I’ve been an insomniac for years. I used to embrace my insomnia by putting on a pot of coffee at night and doing some of my best writing while the stars were out.
I wrote about having a sleep study a couple of months ago and one of the things the analyst told me is I have to stay off my iPad in bed. That hasn’t happened. But recently, my girlfriend Cathi stumbled upon a cure for my nightly iPad habit.
So there I was in the middle of the night in bed with earphones in listening to an awesome version of Paul McCartney and Wings’ “Live and Let Die” while pummeling various victims in “Words with Friends” on my iPad when I heard a boom. I turned on a lamp and saw my Beagle, Theo, panting at the bedroom door.
I thought he’d jumped against the door to get my attention. Lately, he’s had to go out a lot at night (a dog with the bladder of a mouse). I pulled out my earphones and that’s when I heard my girlfriend Cathi scream my name. That’s something one is never prepared to hear in the dead of night.
My iPad Mini (which I affectionately call “my baby”) went flying end over end onto the bed as I tossed back the covers and leapt from the bed, my heart pounding. Moving down the hallway, Theo wasn’t moving fast enough for me, blocking my path. Cathi was calling me from the bathroom.
I opened the door and she was on the floor, saying she’d fallen. She thought her foot was broken and she’d hit her head against the bathroom door, leaving a nice round crack in the door near the doorjamb. It was her head impacting the door that I’d heard and felt in bed.
She refused an ambulance, so I checked her out. She sat up and I helped her up. After getting her to bed with ice packs, I stayed up talking with her trying to convince her to go get checked out.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2010, 2.3 million people were treated for fall injuries with 662,000 people hospitalized. In fact, 1 in 3 people over 65 will fall this year. And of course, there’s no more hazardous room in a house than the bathroom. Falls account for 80 percent of bathroom injuries.
I convinced her to see a doctor. After X-rays of her foot and neck, it was confirmed that Cathi broke her foot. They booted her foot and put her on crutches (after she stubbornly refused a cast) and I’ve been taking care of her at least half as well as she does for me all the time.
She could’ve lain on the bathroom floor all night. Often I’ve fallen asleep with my earphones on. If Cathi hadn’t hit her head on the door of the bathroom, I wouldn’t have heard her. I didn’t hear her cries until I removed the earphones. Not only could I not hear her calling for help, but also I wouldn’t be able to hear an intruder.
So I won’t be wearing earphones at night anymore.
We’re looking into adding some grab bars into the bathroom and we’re going to get into the habit of carrying our cellphones with us. The line, “I’ve fallen . . . and I can’t get up!” from the 1989 LifeCall commercial has become a pop culture punch line, but it’s no joke to an aging population of baby boomers.
Now I have a more important reason to get rid of the electronics at night than just getting more sleep. Peace.
Kelvin Wade is the author of “Morsels” Vols. I and II and lives in Fairfield. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.