Sunday, 4 November 2012

A Long, Dark Night

They'd not long gone to bed. He'd dropped off to sleep quite quickly, but she lay a little while thinking through what needed to be done the next day at work. As she did so she suddenly remembered something she'd need that she'd forgotten to put into her work bag; concerned that if she waited till the morning she'd forget it again, she slipped quietly out of bed and crept from the room, being careful not to disturb her husband.

She didn't put the landing light on. She was familiar enough with the staircase; she'd been using it for over 8 years now after all, and there was some faint light coming through the glass panel of the front door leading into the hallway below. She paused briefly to let her eyes adjust to the darkness, then set off downstairs.

As she neared the bottom the headlights of a passing car showed brightly through the front door's glass. Slightly dazzled, she paused again before resuming. That moment proved her undoing, however: she'd lost track of exactly where she was, and, while thinking she'd reached the hallway, she actually had one more step to go. As she put her right foot down on what she confidently expected to be level ground, it landed half on and half off the right-hand edge of the step and she fell, the foot bent sideways to her ankle as she landed heavily upon it. With a sharp intake of breath followed by an involuntary cry on the exhale she heard a distinct 'crack' and felt an agonising pain shoot through her foot and ankle.

For a few long moments all she could do was lie on her back, holding back sobs, as she clutched her shin to keep her foot off the ground and tried to assess exactly what had happened. The swelling was immediate, as was the appearance of bruising - it was clear that she had done some significant damage. As she lay there, she heard a movement upstairs, and was thankful that someone had heard her and was coming to her aid. She'd hoped it was her husband, but instead she heard the voice of her son:

"Mum? Are you OK?"
"Um - I'm not sure, darling. I fell on the stairs," she replied, her voice shaking with the effort of disguising the tears of pain and shock she didn't want him to hear.
"Shall I get Dad?" he asked, the concern in his voice showing that she had only partly been successful.
"Please," she called back weakly.

It took just a few seconds for him to wake his father, but time had taken on a strange, elastic quality for her now. Down he came, his own sleep and anxiety and her pain-hazed ears blurring his words as he asked her what she'd done and exclaimed over the swelling and discolouration. They quickly established that she would need to go to A&E to be properly checked over, and that he should phone her mother to ask her to come and look after the children. He hastened to do so, then pulled on some clothes and found a warm hoodie for her to put on over her pyjamas. With his help she pulled herself over to the stairs and sat there, rocking gently, while he found a pillow and duvet to make up a temporary bed on the sofa for her mother.

She wasn't really keeping track of time now. She heard her mother arrive and ask how she was, and was aware of a conversation that resulted in her husband calling for an ambulance as they realised that it would be almost impossible to get her into the car. Soon that same glazed panel showed flashing blue lights as the ambulance pulled up outside, and the paramedics swiftly and efficiently, yet gently and with compassion, took over. They carefully transferred her to the ambulance, giving her gas and air to ease the pain as they moved her. They performed some basic assessments, including checking her blood sugar levels, which was one of the worst parts for her due to her needle phobia! But throughout it all their reassuring and professional manner eased her mind and gave her confidence in the care she was receiving. At one point she joked weakly that it was a shame they weren't using the siren, as that would be a good tale to tell the children, and they obliged her by putting it on for a few seconds once they were away from the residential area!

By the time they reached the hospital, her husband had also arrived by car. He accompanied her as they transferred her to a bed and took her through to 'Minors'. She was quite flattered until she realised that they were referring to the severity of her injury rather than her age.... And then they settled in for the long wait until pain relief was offered, x-rays were taken, and eventually - 5 hours after their arrival at A&E - two doctors agreed on the diagnosis of a sprained ankle and she was issued with crutches and sent home.

It was a long, dark night.

The storm would come later, when she discovered that the two doctors had missed seeing a broken foot bone, and the senior nurse had set the crutches at the wrong height. They had also managed to send her home while she was suffering a bad reaction to the pain relief they'd given her, and was clearly dizzy and light-headed and unable to stay upright for long. But that's another story...

If you've managed to read all of this, well done and thank you! This is my contribution to Sian's Storytelling Sunday, but mainly I just wanted to get these memories down and recorded before they fade - as I hope they will....

30 comments:

Amy said...

Ahhh, I should have guessed, of course ... the long dark night!
What happened to the props and the photos?

Mary B said...

I'm sure the memory will fade but Oh what a dark night for you that was.
{{{{{{{{{{{huggles}}}}}}}}}}}

Kirsty.a said...

Stairs inthe night time. You've stirred up a story which, after 10 yearts, is never far from my mind but I still don't think I have the courage to put it into print

Kirsty.a said...

Sorry, selfish comment. I am, of course, happy that this was a month agoa nd that you are now on the mend

debs14 said...

We have finally found one good thing about your recent injury - an ideal background for this month's theme!
Every cloud has a silver lining eh?!

Jimjams said...

A VERY scary story - and having done just that (with much less serious consequences) I was right there with you in the pain/shock-induced confusion.
So glad that DH knew exactly what to do though and even more glad that you are finally mending.

scrappyjacky said...

A very 'dark' story....but there is light at the end of the tunnel!!

furrypig said...

bloomin stairs! My friend was coming down the stairs to check on the dinner and slipped and broke her arm! Hope things are getting better xxx

alexa said...

The filled-in details make it all the more vivid - and I have stopped running up and down our wooden stairs in my socksoles! What a long dark night it was ...

Missus Wookie said...

Stairs are scary things aren't they? So many accidents have happened on them. Hope the memories fade as the foot heals. Also glad that Alexa (and hopefully others) to be more careful on stairs!

shuddering with the others from the details.

qwiksave said...

Great retelling, we could almost feel your pain.

I know its not helpful to be wise after the event but we have a light sensitive, plug-in night light on our flight of stairs which helps us avoid accidents when on night expeditions.

JO SOWERBY said...

this soooooooo reminds me of when I broke my ankle. Differences were I twisted, dislocated and broke it while dancing at my friends, they were all drunk or high so just kept laughing when I said I needed to go to hospital. I got '' U could go by taxi!!!'' Once I got there my friend Sarah held my hand while they put it back in.....ouch very sore thank you. Then it got even more interesting but maybe I'll do a storytelling sunday on that,
Jo xxxx

Angela said...

I spent Thursday night in A&E [minors] and it was bad enough just being there to accompany a friend. Being there as The Patient would have been infinitely worse.
Hope you are fully recovered soon xx

Ladkyis said...

Next time switch the bloomin' light on!
I live with a safety officer so I haz been trained!

Fiona@staring at the sea said...

A long dark night indeed. I was right there with you Mel. So glad that the real injury was eventually picked up and you're on the mend xx

Miriam said...

Brilliant telling of your long, dark and clearly painful night! I remembered slipping from one stair to two below, thankfully landing on a very padded, non breakable part of me!

Cheri said...

I've done the miss the last step thing more than once. OUCH! Sorry that your emergency staff weren't at the top of their game that night. But glad you are finally on the mend!

Irene said...

Mel, I think you have journalled this brilliantly and in a few years time, when the pain and memory of it have slipped away, you will be glad to have got it down on your blog. I am glad you are now recovering from this dreadful experience.

Sian said...

I'm wincing along here as I read..and smiling at the advice after the event :) I hope next month allows for more adventuring and a happier tale..we're all here wishing you the best for your continued recovery

Abi said...

Oh mel I'm sending you a virtual hug. That sounds so painful. What a trouper your son was to find you there! xx

Alison said...

A long, dark night indeed....glad you're on the mend!
Alison xx

ComfyMom~Stacey said...

Now that is a very long night indeed

Becky said...

Oh gosh, what a terible thing to happen. Hope that the memory fades soon and that the ankle heals well.

The Mann Fam said...

It was great fun reading the retell. I especially enjoyed the bits of humor found in the ambulance ride and hospital designation for your injury.

I agree with Ladkyis, "next time turn the bloomin' light on."

Ciao, My Lovely.

Karen said...

Now all you need to do is pair this wonderfully-told story with one of your photos and a layout is complete!

Maria Ontiveros said...

Oh, I knew what was coming, and it was painful to read unfold! I guess that's a tribute to your story telling ability, Mel, but it sill makes me sorry it happened to you.
Hugs,
Rinda

Scrappi Sandi said...

Yep...even though I knew what was coming it made compulsive reading & the last few sentances re the inadaquacies of the NHS care you recieved make me cross....but as I know you're on the mend I'll let that go!! I agree with Karen that you need only add a photo & that a LO done!! :D

The Creative Beast said...

OH! reading our story of how you got your awful injury was scary...until you added the humor of the ambulance lights and the hospital designation being assigned to your injury, NOT your age!
I am so glad your loving family were able to get the help you needed and that you are finally on the right path for mending =-)

Chipper said...

As I read your story I remembered that pain well. It gave me the shivers. I am glad that it eventually turned out well.

Jennie said...

Oh my - sowell written it took me back 18 years when I broke my arm after a fall downstairs in the dark. So glad you are now on the mend. J xx