LifeAlert gave Tim a button to push in emergencies which he wears on a lanyard around his neck. It connects with a 24-hour triage team which determines whether to farm the need out to my cell phone, his doctor, the pharmacy, 911.
We had Tim test it successfully a couple of times. The other day he was seized by a series of coughing spasms so severe and so lengthy he seemed to be choking to death. He was doubled over wretching, hardly able to take a breath and I was afraid he was going to pass out. I finally thought to push the button on the LifeAlert unit. The unit squawked out its “EMERGENCY CALL BEING PLACED!” warning three times as it is supposed to but we didn’t get a carbon-based response for so long that the spasms were spacing themselves out and Tim had been able to draw several breaths, enough to assure us, not too convincingly, that he was all right. I told the CBU dubiously we didn’t think we needed the paramedics but I’d let them know.
Afterwards Tim was spent and sat hunched over, red-eyed and panting, hands on his knees. His words were so garbled I thought they must have been rattled loose in his head. But he went and slept it off and hasn’t had coughing fits that bad since.
The key to his being safe when we aren’t available is having a button to push to summon help himself. (If he is unable to answer, they send CBUs to check on him.) And to be able to push the button, he has to be wearing the lanyard.
One day he took it off when he changed his clothes, another day he left it in the shower.
One afternoon he said he was going upstairs to take a nap in an empty bedroom.
“Are we making too much noise down here?” I asked.
“I can hear you trying to be quiet.”
I didn’t see a problem with his napping wherever he wanted. He was up there two hours and I didn’t realize until afterward that he’d left the lanyard downstairs.