Chat @ Care-giving: Taking a Tumble

Well, I know Mom didn’t do it on purpose, but she found a way to slow down the retirement center project. I understood that in the last weeks of her sister’s life she wouldn’t want to talk about making such a big step as moving, but I hoped that after the funeral she’d have a renewed interest in her own life.

Though she wasn’t eager to start visiting retirement properties, she was interested in some of the financial recommendations we’d made, so on our regular Thursday I took her to her bank.  I’ve told her about upteen million times that she should wait for me to come around and help her out of the car, but she’s hard to slow down.  When we pulled in front of the bank I was fritzing with the sunshade and putting up the handicapped sign.  She hopped out with her cane in one hand and her purse and an envelope in the other.  I climbed out and started around the car.  About the time I got to the headlight on the passenger’s side, I realized she was in trouble, but before I could reach her, she was down.

No one heard my desperate scream.  When I reached her, I realized there was blood flowing.  I ran into the bank to get something to wipe up the blood and ran back out.  Bank employees followed me.  Mom was sitting up and she was bleeding big time.  In the few seconds since the fall, she had blood all over her face, all over her shirt, all over both of our purses.  Soon it was sprinkled on the ground around her and on my feet.  One of the employees asked if I wanted them to call 911.  Mom was saying no, but I was saying yes.

I insisted that Mom lay back down.  She wanted to go home and I told her to lay still and let me handle this.  I was putting pressure on the cut with one hand and trying to wipe the blood off her face and neck with the other.  A bank guard showed up with a cold pack and started applying pressure to the wound.  He asked me to stand up and block the sun out of her eyes.  In moments the paramedics were there.

As they worked with her and asked her questions, I looked for the medication list I knew she kept in her purse.  They taped a huge piece of gauze to her head, put a neck brace on and moved her to the stretcher.  It seemed to me they were taking entirely too long to start transporting her, but within about 20 minutes of her fall, we were in the emergency room.

Then the pace came to a screeching halt.  The paramedics had stabilized her condition and triage began to monitor her vitals.  Eventually a doctor came in and checked her over.  He couldn’t find anything broken, but he wanted a CT scan.  Two hours later, office personnel were convinced she didn’t have any complications.  They gave her a tetanus shot, sealed her wound with dermabond and gave her a glass of orange juice.  Then we waited while they satisfied themselves that she was going to be OK.  They behaved as if it were all a storm in a teacup, but it was my mom.

Getting her home, I made lunch for all of us and got everyone settled.  I watched her carefully all afternoon.  Finally, after I’d gotten both she and dad dinner, they insisted I should go home.  I did go, but I came back the next day.  She looked worse, but she had a to do list for me that was a mile long.  By afternoon, she seemed to be percolating along pretty well, so I went home in time to make it to a lecture at the museum.

I called the next morning and things were worse.  Her bruising had worsened and her eye had been swollen shut.  My little sister took over for the weekend, bringing them meals and checking on Mom.  Sunday evening, I went by myself and the whole left side of her face was bruised.  The cut had almost healed, but she looked dreadful.  She was also suffering from vertigo.

We have an appointment with her primary care physician tomorrow, but she’s warned me it’s going to be a while before she’ll be interested in the retirement center project.  Her doctor may not agree with her assessment of the situation.  What do you think?

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