"We seldom get into trouble when we speak softly. It is only when we raise our voices that the sparks fly and tiny molehills become great mountains of contention."
- - Gordon B. Hinckley
August 03, 2015
When Life Takes You by Surprise
by Kathryn H. Kidd

Sometimes life jumps up and attacks you by surprise when you are cheerfully off doing something else altogether. As an example of this, let me share with you my adventure of last weekend.

On Saturday night when I went up to bed, the day was finished as far as I was concerned. I did a little reading until I was tired, and then then turned out the lights, or rather my eyelids. Normally I like to stay awake for Fluffy to come upstairs so I can butter his hands with hand cream, but it had been a long week.

We had enjoyed the most delightful of company, entertaining a house guest and staying awake until all hours of the night, solving the world’s problems. Also, the first morning he had been in our house, I had fallen down from my walker — a big, huge fall — for the first time in more than two years.

The only thing that kept us from having to call Fire and Rescue to get me up was that I had fallen near enough to the stairs that I just scooted over to the staircase, sat at the top of the stairs with my feet several steps below, held on to the stair rail, and hoisted myself up.

By then I found myself headed downstairs hours before I wanted to go downstairs, but that wasn’t the stair case’s fault. I shouldn’t have fallen down in the first place.

Anyway, even now I still have bruises that are bigger than an Idaho potato, but that’s the way we do things on Planet Kathy. Go big or go downstairs.

I was so shaken and there were so many torn muscles from the tumbling event that instead of my walking around on the walker as I usually do, Fluffy was rolling me around on the wheelchair more than he was accustomed.

He rolled me to a wedding at the Washington Temple, and then to the wedding reception that night. But he also rolled me up and down to the car every time we left the house, which he almost never does. My injuries gave him a real workout.

I was still recovering on Saturday night, so I went upstairs to bed just a little early, turned out my eyelids, and was soundly asleep when I was rudely awakened about 2 AM by the act of nearly freezing to death. I thought Fluffy had put me in an industrial freezer while I was asleep, and I was not amused.

I impatiently awoke the innocent little fellow and demanded to know why he had turned on the industrial fan we do not own. His protestations fell upon deaf ears. He got up and started piling blankets on me. The blankets did not work and I was still shivering and shaking like a dry leaf in a tornado.

I lay abed shivering my little buns off. It soon became apparent the chills were not going away and I was not going to be able to fall back asleep. Furthermore, the chills were shaking every bit of liquid around in my tiny bladder, and I figured as long as I wasn’t sleeping anyway, I might as well hop down to the end of the bed where the porta-potty is located.

(You who have working feet may not be aware that we who do not have working feet cannot just hippy-hop to the bathroom at every whim. So we have a porta-potty at the end of the bed, so that I can just hop down to the end of the bed and hop back without ever having to put on shoes, and without expending so much energy that I would be awake for the rest of the night.

(Fortunately, my three months in the hospital in 2012-2013 taught me to be able to sleep through the night on many if not most nights, but when I do have to use the potty somebody has to empty it. This is yet another reason why Fluffy is my Perpetual Employee of the Month. Boy, does that little booger earn his paycheck!)

Anyway, I opened my eyelids, sat up in bed, and began the hop. It is only about three hops to the end of the bed, and to my credit I was able to achieve the first one. Then — how can I say this? — I got stuck. No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t work up the energy to hop again.

Fluffy was starting to get a wee bit annoyed by all this kerfuffle, but he was getting even more concerned about my behavior. Back in December of 2012, a mighty case of the chills is what started me off on my whole grand three-month hospital adventure. You know — the one that put me in the wheelchair and turned our lives upside-down.

After being on the bed for about 20 minutes with no progress, Fluffy started asking me some questions. I guess my answers were either nonexistent or nonsensical, to the point that Fluffy realized that calling 911 was the best option at this point.

To be honest, I have no idea what transpired, because by this time my mind was quickly losing its foothold on Planet Earth. I only know about the phone call — or about anything else that happened here — because Fluffy told me about it later.

The paramedics got there first. The first team was a crew of four, led by Mr. Buff Paramedic, who was as rude as he was manly. He wanted me to get up from my seated position on the bed and get into a fireman’s chair, where I could be strapped down and carried down our staircase by a herd of paramedics who, together, could safely carry my weight.

There were only two problems here:

  1. Having no idea there were paramedics in the room, I could not hear a word that Mr. Buff Paramedic had to say.

  2. Even if I had been able to hear or understand him, I did not have the strength to stand up and walk from the bed to the fireman’s chair. In order to do a thing like that, one must have working feet.

Not having heard the conversation, I cannot testify what was said. But Fluffy says it went roughly like this:

“Get on the chair, Mrs. Kidd.”

“She can’t get on the chair. Her legs are paralyzed.”

“We can’t move you until you’re on the chair, Mrs. Kidd.”

“She can’t get on the chair. She’s almost unconscious.”

“Just get on the chair, Mrs. Kidd. We can’t do anything until you just. Get…On…The…Chair.”

“If she had that much strength we would be driving to the hospital and would not have called you.”

To his credit, Fluffy didn’t ever once say anything like this:

“People, it’s pretty apparent she’s both paralyzed and suffering from squash rot at this point. Leave her alone.”

Of course, maybe he did say it and just didn’t report it. I wouldn’t admit to saying it if I’d said it.

When it became apparent that despite all his testosterone I was not going to be intimidated, Mr. Buff Paramedic called in a fire truck. Eventually a second fire truck was summoned, giving us a grand total of one meat wagon and the two fire trucks. I am sure this was great fodder for neighborhood gossip.

I can only assume here that Mr. Buff Paramedic needed the personnel from these trucks rather than the trucks themselves. But because it only took four people to carry me downstairs once they got me in the chair, there can only be two reasons that second fire truck of men was needed:

  1. To intimidate me.

  2. To give moral support to Mr. Buff Paramedic.

I must confess, I was not intimidated by the men on the second fire truck, considering I did not know the guys from the meat wagon were there, and I did not know the men of the first fire truck were there. For all I know, there could have been a herd of kangaroos in our bedroom on Saturday night. That’s as plausible to me as knowing I missed the Calendar Boys of Loudoun County.

Perhaps, however, having two fire trucks of manly men to back him up gave Mr. Buff Paramedic all the moral support he needed. Because eventually the three Fire and Rescue teams were able to get one dazed old lady onto the fireman’s chair.

Even after I was safely strapped in, Mr. Buff Paramedic was still not satisfied. Now, however, the conversation went like this:

“Tuck in your foot, Mrs. Kidd.”

“She can’t tuck in her foot. Her foot is paralyzed.”

“We can’t take you down the stairs until your foot is tucked in, Mrs. Kidd. Tuck in your foot.”

“She can’t tuck in her foot. Her foot is paralyzed.”

“Mrs. Kidd. We cannot carry you until you tuck in your foot.”

“She can’t tuck in her foot. Her foot is paralyzed. She cannot move it.”

I don’t know how long this went on, but eventually I was carried downstairs, I was put into the meat wagon, IVs were clumsily inserted into one hand and somewhat less clumsily into the other arm, and I was driven to the hospital. When I awoke it was hours later from when I had last remembered anything. Fluffy was sitting there, looking as cute as ever, and after all that time I had still not gone to the bathroom.

Fluffy gave me the Reader’s Digest condensed version of what had gone on throughout the night. Once again I thought that I have got to give that little fellow a raise. But then I had a more pressing need. A bedpan was brought to me, and a nurse relieved me of my underwear.

When I protested about my underwear being gone, she said, “Lady, the first thing we do in this place is we take your underwear off. This is what we do.”

Sure enough, there was a full moon in room 225 of the Loudoun County Hospital for the next four days. And if you ever have cause to visit anyone in the Loudoun County Hospital, you can hide a little smile behind you because you will know a little secret about them. They may look fresh and pretty from the waist up, but that is where the prettiness ends.

Come to think of it, I’ve been in three hospitals in the Washington D.C. metro area — this one in Virginia, one in Maryland, and one in D.C. itself — and all three of them kept their patients trapped with a flimsy gown and no underwear. Maybe this is how they keep us from escaping.

The whole time I was incarcerated and pants-less, I had occasional thoughts about going to bed apparently healthy on Saturday night and waking up pretty close to being dead. Life can change forever on the drop of a dime.

If that weren’t already in my mind, another incident as I was checking out on Wednesday evening confirmed the thought. Fluffy had put me into the car and we just getting ready to start the engine when the first counselor in our stake presidency, Peter Scholz, rushed past us towards the hospital entrance. Being a proper woman of good breeding, I wolf-whistled at him to get his attention. Because he is a good Mormon man, it took two whistles for him to turn around.

He came over to tell me he had a bone to pick with me, which he did. Fluffy was supposed to speak in church on Sunday, but we had to skip church because of the whole hospital thing, and President Scholz was drafted to take Fluffy’s place.

I bet he did a great job, and in fact I would have loved to hear his talk. But if I’d been there, Fluffy would have been the one to speak. In fact, Fluffy said he would have much rather been giving a talk in church than sitting with me at the hospital on a Sunday morning.

Anyway, the reason President Scholz was rushing into the hospital was that one of the members of the stake had gone in for what was supposed to be routine surgery the day before. There had been some complications during the surgery, and doctors now believed that he was not going to wake up.

We asked who this person was, and we were stunned. This is a guy who has been in the peak of health, and who is twenty years younger than we are. His wife’s Facebook page is full of their recent vacation pictures. And now the stake presidency was rushing to his side to give him a priesthood blessing in the hopes of keeping him alive.

Talk about having your life completely change overnight.

If you are the kind of person who prays, be grateful for every day you live. It could be your last, even if you think you are in the peak of health. And if you have anything you need to make right with another person, or with God, don’t put it off. You may not have as much time as you think. We both learned that 2.5 years ago, and it was reinforced again just last weekend.


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About Kathryn H. Kidd

Kathryn H. Kidd has been writing fiction, nonfiction, and "anything for money" longer than most of her readers have even been alive. She has something to say on every topic, and the possibility that her opinions may be dead wrong has never stopped her from expressing them at every opportunity.

A native of New Orleans, Kathy grew up in Mandeville, Louisiana. She attended Brigham Young University as a generic Protestant, having left the Episcopal Church when she was eight because that church didn't believe what she did. She joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a BYU junior, finally overcoming her natural stubbornness because she wanted a patriarchal blessing and couldn't get one unless she was a member of the Church. She was baptized on a Saturday and received her patriarchal blessing two days later.

She married Clark L. Kidd, who appears in her columns as "Fluffy," more than thirty-five years ago. They are the authors of numerous LDS-related books, the most popular of which is A Convert's Guide to Mormon Life.

A former managing editor for Meridian Magazine, Kathy moderated a weekly column ("Circle of Sisters") for Meridian until she was derailed by illness in December of 2012. However, her biggest claim to fame is that she co-authored Lovelock with Orson Scott Card. Lovelock has been translated into Spanish and Polish, which would be a little more gratifying than it actually is if Kathy had been referred to by her real name and not "Kathryn Kerr" on the cover of the Polish version.

Kathy has her own website, www.planetkathy.com, where she hopes to get back to writing a weekday blog once she recovers from being dysfunctional. Her entries recount her adventures and misadventures with Fluffy, who heroically allows himself to be used as fodder for her columns at every possible opportunity.

Kathy spent seven years as a teacher of the Young Women in her ward, until she was recently released. She has not yet gotten used to interacting with the adults, and suspects it may take another seven years. A long-time home teacher with her husband, Clark, they have home taught the same family since 1988. The two of them have been temple workers since 1995, serving in the Washington D.C. Temple.

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