Warning to sensitive readers: The post has been updated with photos of a somewhat graphic nature.
My dad fell to the ground today, head first, just a fewmeters ahead of me as he was joining me for a walk with Julian. As I’m sittingdown after putting Julian down for the night, the emotions have overcome me. Itwas traumatic, and I need to figure out how to deal with that so that it doesn’tconsume me as it is currently. The scenario plays over and over in my mind andI go over the details prior to the fall, exploring points at which I might havebeen able to predict, and ultimately prevent, what happened.
My dad has suffered two strokes, the effects of which have magnified in recent months. Foot drop in particular has gotten exponentially worse. This is a condition that impairs the ability to lift the front of the foot, which can cause it to drag on the floor while walking. This is a dangerous stroke side effect because it impairs balance and increases the likelihood of falling.
As we began our walk, I noticed that his step was out of balance and extremely heavy with his upper body leaning forward, and dragging his feet, more than usual. On a couple of occasions, I asked him if I was walking too fast and if he could please move further away from the edge of the side walk as I was worried he might trip onto the street.
With less than 100 meters to our destination at a slight decline, my dad is walking barely ahead of me and I notice how he speeds up, his feet hardly able to keep up. Until they don’t. I was just about to take my phone out to video record it so that we could show it to someone who might be able to help him with rehabilitation or other means to improve the issue that has gotten exponentially worse. Before I finish the thought, he falls to the ground, no hand reflex to catch his fall, and lies there motionless while my heart stops.
Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to put the brakes on the stroller before running to him. I wave my arms for help to potential cars passing by, but my eyes are only focused on my dad. My sweet dad. His head is in the gravel and I try to turn him over but can’t. Suddenly, a family friend who just happened to drive by at that exact moment pulls over and helps me move him over so that we can assess his condition while I call emergency services for an ambulance.
The operator keeps asking me for the address, which I didn’t have. There are few side streets where a sign would be present. As I looked around, I saw none and would have had to walk away for a quite of a distance in order to see one. I give him several landmarks that were within close vicinity of our location, but he insists for me to find a street name. Seriously, the dude wants me to leave my dad covered in blood, and my five-month old baby to go look for a street sign???
He’s obviously on a computer; it would have taken him but a few seconds to look up one of the many businesses I mentioned to get a location address. Yet, he keeps pressing the issue instead of finding a solution with the information I gave him. Had it not been so against my character, I would have blasted him with obscenities; that was my state of mind toward him at the time.
Within minutes of the fall, two more people pull over to help and one of them gives me an address and the ambulance is finally dispatched. My dad is talking but still on the ground, clearly shaken yet as always in good spirits, hating the fuss about him. These strangers go straight into action. The man walks over to my stroller and starts playing with my baby so that I can concentrate on my father. The woman brings two large blankets so that we can keep my dad warm. My heart is filled with gratitude to these fellow men who showed such silent human compassion.
The incident brought on miracle after miracle along the way. Theambulance arrives after maybe ten minutes, or less. Well, actually it wasn’tthe dispatched ambulance but another one that just happened to drive by at thatmoment. In fact, an emergency dispatch nurse called me to check on whether theambulance had made it as the other one my dad had by this point been broughtinto was just about to take him to the hospital. The dispatched ambulance hadn’tarrived and was nowhere in sight.
Our friend who had actually seen my dad fall as he wasdriving up from behind us, stayed until the ambulance left, rescheduling ameeting he was on the way to. He offered to take Julian and I, and my largestroller, home. At this point, I was cold and in shock and Julian was tired so thatwas a blessing.
My dad is OK and was just released from the hospital. They took x-rays and blood tests, removed gravel from his face and patched up what is now extremely swollen. There is nothing broken and no internal bleeding but he is extremely sore. My dad never ever complains, which can be difficult for the family at times because he simply will not tell us exactly how he is feeling. Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather have that than a hypochondriac. I just wish he’d allow for and accept the facts of his physical disabilities and ailments that are part of his life’s journey so that we better can aid him.
I love my dad endlessly. Part of my dad’s sorrow during my adult life has been that I have yet to find that man who will love and be there for me tirelessly and for always. The man who will in essence take his place. Not until then will he truly be at peace. Part of my sorrow of not having had children until now was wondering whether any potential children of mine would have time to make memories with my parents, ones that they would be old enough to remember. Not that that is ever a given, regardless of age. In the circle of life, let’s not take any one day for granted.
Julian did not bat an eye when seeing his morfar this morning. Incredible how he did not in any way react to his morfar’s battered face. That’s love.
I pray and hope for many more years with my parents in my life, and that of my son. Although this incident ended without seriousconsequence, it brings fear into gear. Make sure you tell your loved ones justhow much you love them. Every day. Don’t put off doing what you can for themtoday. And make memories. It is all thatwe are left with at the end of this life and all that really matters.