Yesterday I walked in to an interview and one of the first things I said was “I’m the customer who collapsed in here recently.”
I went to Lowe’s to get a few items for my house – new curtains for my living room, screws for hanging a coat rack, and super glue. It was a very rare shopping trip ALONE, without my kids.
My three kids had spent the night at my parent’s house. School was canceled at the end of that week because of the cold. Since I had some testing scheduled at the hospital, the kiddos got an unexpected trip to their grandparents’ house. After my testing I was stuck on my couch the rest of the day so their visit was extended. The next day I was back to myself and as usual when the kids are away, I tried to do EVERY THING. I did loads and loads of laundry (up and down the stairs), I tidied up this and that. Attempted this project and that one. The following day I paid for it while at Lowe’s.
I was only picking up a few items at Lowe’s, picking up my nephew, and going to pick up my kiddos and another nephew. That was it. For my entire day.
I finished up my shopping and stopped by to say hi to my friend. As I was standing there, my legs started to ‘act up’. He noticed and asked if I was alright. I didn’t stick around long because I knew I had to get out of there quick to get off my feet. I started to walk away, and barely got anywhere. I knew that my legs couldn’t handle much more and that if I took one or five more steps, I could end up on the floor. So I tried to just hang out there without looking TOO awkward. Looking at my phone, looking through an ad that happened to be nearby. I did manage to move a few steps to get a little more out of the way and lean against something else. My friend came back to that area and knew what was going on, and asked if I needed to sit.
I HATE being an inconvenience, I HATE not having control over my own body at times.
He told me there was a bench not too far away but I knew taking one step would be the end. I was right. Thankfully this friend is an ex boyfriend who has experienced my ‘spells’ and knows what to do and what I need. He was able to get me seated and in the process I lost it all – I couldn’t use my legs, my arms, and I couldn’t speak. When this happens it can take minutes or up to two hours to be able to fully function again.
Being unable to control my body, in a public place, being unable to answer questions… is probably one of my worst fears. And incredibly embarrassing. All I wanted was to be able to pay for my things and leave, like a normal person and go get my kids! Instead, despite myself and my friend saying it wasn’t necessary, an off duty EMT called for an ambulance so I had to stay and talk to them and an officer to assure them I was okay then (fully able to talk, walk, and use my arms normally) and able to safely drive.
I don’t have an official explanation for why this happens. Yet. I’ve had blood tests. I just endured two intense nerve tests on my legs. I’m still waiting on final results and answers. In the mean time I know that I need to pace myself and not overdo it.
This trip taught me that I needed to have another conversation with my children about my problems. My 9 and 7 year old have experienced my collapsing, and the moments that I just cannot do any more because my legs can’t take it. They know to take care of their 1 year old brother if I need a moment. They know who to call if necessary. BUT – I realized after the fact that they needed to know more about what to do if this happens in public. I had to explain to them what to tell strangers who may be freaking out about me collapsing. They know to ask for water, and they know to explain that if I’m unable to talk, I can hear everything going on and will be able to answer soon.
It’s also taught me to consider putting a note on my phone explaining it all. Something my kids could use to show someone. Something I can show someone if I have function of my arms but not able to speak easily.
This was one of the most embarrassing moments but it has certainly taught me something. I also know it started a discussion at Lowe’s on how to handle things like that. At least I can say it was helpful for teaching them something too.