Years ago, we started seeing commercials on the TV where somebody had fallen and couldn’t get up.
The ad was to get people to purchase a button to be worn around the neck which summoned help when the button was pushed.
Susie’s mom was in her 80s and living alone, so we thought this was a good idea.
One day, Susie called her mom and when she answered, Susie could hear the smoke alarm going off in the background.
She told her mom to get out of the house and headed that way.
We only lived about three minutes away.
When she arrived, the house had stinky smoke. Her mom had put a pan of soup on the stove to heat and then fell asleep. The soup was burning in the pan. We asked her mom why she hadn’t pushed the button to get help when the alarm went off. She said she didn’t think of it.
I printed out about 10 sheets of paper with big letters saying, “PUSH THE BUTTON!” I put them on the walls all over her house as a reminder for the next time.
Then, I unplugged the breaker to her electric stove and told her it was broken. She still had the microwave and a toaster oven to fix her food.
Shortly after, we put her mom in an assisted living facility, and that was the last time I thought about “the button.”
Susie seems adamant about getting one for me.
Like most people, I thought I would never need something like that.
Then, she reminds me I have fallen four times in the last couple years.
Luckily, three times someone was there to help me up.
The last time was different.
We were traveling last year, and I got out of the truck to go in the welcome center in Arkansas.
For some reason, the curb was about twice as high as a normal curb. I stepped up with one foot, but didn’t raise my second foot high enough and went down. I caught myself and didn’t plant my face in the pavement.
Before Susie could get out of the truck, another group of visitors ran over and helped me up. Skinned hands, elbow and knee, but otherwise OK.
This summer, we were working in the garden picking beans.
I stepped out of the garden at the end of the row and caught my foot on a bean vine.
Down I went.
I wasn’t hurt, but I can’t get up if I don’t have something to push on to help me up.
Susie was there and said she would help me up.
I said if she did that, we would both end up on the ground. I asked her to go get the wagon.
She brought it around, and I was able to push on it to help me stand.
My second fall, and again someone was there to help me.
In August, we went to northern Minnesota to go fishing. We stayed in a cabin at a lakeside resort.
There was a wooden shelf on the wall just at head height. As I turned the corner to go into the other room, I hit my head on the shelf. It knocked me off my feet, and I ended on the floor wedged between the wall and a heavy chair.
After a few minutes of lying there, I used the chair, the wall and Susie to help me stand up.
Once again, I told Susie it wasn’t my fault I had fallen. It wasn’t like I was dizzy or anything like that.
The latest time was a bit different.
I was in the garage turning wooden pens on my lathe.
I was sitting on a wooden stool, which I have used for several years.
As I turned to get another piece of wood, the stool basically disintegrated.
I went down hard. I hit my head on the deep freezer behind me.
I was on the cement floor with broken pieces of stool beneath me.
I had nothing around me to pull on to help me stand.
I always have my phone with me in case I need help, but it was sitting on the freezer to keep it out of the sawdust. I couldn’t reach it.
I rolled around on the floor for several minutes trying to get up.
I finally was able to crawl over to my Shopsmith until I was able to use it to help my stand up. I staggered into the house and leaned over the counter in the kitchen.
I had a massive headache and hurt all over from the fall.
A few minutes later, I looked down and there was blood all over the floor. I bleed easily and profusely if I even get a little scratch.
I looked at my hands. No blood. I put my hands to my head figuring I had cut it. No blood. I see more blood on the floor. I looked at my arms. Lots of blood there, but I couldn’t see where it was starting.
I trailed blood across the floor heading to the bathroom.
I looked in the mirror and saw a big cut in my elbow.
I cleaned it, wrapped it, and started cleaning the floor when the phone rang.
Susie was at work and was calling to check on me.
She asked what I was doing.
I told her, “bleeding.”
She was an hour from home.
I finally convinced her it was a little cut and she knew I was on blood thinners, so it probably wasn’t anything serious.
I didn’t tell her I had fallen again.
Because of my heart problems, Susie took my snow shovel away several years ago.
Because of my weak legs, she took away my ladder last year.
After she came home and heard the whole story, I am now banned from the woodworking tools unless she is home with me.
Now, she is researching a new necklace for me to wear.
And she is printing out pages of paper that say, “PUSH THE BUTTON”.
Rich Creason is an award-winning outdoors and travel writer whose work has appeared in local, regional, national and international publications for 40 years. Born in Anderson, he is a graduate of Markleville High School. He lives in South Madison County with his wife, Susie. He may be contacted at [email protected].