You might think it would be fairly hard to fall out of a wheelchair, that for it to happen a person would have to be hit by something large or heavy or fast-moving. Or take a corner too fast. Or maybe misjudge the conditions underwheel.
But I was indoors. Nothing hit me. There wasn’t ice or water or high wind to deal with. I wasn’t moving at speed. In fact I wasn’t moving at all
Sometimes MS just does odd and unexpected things to a person.
Things like the sudden muscle spasm it gave to my legs. One minute I was sitting quite happily in my chair, not doing anything much, and the next my legs had kicked out and I had slid down and out onto the floor.
Now probably my first word should have been an expletive. Actually it was the word ‘baclofen’. Which, in the MS world, is the name of a well-known muscle relaxant and anti-spasm medication.
I hadn’t taken mine. Not because I’d forgotten to take it, which obviously, is easily done, but because I had deliberately cut down on the dosage. A side effect of baclofen is that it can lead to muscle wastage, so the amount you take can be a bit of a juggle. This time I had clearly juggled wrong.
Now in this sort of situation I have learned it’s not worth struggling. I don’t have the wherewithal to manouvre myself up and back to sitting. I knew I’d need help.
In the past I’ve had one of those pendants with a button you can press to summon assistance. But (maybe it was over-confidence, maybe it was even a nasty case of hubris) I had decided not to pay the monthly pendant fee.
It had to be an ambulance.
So I called 999. Not 111. Ambulance people have told me before that a situation like this definitely counts as an emergency, that even if you don’t feel like your life is in danger, that you are not bleeding uncontrollably or lying there with broken bones akimbo, you do need urgent attention.
The telephone ambulance people asked me what had happened. Was I bleeding? Was I in pain? Then they said they were really busy and they would do their best but it could be a wait of up to six hours.
After an hour I called back. I know there might have been properly dying people out there who needed an ambulance NOW, but it was getting more and more painful on that cold hard floor. All you can do is fight your own corner.
They turned up just before the two hour mark.
And of course they were amazing. Whipped me onto the Manga cushion and up into the wheelchair. A quick check for any cuts and bruises (none to speak of). A quick blood pressure reading (130/75, not bad given the circumstance). And then the interminable form-filling. It’s the bureaucracy that’s the worst of it.
So all in all a far from painless experience, but maybe one to learn from. Baclofen (other muscle relaxants are available) might be more my friend than I thought.