Wednesday, March 27, 2013

If it's not one thing it's your mother

December 13, Christmas Party
Florence looking at Santa's baby
So goes a pop culture quote that includes books, TV shows, magazine articles, t shirts, even Robin Williams' sayings and some reach back to Freud blaming it on your mother.  But that it has been the mother again here, a siege for us beginning with the phone call Sunday afternoon:  Jerry's 96 year old mother, Florence,  (aka MIL=mother in law) fell  in her room at the  skilled facility where she has resided for two years.  She has been  our responsibility since 1980 when her husband passed away and we acquired the task of looking out for and  putting up with the demands and annoyances of this dependent, manipulative woman as her other two younger children opt out.  Truth, Jerry's full sister, dead since 2004 but who was alive at the time would have stepped up but she had her own siege of medical and financial problems and was not really able to do much.  So it has been that we got the Old Maid.  At 96, you think there is not much  time left but they live long lives in her family and she is the last of the 5 sisters, the youngest, the baby and the less stable  mentally and the nastiest.  All this has been told before, our lives whirling along and finally we have had some degree of freedom with her in the nursing home.  We have been concerned about this potential, she had a walker to use for stability but with her dementia and  bull headedness she often neglects to use it in her room.  The orthopedic surgeon wondered if she had previously fallen.  How does anyone know, her hearing is almost non existant, she does not communicate, she attempts to be secretive, to hide things, much as the hoarding we cleared from her room.  That is another story we filled 4  big trash cans with old  napkins, boxes, paper plates, old newspapers, old church bulletins, envelopes, and the worst used disposable underwear.  The  facility staff try to not  intrude on a resident's privacy but after I discovered the garbage upon garbage, some other protocol must be followed. 

Who knows how it happened, they found her on the floor near her bed, and in pain.  She has a high pain threshold and an ability to ignore aches so when she complained, they knew it was serious.  An ambulance transport to emergency at the Gunderson hospital in La Crosse and ever since  4:00PM Sunday it has been a tilt a whirl; her partial hip replacement surgery at 11:00PM, being up out of bed Monday morning, standing yesterday and declared medically stable and dischargeable back to the SNF today.  Medically stable says nothing about mentally unstable and there's not much to be done about that.  She convinced the hospital attendants to call her son and when she got Jerry on the phone she was belligerent and demanded he come get her.  We requested they not connect a phone, but they try to do what a patient wants or what makes their life easier.  I wish her daughter had interest and would come and sit at the facility, taking care and be pushed to  frustration but that is not going to happen and so we make do.  I watch my own tongue and attitude because I do not want to be mean to an old lady, someday I'll be old too, but what a predicament.  Long discussions with the therapists and nurses at the home this morning about protocols and a new level of care for her. Will she comply, will she attempt to do something she should not and reinjure herself, what next?  All questions to be answered as we look toward Easter.    I'll not be Easter decorating this year, too much else to deal with.  

Full healing may take 6 months.  This is a time of instability when anything can happen.  A cousin reminded me that Aunt Berniece died of complications from a broken hip, but Florence has a strong heart and  body in ways unbelievable for a 96 year old.  Many  nurses marveled at how good she looks for 96 and then they marveled at how nasty she could be,  how she could be foul in disposition and demeaning, I am not surprised.  We hope progress continues.  Such is life.  


  1. PS so far so good, she ate lunch in a wheel chair in the dining room of the facility and attended the Wednesday afternoon church service. Therapy was scheduled but they deferred until tomorrow, she was very tired and was put to bed. I learned that the 3rd & 4th days after general anesthetic are critical so one wonders about rapid hospital discharge. Well I don't wonder, acute care is not needed once the patient is "medically stable which they declare she is.

  2. my mom fractured her hip and it was a long road to recovery. I'm sorry for the trials this woman puts you through but you're right, we will be old too one day and all we can hope for is to keep our faculties for as long as possible and not be too much of a burden on anyone else.