An Accident Looking for a Place to Happen

I’ve always wanted to be poised and graceful. Alas, that is not the case. I have always been a klutz. My husband used to tell me, “Be careful! You’re an accident looking for a place to happen.”

One of my earliest memories shows my klutziness even as a preschooler. I grew up on a farm, and we had a very gentle horse. A neighbor family was visiting, and their teenage son took me for a ride on the horse. He sat me in the saddle and slowly and carefully led the horse through the field. I’m sure he told me how to hold on, but apparently I didn’t follow instructions. The only thing I really remember is landing on my rear end in a bed of grass burs. That cured me of my desire to ride a horse!

Although I’ve been clumsy my entire life, at age forty-five, I decided I had a good excuse. After my stroke at the hands of a chiropractor, physical and occupational therapy overcome many of my “deficits,” as the medical community calls the residual effects. However, my balance is very poor and I don’t have complete fine motor control of my right hand or my left leg. Occasionally I lose my balance or involuntary movements cause me to do something klutzy. Of course, I do many more clumsy actions that aren’t caused by the stroke residuals, but I think it sounds like a good excuse.

By five years after the stroke, I could walk without any mobility aids, but as I’ve aged, my balance has worsened and arthritis has slowed me down. I began using a manual wheelchair; while I sometimes bumped into something, I never fell from the chair. Then I added a scooter to use outside my home. I was using the wheelchair in my apartment and the scooter elsewhere in the building when I moved into a senior retirement apartment during the COVID quarantine last year.

I had several falls transferring to or from the wheelchair or scooter. Twice I turned the scooter over on its side. I was trapped under the handlebars, but fortunately they weren’t touching me—just too close for me to crawl out on my own. My falls were so frequent that when EMS came to pick me up, they sometimes remembered they had been called for me before.

My home health nurse suggested that the scooter was too dangerous for my klutziness (although she said it much gentler and kinder). She talked to the doctor and they agreed that I need a power wheelchair. It took several months to receive it, then another few months to get it adjusted and customized for me. I’ve had more than my share of accidents with the power chair, too. However, I have a seat belt, so I don’t fall out and I don’t turn the chair over. Instead, I run the large footrest into walls and doors, and I get myself in awkward situations.

Earlier this week, I had been out much of the day (a one-hour doctor’s appointment takes a big chunk out of the day using the handicapped transportation system), and I noticed about midnight that a few of the small plants on my balcony were slightly wilted. I filled my one-gallon watering can at the kitchen sink and rolled over to the patio door. Unfortunately, when I crossed the threshold, the chair was at an angle and caught against the door frame. I couldn’t go forward or backward or sideways. I was totally stuck. My phone was on my desk, a few feet away, but my emergency alert button was around my neck as always. I punched the button and interrupted the operator when she started asking me about my emergency. “All you need to do is to call the building office—it’s the first listing in my emergency contacts—and ask someone to come help me.” When the staff member arrived, she pushed and pulled and pulled and pushed and …. Finally, I told her I could stand up and hold on to the door frame if she could move the chair without me in it. That worked! I got back into the apartment and was going to give up on watering the plants. However, the staff member volunteered to do that as well.

Then last night came one of the funniest accidents I’ve ever had. It did not seem funny at all, last night; in fact, I was afraid I was going to panic. I was ready for bed and went into the kitchen to get water for the night. As I rolled back from the refrigerator, the edge of my pajama bottom got caught under the wheel of my chair. It’s not unusual for something (a piece of clothing or my oxygen tubing) to get caught, and usually I can roll forward or backward to loosen whatever is wrapped around the wheel. Not last night. Whichever way I went, the pant legs grew tighter and tighter around my ankle. I thought it might be easier to get the pants free if I took them off, so I unlocked the seatbelt and wiggled out of the pants, holding on the whole time so I didn’t slide down and off the seat. Even when I got the pants down around my ankle, the leg would not come loose. Every movement tightened the cloth around my ankle until I thought I would never be free. Finally I gave up and called the same staff person who had helped me a couple of days ago. She came up and struggled to get the pants loose, but eventually had to admit defeat, get scissors, and cut the clothing off. She had to whack holes in several layers, and the holey, jagged pants leg was quite a sight.

Through the years, I have had more than my share of falls and minor accidents. However, praise God!, I have never done any serious damage to myself or anyone else—not even to property, unless you count the pajama bottoms I wore last night!

There’s a saying that “God protects fools and babies;” another version is that “God protects fools and drunks.” My version is “God protects fools and klutzes.”

These sayings remind me of a family story of two sisters in my ancestry. One of them let her kids do whatever they wanted. A favorite game of theirs was to tie the horse to the wagon filled with hay. They took turns with one boy on the ground hitting the horse to get him to run and the other on the roof to jump into the wagon as it went by. The other sister monitored her children closely and restricted them to games she considered safe. Her sister, the mother of the daredevils, said, “You need to let your children have more fun. God will take care of them.” The careful mother responded, “I have to watch out for my own kids. God is too busy taking care of yours.”

Those sayings and that story may bring on a laugh, but they aren’t Biblical. However, we can count on God’s protection. Many places in the Bible assure us of God’s love and care. Some of the most beautiful are in Psalms.

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Psalm 18:2

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
    nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
    and see the recompense of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
    the Most High, who is my refuge—
no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
    no plague come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the adder;
    the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
    I will protect him, because he knows my name.
When he calls to me, I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble;
    I will rescue him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

Psalm 91:1-16

Lord God Almighty, thank You that You are our protection, our fortress to run to. Whatever happens to us, You are watching over us. You have saved me from serious injury so many times in my life. Thank you saving me. Forgive me for taking Your protection for granted. To You be the glory and the honor and praise and the thanksgiving for Your mighty protection and love. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Photo: AndreyPopov/Deposit Photos

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