, no punctured insides, no cracked ribs. The cut in your hand is a little deep so I will glue it instead of stitches. And then you can go home.

    Four hours drift by. We wait, there is another shot of morphine before going home. Hallelujah. And I must walk before he will release me out into the to the world.

    He superglues my hand. No stitches, just glue. And then a huge bandage for my hand to keep it safe.

    A man comes into the ER with a spider bite. Thom talks to him and when we leave, spider man says, “Tell your wife to stop pole dancing on the washing machine.” Now I have a reputation: The kooky lady who dances on washing machines. Hmmm.

    Two weeks later, I am still in rest mode. I am sitting on my bed, writing, journaling, learning how to allow my body to heal. My back still warns me that I have not healed yet and that if I don’t listen, then there will be a fresh new round of pain.

    Do we need to say that again? No thank you, Body. I got it. I promise to obey and not do too much.

    I am lucky beyond words not to have broken any parts of my body nor punctured anything.

    The moral of this story is to never think that something bad can’t happen to you, because it can. Just because you do lots of yoga and you think you have unbelievable balance, doesn’t mean you won’t fall. It’s a great lesson in not being stupid, to not take unnecessary chances. And it’s a good reminder to have gratitude for your body and how miraculous it is.

    I bow to you, my body.


    • OMG! Please be careful!

    • So glad you are okay and especially no broken bones or punctured lungs. Great that your bones as strong.. I recently fell on the edge of a steel chair and it’s odd corner hit me by my jaw and I was black and blue for days. But so glad I didn’t puncture my jugular or break my jaw bone. And it was a clumsy fall as I was trying to move these very heavy chairs. I was having 15 women over a spiritual workshop and all I could think was that they would look in my window and see me having bled out. I still think I am young and can do everything. Not at 65. I still do step on the washing machine as well but do have a steady step ladder to step down on.

    • Don, I learned my lesson….I am mega careful now.

      Madge, sounds like you totally get my story. So glad you didn’t puncture anything, either. I don’t like to think that we have to be guarded in our elder years, just “mindful.” Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • Glad you are on the mend!

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