Two weeks ago my Mom went to Robert’s school for Grandparent’s Day. He was so proud and happy to have his Grandma there. It was a noon release day so afterward she took him to lunch and then brought him home.
Two days later our lives changed dramatically.
Late Saturday night/early Sunday morning my Mom fell while holding a crystal decanter. We still don’t know if she tripped and passed out when she hit her head or if she passed out and that’s what caused the fall. She cut her thumb severely and laid on the floor bleeding for ten hours. We still don’t know what made her wake up. But she did come to and drag herself across the kitchen floor to the phone to call my nephew to come home. He had spent the night at his mother’s house across town.
She told him to get her to the couch, get her a towel for his hand and not to call me or 9-1-1. Luckily he didn’t listen. He called me. We were in church and I was digging for treats for Robert when I saw the message on my phone. “I need you. “
I called the house and tried to convince her to go to the hospital. I still wasn’t fathoming how bad it was. She wouldn’t go… told me she was covered in blood and looked awful just to get to the house as quick as I could (it’s a 45 minute drive). When I go to the house I still didn’t think we were dealing with anything critical. Until I tried to stand her up and she almost fainted. That’s when we called the ambulance. Then I looked in the kitchen where she had been. Her blood pressure was 60/40 and she was still complaining that we were having her taken to the hospital.
At hospital number one we found out the cuts on her hand were the least of our worries. She also had three fractured ribs, a punctured lung and a compression fracture in her T-9 vertebrae. That led to transfer to hospital number two after a quick stitch job on her hand and getting her BP stable enough to transport.
The next nine days were a blur of doctors, specialists, oxygen and discharge planning. She would not be able to come home when she was released. I had to tell her she would be going to a skilled nursing facility for a bit. We had to have her somewhere that she could build up her strength and that could accommodate her high flow oxygen system. She was pretty resistant at first. There were tears from both of us. Finally, she conceded. The day before she was released she was on 13 liters of high flow oxygen. By her release she was down to 2 liters of regular oxygen.
Her first day in rehab she wound up back at the hospital because they thought her EKG looked funny. Cardiologist thought it was fine and sent her back. She had a few very valid complaints about the care she was getting (it is a very good facility) and some that were pretty minor. I met with the admissions director to address them.
Today was her first real full day there. In her PT evaluation she scored 49/56. She also rocked it out at OT. She was off oxygen for 45 minutes because that’s how long it took me to notice we hadn’t put it back on after a restroom break. She was tired tonight but I think mentally she was feeling better. She is realizing this isn’t permanent.
I met with her care team today to go over a few issues I had and to discuss “the care and feeding of Maribeth” (we’ve been having trouble getting her meals). It was a good meeting and I was able to fill in some blanks that they didn’t know about. The PT in the meeting said she really thought if Mom continued to progress as she was we will be discharging to home next week with the help of a visiting nurse. My nephew was with her all day today and learned what they do in therapy so he can help at home.
Tonight it looks like the nightmare will be over soon. It has been a hell of a ride. My Mom isn’t an easy person to deal with sometimes. She has high expectations and standards. I also know that she was scared to death, on high doses of steroids to keep her lungs strong and Vicodin for the pain so she isn’t always tracking. Her manner can be gruff but she’s generally right.
I’ve been splitting my time between my house, mom’s house, the hospital/care facility and work. Luckily I had today and Monday off… bummer that I was supposed to be in Vegas but good that I’ve been able to be there with Mom as we make this transition. I miss Jim and especially Robert but he’s doing OK. He was thrilled the other day because there was a cupcake in his lunch that Grandma sent to him.
Tomorrow the boys are coming to meet me in Independence so we can spend a few hours together. I’ll go home later and then come back to Mom’s house Sunday night after I finish with her at the care facility. Most days I feel like I’m spending all the time on the road.
She’s the toughest person I know. Even though she doesn’t believe me when I say that. I hope I’m half as tough as her if I ever have to be.