To the Editor:
I hope my experience, as outlined in this letter, may save a life or make the life of a caretaker, either the family or a professional, easier.
Last December 30, as I was getting ready for bed, I was taking off the sock on my left foot, when dark red blood spurted out of my ankle. Apparently, I had knocked a scab off a sore, which was over a vein, and blood flowed out. I was in shock and did not have the wit to put my thumb over the sore and stop the bleeding. No, I am not on any blood thinner.
Fortunately, the TV upstairs was not on too loud, and my wife and son heard my frantic cries. My wife tried in vain to stop the bleeding, while my son called 911. I vaguely remember being carried out of the house and then awakening at the hospital. My deep thanks to Dawn Gompert, Renee Lake, and Heather McElhinney — the EMTs who took me to the hospital. I was there for four days.
In the hospital, I could not have wished for any better and caring service than I received from Dr. Denise Fraser, my acute care nurses, Daisy Pattison, Pam Knight, Sandy Welch, Susie Mathews, Chris Fielder, Mary Alice Capello and my certified nurses aides, Cecelia Campbell and Shavika Norbega.
I was given blood transfusions. One good thing, I was told the new blood I received was better than the blood I had lost.
Having almost died, many thoughts ran through my mind as I lay in bed in the hospital. What if my wife and son had not heard me. Are my affairs completely in order? If not, fortunately there is time now.
My family had urged me, more than once, to get Lifeline, which in an emergency will contact a neighbor, loved one, or emergency services, based on your specific needs. I now have Lifeline. Just push the personal help button and help will arrive.
Was it procrastination or pride that kept me from getting Lifeline sooner? Probably a bit of both, but what moved me was the shock of that close call with death.
I know, as I grew older, thoughts like this came to mind when offered help or advice. “I can take care of myself”, “Who are you to tell me what to do”, “I have been independent all my life”, “I appreciate what you are saying, but that’s for older people.” Perhaps some of you have had similar thoughts or know someone who has.
Pride in our own ability to take care of ourselves is very admirable, but I found there comes a time when being too prideful may be fatal. I was also causing concerns to my family, which was very unfair to them.
Sadly, even when people have Lifeline, I have heard such comments as “My father has Lifeline, but he won’t wear it”, “My mother keeps her Lifeline in her dresser — she had an attack, forgot where her Lifeline was and with much effort struggled to the phone and called for help”, “We begged my aunt many times to get Lifeline, but her pride wouldn’t let her. We hadn’t heard from her, so we went to her home and found she had died from a fall.”
Hopefully, my own experience shows how procrastination and pride can hinder you in getting medical devices, such as Lifeline. If you need Lifeline, particularly if you live alone, get it now. Don’t wait for a shock, with your blood, as I did.
Thanks again to my caretakers — family and professionals. Life can be beautiful.